Nebraska appears poised to join the Big Ten. Texas is trying to figure out if it can save the crumbling Big 12. And Kansas is just hoping some major conference will throw it a life preserver. In the wake of a wild week of conference realignment chatter, here's a look at how we reached this point and what will happen next:
1. Why would Nebraska leave the Big 12 in favor of the Big Ten?
Nebraska is apparently willing to sacrifice its traditional rivalries with the likes of Oklahoma and Texas in favor of a heftier payday. The Huskers would receive about $20 million in annual TV revenue in the Big Ten, more than double what they're currently getting in the Big 12.
When the Big 12 gave Nebraska until the end of the week to pledge its loyalty or take its chances elsewhere, school officials needed assurances from the Big Ten that they would be offered membership.The Big Ten reportedly responded by accelerating its expansion time-table by six to 12 months and extending the Huskers an invitation, one which the Nebraska board of regents reportedly will formally accept when it convenes on Friday.
2. What will happen to the Big 12 now?
With Nebraska all but gone and Missouri and Colorado hoping to follow the Huskers out the door, the future of the Big 12 is so bleak that Orangebloods.com's Chip Brown declared it "dead" during an interview on SportsCenter Wednesday afternoon. Brown reported that Texas officials gathered their coaches together "to tell them they did all they could to save B12 but were unsuccessful."
The New York Times said Wednesday night that officials from Texas and Texas A&M will meet Thursday in hopes of formulating a last-ditch plan to save the Big 12. If that's unsuccessful, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Colorado will each likely accept invitations to join the Pac-10 in 2012 and the Big 12 will cease to exist.
3. Why does the Pac-10 want to add these six teams?
Texas was the school the Pac-10 coveted the most because of the TV revenue and football pedigree the Longhorns bring, so commissioner Larry Scott created the most enticing offer he could. He gave Texas a means of leaving the Big 12 without sacrificing any of its most historic rivalries.
The only potential sticking point could be the Pac-10's decision to invite Colorado instead of Baylor. Colorado is a better fit for the conference geographically and because it's not a religious school, but the Texas state legislature has urged Texas and Texas A&M to try to keep the Big 12's four in-state schools together long term.
4. How will the Pac-10 respond if Texas declines its invitation?
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Pac-10 could scale back its expansion plans and court Colorado and one other school, maybe Utah from the Mountain West Conference. Adding those two would give the Pac-10 a foothold in the Denver and Salt Lake City markets and allow the conference to hold a championship game in football, but it would also require existing members to split TV revenue two more ways.
5. Will Missouri receive an invitation to join Nebraska in the Big Ten?
It seemed like Missouri's invitation to the Big Ten was a foregone conclusion as recently as a few days ago, but a Chicago Tribune report suggests that's no longer the case. If Notre Dame remains uninterested in sacrificing its status as an independent and joining the Big Ten, then the Tribune report says "the Big Ten appears likely to cap at 12 teams."
The Columbia Tribune reports that Missouri officials remain tight-lipped about their plans, leading to speculation that they may have "an ace up their sleeve." Tigers fans better hope so because if Missouri receives the cold shoulder from the Big Ten and the Big 12 dissolves, the school will have to scramble to align itself with a major conference.
6. If the Big 12 dissolves, where will the leftover teams go?
Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and perhaps Missouri have the most to lose if Big 12 collapses because none of them are guaranteed a spot in another major conference. The Big East reportedly would be interested in the Big 12's leftovers, but there are certainly no guarantees.
If the geographical concerns of joining the Big East are too great, the Mountain West is also a possibility, albeit not necessarily an attractive one. The Mountain West opted to wait on offering membership to Boise State on Monday in hopes that exactly this scenario presented itself.