College Football and Big Ten Expansion – Part 2

Following up on my previous post, Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten is now official. The next move is Texas’ to make. Indications are that Texas will move to a new Pac-16 (along with Colorado, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State). Even though Texas A&M might like the SEC, Texas does not due to its desire to preserve its academic reputation. Preservation of the Big 12 or a merger with the Mountain West Conference remains a possibility.

It seems that even though the Big Ten would like Texas, a few things will now stop this from happening: (1) Nebraska’s dislike of Texas; (2) Texas’ lack of contiguous geography to Big Ten states; (3) Notre still wants to be an independent and preserve the Big East; and (4) Texas being tied to Texas A&M.

Nebraska will begin conference play very quickly on July 1, 2011, so watch those schedules closely. Due to this short timeframe and the concerns above, I doubt that the Big Ten will invite another team into its membership in the next 12 months. They will instead stick to 12 teams, have a conference championship game, and have, I predict, the following division structure.

East: Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State

West: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Illinois

Then the Big Ten will sit back and watch. If the Big East implodes in response to the other conference shifts, then Notre Dame may join the Big Ten, with potentially, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, or Rutgers. Though Texas could always move again.

For more on legal implications of college football conferences, see Professor Michael McCann’s post at http://sports-law.blogspot.com/2010/06/legal-and-political-implications-of.html.

And we’re still left to ponder: What about Kansas basketball? If the Big 12 implodes, can they survive as an independent?

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