Well, we picked a hell of a weekend to hightail it off to Chicago for debriefing and cocktails, didn't we? Fird of all, Blogs With Balls 3 was enormously enjoyable. HS and I had the opportunity to meet literally dozens of talented writers--most of whom we met for the first time--including Spencer (EDSBS), Brian (mgoblog), Joe (HTTO), Dave (Maize n Brew), Jason (Eleven Warriors), Tom (Blog Ten), Dan (Solid Verbal) and that's just from college football. There were countless other people from across the spectrum of blogging that we enjoyed meeting, and the name-dropping we could engage in (JIM BANKOFF BOUGHT US A DRINK YOU GUYS) could seriously take up an entire story. But that's not why you read.
At any rate, while we were away, the conference realignment scenario just got real. After the reports started flowing in that the Pac-16 was on the table and the Big XII was in full-fledged implosion, it came out that the Big Ten had already explored in April whether adding Texas was a viable option. Gordon Gee, Jim Delany, you want to discuss this one?
Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee sent an e-mail to Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany on April 20 saying that he had spoken with Texas President William Powers.
"I did speak with Bill Powers at Texas, who would welcome a call to say they have a 'Tech' problem," Gee wrote in an e-mail that was among several obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request for documents and correspondence related to Big Ten expansion proposals.
Ah yes, the Tech Problem. We had all assumed that Texas wasn't going to go anywhere without Texas A&M, and that certainly seems to still be the case here. What we hadn't counted on, however, was that the Texas legislature would also handcuff the Horns and Aggies with Texas Tech. The Big Ten could stand to take both Texas and A&M. They certainly won't add three Texas-based teams. That's just not how the Big Ten does things.
And if the Big Ten won't add three, they sure as hell won't add four, which is what Baylor president Ken Starr (yes, him) is pushing for now. In a column published by the Waco Tribune, Starr argued forcefully that Baylor benefits way too much from their Big XII affiliation to ever be left behind, ever:
Recent news reports have indicated that Baylor's stock is rising and that it could be included among the teams invited to form a new conference. What we do know is this: the Lone Star state schools of the Big 12 should stick together. That’s what’s in the best interests of Baylor, of Texas and of our own community, here in Waco.
Will Texas state legislature act on Starr's behalf and ensure that the other three schools can't shake those Bears? Easily possible; that's exactly what happened 15 years ago, after all. The only conference that would accomodate all four schools is the Pac-10. Or the Big XII, of course, but c'mon.
The most humorous aspect of this situation, though, is the Big XII's reaction.
Dan Beebe and his constituents have apparently tried to stop the tide by reportedly subjecting Nebraska and Missouri to an ultimatum: the two schools must declare whether they're in or out by this Friday. This ultimatum, we suspect, is binding; the Big XII is in far too much trouble to start turning to toothless gestures at this point.
It should be noted, however, that this ultimatum does not apply to any of the seven teams mentioned in Pac-10 rumors (XII South and Colorado). If the Big XII's reasoning is that Nebraska's and Missouri's public flirtations with the Big 10 led to an air of vulnerability for the conference, fine, but it would have been extremely irrational for Mizzou or Nebraska to not make it known that they'd prefer the Big Ten. The only way any administration official from either school could forcefully argue for remaining in the Big XII and not get fired is if they'd ended the statement in "or at least that's the case in the Bizarro Retardo Universe." Kind of crude, but sometimes you need to forcefully get the point across.
In fact, Missouri and Nebraska should just Peace Out right here and now... if it weren't for Notre Dame. In fact, as Chip Brown has reported today, the Big Ten is really waiting to hear from Notre Dame these days. And if that happens, Jon Miller thinks the expansion stops there at 12 schools. What would be seismic enough to get Notre Dame to join the Big Ten? A 16-team Pac-South. What would guarantee to set that league in motion? Nebraska and Missouri immolating the Big XII by opting out. Best believe Jim Delany's getting calls every hour or so from Lincoln and Columbia.
Ah, but if Nebraska and Mizzou slink back to the conference with their tails between their legs, one of two things happens:
1) The Pac-10's invitations are rebuffed, and everyone's just stuck in their crappy, second-rate conference hating each other even more than last year.
2) The Pac-10's invitations are accepted, and the Big XII North has to stay together, hating each other even more than last year.
So that's it. Jump with no net in the general direction of the Big Ten, who's waiting for Notre Dame before even considering MU and NU and may not offer either school, or stay in the single most acrimonious, dysfunctional athletic conference in the NCAA today. Choose wisely, Tigers and Huskers. And do not expect to see the Texas schools to follow you wherever you choose to go.