Monday, June 07, 2010

Expansion? Soon, my friends ...

If you've been following any of the talk about possible conference expansion (mostly as it applies to football, but of course it would affect all sports), then you know that something's going to happen for sure, but no one really knows what it is yet. ESPN has some posts about what may be coming:

The Big 12 commissioner says that no one's going to leave.
Nice try, my man, but no one believes that. You've let Texas dictate the direction of the conference for years, and now that the non-Texas schools are tired of it, you want to pretend none of this is happening. Have fun sticking your head in the sand. (The irony is that not even Texas is doing well enough compared to, say, Big Ten schools, which is why they may bolt as well.)

So just to make sure, the Big 12 told Nebraska and Missouri that they have to decide whether or not they're staying, or else. Of course I haven't read what exactly the "or else" part of it is, probably because there isn't any. Both schools probably said "yeah, whatever" and continued to plan their future as part of the Big 16.

But why stop at two? The Pac-10 looked at the Big 12 and said "om nom nom". As many as six schools might be welcomed ... initially Colorado was a sure bet, but the Pac-10 might invite a few Texas schools and both Oklahoma schools as well. The only thing that sounds fishy about this is that the Pac-10, like the Big 10, has a sound academic reputation, and a few schools on that wish list do not. Surely they could do better than the whole group?

(side note: is the ESPN "city" thing dumb or what? It would be decent if they simply gave you a way to see all the sports about a certain city in one spot, but instead I guess they're trying to show how they can cover each "important" city one at a time. Whatever. It's just the same coverage they've always had, but rebranded to look better than it really is. ESPN = MSM.)

Next, the Big Ten said hey, if you're trying to force Nebraska and Missouri to leave, we can deal with that. They may be more than happy to move up the expansion timeline if the Big 12 commissioner is in such a hurry to dismantle his conference. (Remember that the Big 10 votes yes or no on applications for admission. Yes, they typically contact the conference first and then the school to make sure there's no embarrassment, but it isn't as simple as saying "We'll take those two schools over there.") Presumably that would speed up the process of including the other schools as well (to fill out to 14 or 16).

So, if you've been keeping track of the Big 12 schools that have been rumored to join another conference, then you know there are basically four left: Baylor (may or may not be invited to the Pac-10, depending on what the Texas legislature wants and can influence), Iowa State (who would love to go anywhere and likely won't be asked at all), Kansas, and Kansas State. The Kansas chancellor is aware of this too, and even though she was too busy to attend the recent Big 12 meetings (she was in Europe because ... because ... I don't know), she didn't hesitate to beg Nebraska and Missouri not to go. Please don't leave us here, it's hot and dry and nobody will dance with us. Hey, I hear the Mountain West is expanding, though. Maybe you can back into that conference.

Or maybe they're not. They're not going to invite Boise State to join yet because ... again, I don't know. Because if they wait long enough, all the big conferences can make decisions and then they can pick up the pieces? Hell, what if the Pac-10 invites Boise State? Look, if you're a second-tier school and a second-tier conference, then you make it work, you don't wait for something better to come along, because in this landscape, that "better" thing is going to kick over your bike and steal your girl.

So really, all we know is that the Big 12 is really scared (with good reason), the Pac-10 and Big 10 are getting ready to eat, and the Big East is out of the spotlight, at least until the Big 13 needs to pick up a few more schools. Let's get this over with, I can't wait for a season of lame-duck football as Big 12 announcers try to explain how much "history" is being lost ...

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