Perhaps there's some validity to the rumors after all. Or maybe there isn't.
Earlier today, the college football world was set ablaze by what seemed to be a potentially insidious claim that the Pac-10 was preparing to invite six Big 12 schools to join its ranks.
Citing several unnamed sources, OrangeBloods.com, the Texas Longhorns' Rivals.com affiliate Web site, reported Thursday afternoon that the Pac-10 was set to extend invitations to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Colorado.
As a result of the expansion, the Pac-10 (or 16) would feature two eight-team divisions, one comprised of Arizona, Arizona State, and the six Big 12 schools. The other division would consist of the remaining Pac-10 schools.
Last month, with the Big Ten appearing more and more intent on at least contemplating plucking one or maybe two Big 12 members to fit its expansion plans, the Big 12 and Pac-10 engaged in discussions regarding the possibility of entering a television partnership, an agreement that would generate untold amounts of revenue for each party and put many of the nation's top media markets—and the college football landscape's Western Hemisphere—under one umbrella.
Thursday's report, if not altogether startling, seemed silly, and was quickly dismissed by those Big 12 officials who could be reached for comment regarding the matter.
One Big 12 official who did not dismiss the report was none other than Commissioner Dan Beebe, who inexplicably canceled what was supposed to be a press conference with Texas president Bill Powers at 6 p.m. ET, shortly after he and conference presidents and chancellors adjourned for the day at the Big 12's spring meetings in Kansas City. That press conference has instead been pushed back to Friday, the final day of meetings, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Upon getting peppered with questions about the Pac-10 possibly raiding his conference, Beebe, prior to getting on an elevator, smirked and said, "I used to be an investigator, so I know how to ask all the good questions."
And then came this, a report from the Boulder Camera that stated Colorado athletics director Mike Bohn and officials from other Big 12 schools have been led to believe the Pac-10 will, in fact, issue invitations, possibly as soon as this weekend, when Pac-10 chancellors and presidents meet in San Francisco.
"The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn told the paper.
So, what do we make of this? Earlier Thursday, Big 12 officials were shaking their heads in response to the Pac-10 expansion report. Now, one of their own is saying the ball could drop in the next few days.
Well, what about the other side? What are folks saying on the West Coast? Like their counterparts in the Big 12, Pac-10 athletics directors are putting their heads together at meetings this week.
As we've seen with officials in the Big Ten, conference expansion is more like a covert operation, where only the chosen few are disseminated information. The powers-that-be within the Pac-10 are in the loop, but they aren't letting on as such, at least not in terms of validating Thursday's bombshell.
Instead, they're preferring to divert attention by painting a picture of a fantasyland where any and every scenario is possible.
"There is an enormous amount of speculation about conference expansion right now and I think with the Pac-10 that anything is possible, all the way from remaining with the status quo, where we are today, to a full merger with the Big 12 and anything in between," Washington athletics director Scott Woodward told the Seattle Times.
"All possibilities are viable and open for discussion."
Fine. Moving on, let's go straight to the one source who trumps all others in this matter, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott (pictured). He should be ripe with clarification, only he's not, saying through an issued statement that his conference has not "developed any definitive plans."
He added: "We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term."
Well, that was vague, and rightfully so. The minute Scott, who is for all intents and purposes the equivalent to Jim Delany in this case, confirms this whole expansion deal, the college athletics stratosphere will tear, opening up chaos above that will ultimately come crashing down. And the result will be utter disarray, at least for a while.
But that's only if this whole thing is true. Thursday afternoon it seemed rediculous. With Friday approaching, the whole thing began to sprout legs. By Sunday, the invites could have been handed out, and we could very well feel the tremors caused by the seismic shift of what could be the most radical realignment college athletics has every seen.
Or maybe not.