We’ve known for some time that the current landscape of college sports would be changing at some point. The Big Ten started it by agreeing to look at expansion. The Pac 10 then made it obvious that were interested in expansion and the SEC has made it known that they will look at expansion once the Big Ten and Pac 10 make their moves. The Big 10 though had been hoping to make this a slower, more drawn out process. However, that may have changed.
This past week the Pac 10’s plans to add 6 teams from the Big XII (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado) to become the Pac 16 were leaked. It appears those six schools are seriously considering that offer as they have put an ultimatum on Nebraska to commit to the Big XII by Friday (Missouri may have received the ultimatum as well.) Nebraska (and Missouri) are, of course, being courted by the Big Ten for their expansion. The problem is though that Big Ten still has not formally giving out an invitation to anyone. So, Nebraska is now stuck in a unenviable position. Do they commit to a conference that may not exist much longer or do they depend on the Big Ten to come invite them and risk potentially being left out to dry?
The good news for Nebraska though is that their does seem to be some mutual interest between the Big Ten and Nebraska. Reportedly, Nebraska AD Tom Osborne and Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel met recently to talk about expansion. While this is still informal talks, its obvious that Tressel was talking on behalf of the Big Ten to Osborne. For the Big Ten, adding Nebraska does add another strong traditional football program, although it does not add a great television network for the Big Ten Network. Assuming Missouri comes over as well, the Big Ten would probably have to add Rutgers and Syracuse (plus another school – Iowa State?) to attempt to gain the New York market for the Big Ten Network.
Regardless, it appears the new landscape for major collegiate sports is about to become set. With the Big XII’s ultimatum we’ll see Nebraska have to decide its future. After that, we’ll see whether the other six Big XII schools are ready to move over to the Pac 10 or not. From there, the remaining 4 Big XII schools will have to find new homes and the ACC and Big East will hope to keep their schools from joining a potentially expanding SEC. One thing we know for sure, college football and basketball will look vastly different soon than it does today.