The Ground Will Shift

I may change the name of my blog to "After The Fact".

I just deleted two posts from the queue because the subject I was going to write about is old news already, so there's nothing for me to say. This happens more than you know and that is why the "After The Fact" moniker is apt.

Which leads me to get right on this topic because I've been turning it over in my mind for weeks now and by the weekend there may be very little left to anticipate.

The national college athletics landscape will probably undergo a change soon. This is an understatement of the one hundredth magnitude. Remember when the Big 10 added Penn State? Remember when Arkansas left the Southwest Conference for the Southeast Conference? Remember how the SWC fell apart and four of those schools joined the Big 8 to form the Big 12? Kid stuff. All of it, kid stuff compared to what may transpire in the weeks and months ahead and the first shoe may drop this weekend.

Some months ago the Big 10 Conference made it known that it intended to expand to at least 12 teams. Once a conference gets to 12, it can create divisions and hold a conference championship football game. It can be lucrative and keeps the conference in the news during the lull before the bowl games start. It is believed that the Big 10 is interested in asking Missouri to join. Additionally, it came out that the Big 10 might not stop at 12 but might go to 14 or 16 teams, forming a super conference. Possible additions included Notre Dame, UConn, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, Kansas and Texas, as well as Missouri.

This news caused other conferences and media outlets to begin speculation about what Big 10 expansion might mean. Simply it would mean the first domino. Other conferences would contemplate, probably pursue, getting to super conference size of 14 or 16. Logically, they cannot ALL get that large and it would mean that some conference(s) would cease to exist. Most often mentioned as likely expanders were the Southeast and the Pac-10.

But that was just openers. This week the floodgates opened. The Big 12 held their annual meeting and apparently delivered an ultimatum to Missouri and Nebraska to declare their intentions concerning conference fealty by Friday.

At the same time, the Pac-10 was meeting and it's commissioner was given the liberty to extend to any number of schools invitations to join if he, the commissioner, thought it in the best interest of the conference. Near the end of those meetings, a website believed to be credible reported that the Pac-10 would extend invitations to the Big 12 South schools, minus Baylor, plus Colorado, effectively blowing up the Big 12.

That is roughly where we are without anything actually happening. Many questions loom. What will Missouri and Nebraska say Friday? This preemptive strike by the Big 10 may be turned into a reactionary move if the Pac-10 moves first. Will they? Whither Notre Dame, which treasures it's independence in football, but may lose it's conference for other sports, the Big East, in all the upheaval. If Notre Dame finally joins the Big 10, will that be all the conference does? And if Big 10 didn't have any more interest in Missouri, but the Texas schools pull out of the Big 12 killing that league, will Mizzou be left with no conference? Was the Big 10's announcement of its intentions designed to create chaos in order to drive Notre Dame to the safety conference alignment?

What looked like an 18-month story has turned into a fluid situation that changes daily.

And I wonder if the University of Texas should be independent. They killed the Southwest Conference and they are about to drive the Big 12 into the ground. Not because they are destructive, but because of competitive imbalance. Nobody can stay with them. If I were the Pac-10, I would be careful what I asked for unless I want the Longhorns winning the conference most of the time.

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