With Colorado officially off to the Pac 10 and Nebraska's "official" announcement about moving to the Big Ten expected today, college football is in a state of flux that we haven't seen in...well probably ever. So many scenarios, so many possibilities, so many different takes on what could happen. After reading a LOT of informed opinions this morning with the opening match of the World Cup on in the background, I have a few expanded related questions...
IF THE BIG TEN CAN'T GET NOTRE DAME OR TEXAS, IS THERE ANY SENSE IN FURTHER EXPANSION RIGHT NOW?
Unless I'm missing something, the answer is unequivocally NO. The Big Ten made a solid addition with Nebraska and will now be able to get their coveted championship game with 12 teams. Without question they are stronger now than before, and are the most stable, profitable conference in all of college football. So for me, it makes no sense whatsoever to continue expanding if it doesn't include Notre Dame or Texas (and for some reason, I am growing less and less enamored with the idea of UT joining us. More on that in a bit). If Texas goes to the Pac 10 and takes the rest of the Big 12 South with them, why does that force the Big Ten to expand?
Let the other conferences fight for the remaining scraps and see what happens. Conference expansion is all about money, and about making MORE revenue for your current members. No other scenario that doesn't involve the Irish or Horns seems like it would make the Big Ten's current members more money, so why bother? If the B10 stops at 12 teams, it does NOT mean the door on further expansion has closed forever. In a year, three years, or five years, the Big Ten is still going to be making a ton of money and will still be a desirable destination for any school not in the SEC, and possibly the Pac 10 (while the potential Pac 16 COULD be a big money maker, there's no way of knowing until it actually happens and we see what the TV revenue looks like). We can still get anyone we want outside of those two conferences just like we could today.
Furthermore, why risk shutting out the Irish entirely just for a quick money grab now? No, if you're expanding beyond 12 it only makes sense to do so with Notre Dame, and if the folks in South Bend aren't quite ready yet, we can wait.
WHY DOES NEBRASKA AND COLORADO LEAVING KILL THE BIG 12?
ESPN radio's Colin Cowherd, as well as Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg, have both raised this question, and I have not heard a rational explanation for it yet: really, why does these two schools leaving kill the Big 12? Why couldn't you add two of Utah, BYU, TCU, or Boise State and keep right on trucking? What's becoming evident is that the entire conference revolves around Texas (and primarily around UT), and the Big 12's formation was a shot-gun marriage where the Horns called the shots and have basically been running the thing all along.
So what's really changed by losing two disgruntled members? The conference still has the state of Texas teams and OU, and Texas still has its unequal revenue share: so why isn't that good enough anymore? New ESPN.com Big 12 blogger David Ubben has the simple answer: money. UT is the richest athletic department in the country, yet they're perfectly willing to screw the rest of their Big 12 brethren to get even more.
To me, that was the most ironic-and ridiculous- part of the whole "Pledge Your Allegiance" deadline Texas- I mean the Big 12- imposed on Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado earlier in the week: the Horns were trying to pin the blame for the Big 12 falling apart on these three schools when it's really Texas who's trying to make the whole thing crumble. UT could still make a ton of money by keeping the Big 12 together, but they see a bigger prize available in the Pac 10 or Big Ten (while there's a lot of different scenarios floating about, one that will NOT happen is Texas to the SEC). So out of one side of their mouths Texas is talking about loyalty to the Big 12, out of the other their talking to Larry Scott and Jim Delany in hopes of getting a better deal and screwing the rest of the Big 12. You stay classy, Texas.
WHY WOULDN'T TEXAS A&M JOIN THE SEC INSTEAD OF THE PAC 10?
What am I missing here? The Aggies and their conservative fan base are a perfect fit in the culture of the SEC, and would be a complete misfit in the Pac 10. Not only that, but while A&M doesn't have quite the pull the Longhorns do, they would still have a ton of fans in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio that would make them, and the SEC, a ton more TV money. As a matter of fact, I don't see how it's possible that A&M could make more revenue in the Pac 10 than the SEC.
So not only does it make more sense financially, culturally, and geographically to join the SEC, but they could also put the screws to their arch-rivals Texas. A&M would get a really sweet deal of their own, and would certainly lessen what Texas was trying to do in the Pac 10. It's a win-win-win for the Aggies.
WHEN THE BIG 12 FALLS APART, WHY WOULDN'T THE REMAINING SCHOOLS JUST ADD THE MOUNTAIN WEST AND KEEP THEIR AUTOMATIC BCS BID?
Rittenberg posed this idea in his latest chat, and I have to say, it makes all the sense in the world: the Big 12 is obligated to provide an automatic qualifier for the BCS every year. So instead of the Mountain West scooping up the remaining Big 12 schools and then petitioning the BCS for a bid, why wouldn't the remaining Big 12 schools just add the Mountain West and voila! they can keep their automatic BCS bid without having to ask for one? I would bet Big 12 commish Dan Beebe and the folks in the Mountain West figured this one out a long time ago, and when the Big 12 South leaves for the west coast, this could happen.