In recent weeks, nearly all the talk in college football has been about conference expansion. Most of the talk has centered on the demise of the Big 12 and the rise of a 16 team Pac-10.
Yesterday, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announced that Texas has declined an invitation to join the conference. Texas will stay with the Big 12, which will more than likely keep Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech from leaving with the Longhorns.
Also, with Texas staying in the Big 12, that means Texas A&M will more than likely not jump to the SEC. So what effect does Texas saying no to the Pac-10 have on the rest of college football?
Will the Longhorns staying in the Big 12 stop expansion or merely slow it down? Here is a conference by conference breakdown now that Texas is staying in the Big 12.
It looks like the Big 12 will stay a conference but only with 10 teams. Texas could have taken the Pac-10 money and ran but with the chance to basically control the whole conference and start the Longhorns Network convinced Texas to stay.
Yes, everything in college football is about money but give Texas some credit for saving college football’s most valuable commodity: tradition. Already, with Nebraska heading to the Big Ten and Colorado heading to the Pac-10, there is a chance that one day those two teams will not play each other anymore.
If Texas had left for the Pac-10 and Texas A&M to the SEC, a time could have come about where that longstanding rivalry came to an end. By Texas staying in the Big 12, at least some of the traditions of college football are safe.
Expansion is possible in the Big 12 if they are willing to send invites to non-BCS conference members. The Big 12 could go a number of directions, like sending a bid to TCU, Colorado State, and the Air Force Academy out of the Mountain West conference.
Or the Big 12 could send a bid out to a number of Conference USA teams that fit geographically. The C-USA teams that the Big 12 could add are SMU, Houston, Tulsa, Rice, and UTEP.
The Big 12 and commissioner Dan Beebe quit worrying about being raided and made some moves themselves that could help them become the first mega conference. By adding some of the teams above, they would be the first conference to get to 16 teams.
I am sure the money available to these non-BCS schools would make them jump at the chance to join a BCS conference. For TCU, they would finally not be on the outside looking in when the bowl season comes rolling around.
These are smaller or lesser know schools, but at one time SMU was a powerhouse before the NCAA gave them the death penalty. Houston has a Heisman Trophy winner.
So do not discount these smaller or lesser known schools. If they had the money of BCS schools, they could become relevant again.
Foiled by Texas, the Pac-10 will not have to rethink its game plan. Since Colorado joined the conference it now has 11 teams, which is worth noting since the Big Ten also has 11 schools, and if they add one more team could have a championship game.
There are plenty of options for the Pac-10 and word is out that the conference will send an invitation to Utah out of the MWC. They could also add BYU out of the MWC.
Another direction the Pac-10 could go is adding teams from the Western Athletic Conference. From the WAC the Pac-10 could add Fresno State, Boise State (although the Broncos have accepted a bid to the MWC), or Hawaii.
If the Big 12 does not take Air Force or Colorado State, the Pac-10 could look there as well. There is no question that Boise State and Fresno State can compete in a BCS conference.
Fresno and Boise would only get stronger with big time BCS money behind them. Also, it is good that Utah finally will get into a BCS conference as well.
For the Pac-10, the last two weeks have to seem like a nightmare. The conference’s flagship program, USC, is banned from post season play for two years and they were rejected by Texas.
All the conference talk started when the Big Ten decided to expand. The conference wanted 12 teams and then college football conferences got greedy, wanting to add 16 teams and have super conferences.
The Big Ten has options if they want to expand further. The conference could go after Big East teams or Mid American Conference teams.
A couple of teams from the MAC that deserves a shot at playing in a BCS conference are Northern Illinois, Buffalo, and Temple, if the Owls keep progressing. Also, the Big Ten could send invites to a number of Michigan or Ohio schools in the MAC that fit geographically.
The real question is will Jim Delany keep chasing after his white whale, Notre Dame? The Big Ten could use a similar format that the Big 12 is using with Texas.
Delany could offer for the Fighting Irish to start their own television network and receive conference money as well. This could make joining the Big Ten too lucrative to pass up.
Will Delany be willing to go that far to get the Irish to join the Big Ten and would the other Big Ten schools be in favor of such a plan? Only time will tell, but if Delany can get Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, conference expansion heats up all over again.
The Big East could expand if the conference decides not to stand pat and wait to be raided. Just a personal note, any conference that is not working on adding teams is just asking for the other conferences to come and raid them.
The Big East, the Big Ten, and the ACC could be just watching and waiting to swoop down and steal teams from the conference. To keep this from being raided, the Big East could add two C-USA schools, Marshall and East Carolina.
Also the Big East could re-add Temple and send an invite to Buffalo. Rumor at one time was the Big East was looking to send invites to several C-USA schools.
Instead of waiting, the Big East should make their move quickly and decidedly or be left out in the cold. Of any BCS conference, now that the Big 12 is safe, the eight team Big East conference looks vulnerable if they do not expand.
Both these conferences look to stand pat and not add any teams. All that could change if the SEC decides to go after Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech, and either Virginia Tech or Clemson.
If that happens, the ACC would raid the Big East if that conference had not expanded. The ACC could try to swallow the Big East whole if they lost four teams to the SEC.
The merger would mean most of the East Coast would belong to one conference. It would also put the ACC/Big East conference in several large television markets.
Still, it looks like both these conferences are just happy with their 12-team membership. That could all change if expansion heats up again.
C-USA, MAC, WAC, MWC
All these conferences have teams that can survive and thrive in BCS conferences. Instead of raiding other BCS conferences, the Big 12, Pac-10, and Big Ten should take a long hard look at these teams.
I do not think too many college football fans would argue that Boise State, Utah, TCU, and others do not deserve to be in a BCS conference. By the major conferences showing they might not want to add these teams shows that they truly are scared of them.
That is why they will not play them or add them to their conference. This has to change and major conferences need to take a long, hard look at these teams.
If teams are raided from these conferences, they could always merge and re-form as new conferences. If schools that are ready to be a part of BCS conferences are not allowed to join, then the whole expansion of college football should be halted.