The Big Ten appears to be getting ready to pull the trigger.
Nebraska and Missouri are being asked to get off the fence by the end of the week, and by all indications, Big 12 officials aren't going to like what they hear.
That could lead to the complete erosion of the league as the Big Ten and Pac-10 grow.
As we inch closer to real news here and the beginning of a domino effect, which schools are going to be most depressed when the smoke clears?
It's a matter of act or react.
The Jayhawks appear to be in the react category and that reality is driving coach Bill Self crazy.
"It's driving me nuts," he told ESPN.com Tuesday.
The idea that his basketball program is a bystander in a process that is all about football and TV markets is killing the coach.
"I can hardly believe that we've won three national championships and our football team won the Orange Bowl in the past two years, and basically, we could come away with nothing to show for that, that we would be penalized because we live in an area that's not as populated as other areas," Self said.
"This is bad for us. I don't get it. Well, OK, I get it. But I don't like it."
Did we mention the football program loses their rival in Nebraska?
The Wildcats are a school that is good for regional rivalries. They don't have the cache in football or basketball to be a player in the process.
Likewise, there's no logical fallback spot. This is one of those programs that benefits most from the millions that the BCS affiliation pumps into the athletic program.
They are able to occasionally rise to the cusp of being a national powerhouse.
If eight teams defect, the Wildcats may have to wait for a Mountain West invitation—a league with a far less distinguished reputation than the Big 12.
The Cyclones are like a 4-A player in baseball.
They have enough of a reputation to make sense in the Big 12, but are not good enough to be courted by other conferences.
They are essentially filler, the lesser school you need to fill out a conference. They have made sense geographically and benefited financially from the association.
Being on the outside makes them less attractive to the bowls and makes them vulnerable to slipping to also-ran status.
The Buffaloes are getting the school bigwigs together this week to prepare for a possible invitation to the Pac-10.
It's not coming, guys.
Colorado is sixth on the sexiness depth chart on the supposed Pac-10 invitation list.
They are going to be thrown aside in the coming weeks as the reality hits that if you want Texas, the Pac-10 will have to take Baylor along for the ride instead of Colorado.
The Buffaloes are going to have to roam on over to the WAC or the Mountain West.
The invitation the Broncos thought would change their future never came.
The ultra-fast pace of the Pac-10 decisions has caused the Mountain West Conference to step back and watch the carnage.
Sure, they could take Boise State, but why not wait and just get the remnants of the Big 12?
Meanwhile, the Smurfs are BCS-less.
Then again, waiting might be well worth it for them as well. If they can make the run we all expect them to make this fall, they could be attractive enough to be part of a larger-scale Big 10 expansion.
Would you rather be in one 10-team division or an eight-team division?
The Wildcats and Sun Devils are apparently not going to get to weigh in there.
Their path to the Rose Bowl will go through Texas and Oklahoma every year if the Pac-16 Southwest takes shape.
The football program is spotty in comparison to the basketball program. Here is another case of the hoopsters absorbing the collateral damage.
If those are the divisions in hoops as well, that's more losses on the bubble-team resume—a spot Arizona has found themselves in more and more come March Madness time.
You're getting squeezed.
You want to be independent and keep all the money to yourself.
But the Big Ten reportedly is telling the Irish that the gravy train is over.
You want to play Big Ten teams like Michigan, Michigan State or Purdue? Join the league. We'll get you as much TV money or more than you're getting now.
Don't join us and we're going after five teams, which will make it even more difficult to get our schools on your schedule.
Little Miss Independent might finally be forced to choose a prom date.
So close, yet so far away.
I went to school in the metro New York area. As much as Greg Schiano has done for the national reputation of the school, it still makes as much sense to invite my Fordham Rams to the Big Ten.
The idea that Rutgers was being discussed as vital to the Big Ten is just strange. Imagine being a Scarlet Knights booster.
Just when you were getting your hopes up that you're about to a player in a real football powerhouse conference, the carpet gets pulled out from under you.
With Nebraska and Missouri being discussed now, Rutgers will likely have to wait for a bigger expansion. Two teams would be enough to get the Big Ten to set up a title game.
The New York market is still attractive, but getting Nebraska and Missouri enhances the core audience and sets up big rivalries that Rutgers will never bring to the table.
The talk was quietly building that Pittsburgh would be part of an East Coast-based Big Ten expansion.
It would have given Dave Wannstedt an entirely new recruiting base, not to mention more national TV games to showcase the program.
As it is, they're in a holding pattern. That's bad for the short term.
That could end up being better for the football program in the long run. The ACC and SEC will have to react if and when the Big Ten and Pac-10 expand.
Pitt becomes mighty attractive in that scenario.
There's plenty of folks out there saying that getting Texas and Oklahoma into the Pac-10 will make the conference a powerhouse on par with the SEC.
That might be the case and that helps the Ducks' bank account.
But for the football program, it's a bummer. Right now, they are the shiny backup quarterback to USC. Everyone loves them, everyone wants them to rise—even with all the recent thuggery in the Northwest.
Second fiddle is bearable because there's only one fiddle to knock off to shed the label.
Now they become fourth fiddle at best.