Friday brought two tremors, but biggest move still to come
Nebraska left Big 12 for Big Ten, but dispelled blame for Big 12 destruction
Mountain West might make more moves, but locked up Boise for time being
Texas regents have called Tuesday meeting to discuss the school's future
The Big 12 has 10 members. The Big Ten has 12 members.
That pretty much sums up the state of college athletics after two more tremors shook the earth Friday afternoon. Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big Ten, further reinforcing the likelihood that the Big 12 will disintegrate. Meanwhile, Boise State left the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West as that league attempts to strengthen its position for the upcoming free-agent grab.
It appears the Big One will hit Tuesday, when the University of Texas board of regents meets to discuss the Longhorns' conference affiliation. Texas is a candidate to move to the Pac-10, which took Colorado from the Big 12 on Thursday. Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State also are candidates to move to the Pac-10. Texas A&M is being courted by the Pac-10 and the SEC.
Nebraska was considered the linchpin in the Big 12. Speaking to the school's board of regents Friday, Chancellor Harvey Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne worked to dispel that notion. "I do not believe that we bear that responsibility," Perlman said. "One school leaving a conference does not destroy a conference."
Perlman said it became obvious the Big 12 was in peril when Missouri officials began hinting that school might move to the Big Ten and Colorado officials began hinting that school might move to the Pac-10. So Nebraska officials approached Big Ten leaders for "informal discussions." This week, Big Ten officials promised to accept Nebraska's application. The Cornhuskers expect to begin play in the Big Ten in 2011, further hastening the demise of the Big 12.
Perlman said that with the Big 12 on shaky ground, he felt Nebraska had little choice but to move. "We thought Nebraska was in a very vulnerable position," he said. "By geography, we sit with not a lot of options." Now that regents have approved the move to the Big Ten, Perlman is confident Nebraska's athletic program will be taken care of. "This," Perlman said, "will bring Nebraska the stability the Big 12 cannot offer."
Friday evening, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said he looks forward to Nebraska contributing to the league for the next "50 or 100 years." Delany said the Big Ten didn't intend to expand so quickly, but the events around the country forced the league to make a move. Delany said that now that the league has 12 teams, it can stage a conference championship game in football.
Delany also said the Big Ten might not be finished growing. "We're still on the 12- to 18-month timeframe to look, to be aware," Delany said. "There are going to be a lot of changes around us. ... If something makes sense to our presidents, athletic directors and our faculty and it will improve us, then we'll make that change."
Meanwhile, in Austin, Texas, the University of Texas regents have called a meeting for Tuesday at noon eastern time. The key agenda item: "Discussion and appropriate action regarding athletic conference membership." Meanwhile, RedRaiderSports.com quoted Texas Tech chancellor Kent Hance as saying that school's board of regents will meet Tuesday at 3 p.m. eastern.
With the Big 12 on the verge of implosion, other conferences are circling. The Mountain West, after delaying a decision last week on whether to add Boise State, changed course and decided to add the Broncos on Friday. If nothing else, the addition of Boise State strengthens the Mountain West's effort to qualify for an automatic qualifying berth in the BCS for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. "As the week progressed and dominoes started falling, the feeling was, hey, let's get better," Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson told SI.com on Friday.
But Thompson added that the Mountain West may not stand pat. If five more schools do leave the Big 12, Thompson said his league would consider adding some of the leftovers -- Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri could be left in the league -- or even potentially merging with the Big 12. "That could be a possibility," Thompson said. "Everything is on the table right now." Thompson said some schools have approached the Mountain West. "Phones work both ways," he said. "I've had several phone calls from institutions in the past 24 hours."
Other conferences also are circling the Big 12. In a note to fans posted on the East Carolina athletic department Web site, athletic director Terry Holland said Conference USA also intends to make a play for the schools left behind in the Big 12. "Conference USA," Holland wrote, "is rapidly preparing to compete for the remaining Big 12 members if the meltdown continues to a full implosion."
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