NCAA Expansion: Enjoy the Calm Before the Real College Football Storm

Tim KingCorrespondent IJune 14, 2010

LINCOLN, NE. - JUNE 11: University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osbourne looks on at a press conference announcing Nebraska accepting an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference June 11, 2010  in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The university will begin integration immediately and start athletic competition as soon as 2011. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
You are enjoying the calm before what might turn out to be the wildest week in the history of college athletics.  Don't be fooled about what you see and hear either.  If the Big 12 and Big East survive the week, it's not because everyone sat back and pondered a moment, it's because they were busier than bees behind the scenes in the coming days.
Colorado's move to the Pac-10, Boise State's to the Mountain West and Nebraska's to the Big Ten were just the opening salvo; a little test on the gunnery range before people trot out the big guns later in the week.  Grab your ear plugs, its going to get loud.
Texas starts off the madness on Tuesday when their Board of Regents sits down to decide which way to jump.  They have offers in hand from the Pac-10, Big Ten, SEC and now what is left of the Big 12.  It would appear that the SEC is out and the Big Ten is nearly out since the state legislature isn't going to let the Longhorns go anywhere all by itself and that's the Big Ten offer. 
The Big Ten wins the war hands down if Texas goes with it.  The TV money would become obscene with Dallas/Ft.Worth and Houston hooked up to the Big Ten network.   A conference that could throw Texas, Penn State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan on the field would own college football in terms of revenue and TV ratings.  (Don't think the folks in South Bend don't notice either).
Texas could also jump to the Pac-10, taking the remaining viable parts of the Big 12 with it.  It wouldn't have the revenue stream of the Big Ten, but a 16 team Pac-10 would have way more revenue than the Big 12 could ever offer.  From day one, this has always been about the money.  That's why this outsider's view is that Texas can't stay put.
Texas also can't stay put because the Big 12 reduced to 10 would lose its conference title football game and the ABC money that comes with it.  Texas would be the only real money maker in this new alignment which might try and launch a TV network, but without the real gravity or money of the Big Ten's. 
If Texas jumps to the Big Ten, Jim Delany would likely move quickly to throw a net over Rutgers and Syracuse thus killing the Big East as a football conference and forcing Notre Dame's hand.  The Irish are still living with the illusion that they are a major power in college football and want to dictate the terms of their own future.  With no Big East to hide behind, the illusion would be over.  Think NBC is going to hand them $9 million a season when their schedule highlights include Marshall and Miami of Ohio?
A Texas move to the Pac-10 would allow the Big Ten to pause, if only for a moment, and also give the SEC and the ACC more time to decide what they really want out of all of this.  The most likely moves will shake some schools like Kansas, Missouri, Pitt and West Virginia out of their present orbits leaving them to be snatched up at reasonable terms. 
Before all is said and done someone or a couple of someones could make a mistake that would crush the athletic history of a school or cripple a conference.  Remember, all of these scenarios are predicated on the belief that revenues will continue to increase into the future.  But if we've learned anything over the last two years is that nothing economic is for certain.