Conference Realignment Summary

Can you imagine prime time games against USC in the Coliseum? That could be a reality now. Image via laist.com

What We Know For Sure

  • Colorado has joined the Pacific-10 Conference officially. Below is a quote from the Pac-10 press release. Colorado is a great fit for the conference based on a number of factors including academics. While they may not be a football superpower right now, they do have a history of having a solid program.
    The Pacific-10 Conference announced today that the University of Colorado at Boulder has accepted an invitation to join the Conference as its 11th member, the first new member since July 1, 1978. "This is an historic moment for the Conference, as the Pac-10 is poised for tremendous growth. The University of Colorado is a great fit for the Conference both academically and athletically and we are incredibly excited to welcome Colorado to the Pac-10," said Commissioner Larry Scott.
  • Nebraska has been "unofficially" invited to the Big 10, and pretty much everything else is a formality at this point. From ESPN:
    A source close to the Nebraska program told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that athletic director Tom Osborne informed some staff members within the past 24 hours the Cornhuskers were going to make the move to the Big Ten conference. A source with knowledge of the Big Ten's plans confirmed to ESPN.com that Nebraska will join the Big Ten by the end of the week or early next week. The source said the formal process of accepting a candidate either has started or would be under way shortly, as Nebraska must formally apply for admission to the Big Ten.

More after the jump, including where OU stands, and implications for college football as a whole. We are definitely at the beginning of one of the biggest shifts to the college sports landscape in a long time.

What Is Very Likely

  • Texas Tech, Texas and Texas A&M want to stick together:
    The official said those three Texas universities have vowed to stick together through any major conference upheaval
  • Oklahoma wants to follow Texas in order to preserve the traditional rivalry in all the sports.
    The Chattanooga Times Free Press's Wes Rucker (a very reliable guy) says that Oklahoma's AD Joe Castiglione told the Tulsa World about the SEC talking with OU about inclusion. No word on whether an official offer was extended (I highly doubt it), but Oklahoma has decided to follow Texas wherever it goes.
  • Based on the previous two bullet points, it seems likely that a block of five teams will stick together - Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. This makes it all the more interesting that TMZ (yea, I know, ha ha) is reporting that Oklahoma State to the Pac 10 is a done deal. This makes it more likely that the Pac-16 scenario that has been widely reported will become a reality - probably in the next week.
    A source in the OK State athletic department tells TMZ Sports the move is a "done deal." The Pac-10 just made it official that Colorado is also jumping off the Big 12 ship. We're told it's "just a matter of time" before the OK State announcement is also made.

Recap

Based on all of this, we're about 75% sure the following will happen:

  • The Big 10 will expand to 12 teams now, and may not expand further than that. This would set up the ability to have a conference championship game in football and two divisions of 6 teams. Would this wind up being re-dubbed the Big 12? The two divisions would likely be split into an east and west to preserve rivalries and because the locations of the schools are very extensive in that particular direction. Perhaps we would see a West Division of Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Illinois, and an East Division of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Indiana.
  • The Pac-10 would likely need a new name as it becomes the nation's first superconference. The first division could be called the Pac-8 actually, and it would even comprise the original Pac-8 teams: California, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State. The second division would involve Arizona and Arizona State, along with the 6 new Big 12 teams - Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado.

Left Out In The Cold

Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State, and Missouri will be looking for a new home. This has big implications for Kansas and Kansas State, who have good basketball teams and will be without a major conference to play in. The Big 10 may nab Missouri as well, but that would put them at 13 teams, and then they would need to find either 1 or 3 more teams to invite. Notre Dame seems unlikely to join a conference anytime soon as they have their own sweet deal in place.

Other Rumors

jtesooner just posted a rumor that Texas and Texas A&M were petitioning to join the Big 10 and that OU was petitioning to join the SEC. This seems unlikely as Oklahoma and Texas have indicated that they'll be joined at the hip through this process, and the Texas schools have said they'll try to stick together as well. I doubt that OU would simply abandon its two biggest rivals - OSU and Texas - for a completely new conference.

I haven't heard a reliable rumor yet that has connected any of the Big 12 South teams to the Big 10. The only thing that I've heard with respect to the SEC is that Texas A&M showed interest, but that Texas talked them out of it.

Bottom Line For OU

The ultimate message is that Colorado and Nebraska are gone, and that the rest of the Big 12 is twiddling their thumbs until Texas decides what to do. I know that doesn't sound the greatest, but it is absolutely true. Oklahoma has a solid enough athletic reputation that they will land in one of the three conferences: Pac-10, Big 10, or SEC. In all likelihood, they'll follow Texas unless something absolutely crazy happens. I would put the probabilities at Pac-10: 75%, Big 10 15%, SEC 10% at this point.

What This Means For College Football

The expansion craze likely means a shift towards a college football playoff system and conference championship games in every conference. The big conferences will need a championship game at the end of the season in order to sort out the best of the best. Hopefully this will lead to a more equitable postseason situation for everyone.

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