There has been so, so much talk. So much speculation. So much misinformation.
So much confusion. Let's be honest about that. There are a lot of writers out there who don't know as much as they'd like you to think they do. Some are doing a good job, but others are jumping the gun — just as we saw in the 96-teams-is-going-to-happen fiasco with the tournament two months ago.
How'd that turn out?
Is it OK to admit just how unpredictable his conference realignment scenario is? Yes. Likewise, the coverage of it all has been too hard to keep up with, lest you chance reading all of it and find yourself in this scenario.
But this afternoon, when we got word that Nebraska made the first move (unofficially) to jettison its conference, that's when the bell was supposedly rung to other Big 12 schools: We made our decision, now it's time to make yours.
With Nebraska's shift comes word from the Los Angeles Times' Chris Dufresne that the Pac-10 will send out invitations to Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Those invitations could come in 48 hours or a week.
Less than a week ago, it was a similar report that started this summertime snowball.
But let's discuss our options, OK?
Is Texas the bad guy in this? No. Remember, though it's considered a foregone conclusion that Texas will now ditch the Big 12 because Nebraska flinched first (and this logic still escapes me, so I'm open for some education on the matter), high-ranking members of the Texas school system are meeting Thursday to decide just what to do with the future of their schools.
So there's time. Men sitting around tables, discussing money, geography and logic can still come to a resolution that doesn't involve a bloated, uneven conference. As of now, with Nebraska most certainly gone, the Big 12 has 11 teams and opportunities to save its conference. Schools like Boise State, TCU and Utah would all gladly accept an invitation.
Texas will be the one that dictates what happens. And it's not like the Big 12 (which isn't even 20 years old) is worth saving — it's that six Big 12 schools going to the Pac-10 will create such homogeny that the landscape of football could be affected for the worse.
Does Texas want to share a conference with USC? And vice versa? Don't both prefer being the alpha? Texas cannot use Nebraska's decision as a scapegoat; with the amount of power the Longhorns have, it should be proud to know it can keep the Big 12 alive by staying. I know Nebraska's a tradition-laden school, but since when did its decisions become the Ouija board for Texas?
Nothing has to happen here. If the Big Ten isn't seeking anyone else out in the Big 12 for expansion (Missouri may be waiting in Nebraska's back seat and not show itself until it arrives in the Big Ten, though), the Big 12 can be spared. The Pac-10, which has a contingency plan to only pluck Colorado — if Texas says no — may have to settle for a 12-team look. And there are a lot of purists out there who would be fine with "accepting" that fate.
This deal isn't finished (has it begun?), and when those men affiliated with the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech sit down tomorrow, they'll need to make decisions based upon the future of their programs. Money will drive it, and that's fine, but I'd like some transparency. Nebraska's decision should have absolute minimal impact on the Big 12 as we now know it.
Texas has never stopped short of boasting about its control over the Big 12 before, and it needs to accept to responsibility of carrying the weight of the conference now, when the future of the college landscape rests on its shoulders.