MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA 2010™: Another Lazy Sunday

So the word is that it was not the Big 12, but the Big 12 presidents who gave Mizzou and Nebraska.  I may have initially misinterpreted what I read.  If this is true, this makes a lot more sense to me.  I thought this was insane if coming from Beebe's offices, but I can see why the presidents would want to force the hands of the Tigers and Huskers.  The message is basically, "We'd like to stay in this conference, but only with the same roster it is now. If you don't commit, then whichever six schools get offers from the Pac-10 will have to think hard about jumping ... and exactly how confident are you in the Big Ten comin' a-knocking?"

In this regard, I would want my school to be forcing the issue a bit, especially from the schools that appear to be geographically screwed in the current expansion scenarios (i.e. Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, probably Baylor).  Here's the problem, though: this ultimatum would carry a lot more weight if jumping from a Big 12 (with diminished chances for a "Big 12 / Pac-10 Network" on the horizon, for obvious burnt-bridge reasons) to a Pac-16 were a parallel move.  But a Pac-16 that encompasses half the country geographically, and roughly 40% of the nation's top TV markets, is extremely tantalizing.  And what exactly would stop Texas, after a "pledge" from Nebraska and Missouri, from saying "You know, this is actually too much of an upgrade to pass up, especially since it would keep most of our historical rivalries in place"?  It's not like there will be any sort of blood oath commitment from anybody to stay in the Big 12, and it would be counter-productive to commit to a conference that presents a lesser option for your school, both athletically, financially and academically.

If the Pac-16 does indeed extend invites, which could apparently happen soon, it would be stupid of the offered Big 12 teams to turn it down in unison if it would result in better revenue, exposure, etc.  While historical rivalries are clearly worth something in college sports, and I appreciate that a school like OU would hesitate to abandon century-old rivalries, you must act in your entire school's best interests.  Like Mizzou to the Big Ten, if a school like OU or Texas Tech or any of the six teams offered (even Texas) were to be offered a chance to make infinitely more money and share a conference with institutions like Stanford, they would be silly to pass it up just because Mizzou or Nebraska "committed" to the conference.  I understand why certain programs want to force Mizzou's and Nebraska's hands (if anything, I appreciate the thought that Mizzou is actually important to the conference after a month or two of "You're nothing. Go. See if anybody cares" sentiment), but an aggressive expansion attempt by the Pac-10 completely changes the game.  And for the same reason Mizzou and Nebraska would be intrigued by the thought of joining the Big Ten, half the conference might be about to have a very tough decision to make.  This is no longer about MU or NU.

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