Friday, June 11, 2010

Expansion and the Texas conundrum

This is what I said a few hours ago:
... megaconferences are about to happen one way or another.
I might have been going a little overboard with that statement, because I don't think it's a given that there are gonna be four 16-team conferences in the near future. Possible? Sure. Maybe even likely. But not a given.

On the other hand, there's no way the Big Ten is stopping with just Nebraska. Jim Delany has been talking for months about expanding the conference's TV footprint/reach; I don't think he had Omaha in mind. Texas and Notre Dame are still the primary targets. Rejections from those two would probably result in the addition of some less-spectacular group of two or four teams that would include Missouri, Pitt, Syracuse and/or Rutgers. I don't see any way the Big Ten has fewer than 14 teams when all is said and done.

Everything else hinges on Texas. If Texas joins the Pac-10, the dominoes start to fall as the other conferences try to keep up. The SEC won't be sitting still if the Pac-10 becomes the Pac-16 and the Big Ten grows to 14. But if Texas decides to stick it out in the Big 12 ... well, there might not be such mass chaos. I don't think that'll happen, but it could. Texas will decide whether the Big 12 lives or dies. And if the Big 12 lives and the Big Ten decides to hold at 12 or 14 teams, the Big East also could survive. There are scenarios that end with no massive changes and a bunch of 12- or 14-team conferences.

The problem with those scenarios is they assume that just about everyone of importance will choose loyalty/comfort/tradition over money (yeah, that happens a lot). But since people are talking about this as the potential armageddon of college athletics, who knows?

Texas, the ball is in your court. We await your decision.

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