It looks as if Texas has gotten what it desperately wanted: a "clean" exit from the Big XII. After helping impose an arbitrary yet demanding ultimatum on Nebraska's loyalties, Texas and its friends have used Nebraska's completely predictable response (fleeing in terror) as an excuse to get out of the wretched Big XII. As Chip Brown (who else?) reported yesterday, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, annnnd... (drumroll) Colorado have been invited to the Pac-16 and are expected to join. This will likely take place tomorrow.
And so, with only five of the original 12 teams left (ISU, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor), the Big XII is done, finished, kaput. It will automatically lose its BCS and NCAA tournament status with the departures of those seven teams, regardless of if Dan Beebe can convince Utah and TCU to come into the fold. Why? Because the NCAA predicted this type of scenario might happen. As the New York Times reports:
Under N.C.A.A. guidelines, a conference needs at least six universities that have played together for five years. The Big 12 would lose its Bowl Championship Series bid and automatic bid to the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament.
For the remaining schools--especially those ending in "State" or "aylor"--this is devastating news; the odds that they'll join another conference with BCS affiliation (and thus BCS money) is exceedingly slim. The Big East might take Kansas and/or Missouri, but that's contingent on equal departures from the 16-team basketball conference, and nobody can confirm that as yet.
ASIDE: It seems strange to pen an obituary for the Big XII while it's still alive. And we don't mean in the "formal announcements have not been made yet" sense, either; the earliest these teams can expect to play in their new conferences is 2012. We're going to have a contentious couple last years, aren't we? And who's going to keep any order? Dan Beebe? Seriously? This dynamic will be fascinating to watch unfold; it's like The Royal Tenenbaums, right down to people boning their adopted sisters. It's the Big XII. They all do that.
As always, it remains wise to keep in mind that this is not set in stone until official representatives from the schools and conferences announce things. Texas could still theoretically figure out a way to divorce itself from A&M an' 'em, at which point (according to this dubious-until-proven-otherwise rumor) they'd probably hop over to the Big Ten and try to bring Notre Dame with them. So we'll keep that in mind.
What's not going to happen, though, is that Texas stays in the Big XII. Oh, they'll claim to have tried their hardest to keep the conference together, but they could have accomplished that with or without Nebraska and/or Missouri in the fold. Nobody's ever asked Texas and A&M why, precisely, the conference couldn't survive without a Nebraska program that had spent the last few years lamenting the XII's increasingly Texas-centric approach. We can't even intuit a plausible answer why that's the case.
Moreover, it's disingenuous to pretend that Texas' Big Ten fantasies didn't start over 15 years ago, or that they haven't persisted since. After all, it's not as if Delany and OSU president Gordon Gee talked about Texas turning down the Big 10 on the conference's merits; it's that Texas Tech made it a "Tech Problem." If the Pac-10 wants to slather the Red Raiders in cash, it's their prerogative and it probably strengthens their conference in the immediate short term, but still. it's just TTU.
And so either the Pac-10 or the Big 10 happily welcomes into its conference the main actor in the only two I-A conference deaths of the last 50 years. If UT decides it can't be in a conference with a football program on a death sentence, then the Southwest Conference can't exist. If UT decides it can't be in a conference without a Nebraska program that's been complaining for years about the (state of) Texas-centric approach of the conference, then the Big XII can't exist. And if, in a couple decades, UT decides to convince Ohio State/USC that they can't handle conference network revenue sharing when they're in the same conference as Northwestern/Washington State or Purdue/Stanford , then the Big/Pac Tewhatever can't exist either. And just like every time before, we'll all act so, so surprised.