Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

09 Jun 2010

Nebraska Could Be First Blow To Big 12

The demise of the Big 12, as written by Bill Connelly yesterday, could be happening sooner than anyone expected. It's hard to separate all the rumors out there, but multiple sources have told ESPN.com that Nebraska will be making a move to the Big Ten as early as Friday.

That move could create a landslide of moves across the country. Notre Dame and Missouri also reportedly have offers to join the Big Ten, which are being seriously considered. If the Big 12 loses two schools, it could also risk losing up to six more (and as a result, dissolving) to the Pac-10. If Texas heads to the Pac-10, that would be the end of the Big 12.

In other words, starting on Friday, college football could change completely -- in a hurry. Or it couldn't.

Posted by: David Gardner on 09 Jun 2010

59 comments, Last at 11 Jun 2010, 3:10pm by Will Allen


by Raiderjoe :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 9:23pm

if nebrasks move tomorrow then Big 10 become big 12 and trhen Big 12 become Big 11

point is these conferffence need to create new better names. Sky confernence ((very discriptive), Moutnain West (in west and most schools are mountainy), and Confeerence USA (that one bland but effectivie) good healthy names. Need more like that. Atlantic coast Conference good name too. Good partrly becuause has no number attacked to it. Pac 10, Big 12, Big 10, all dumb names for conferencnes.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 9:22pm

I'll repeat from the other thread; if Texas and Oklahoma end up in Pac 10, while the Big 10 ends up with Nebraska and Missouri, Jim Delaney is a bigger schmuck than I thought he was, which is a significant achievement.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 9:23pm

I'll repeat from the other thread; if Texas and Oklahoma end up in Pac 10, while the Big 10 ends up with Nebraska and Missouri, Jim Delaney is a bigger schmuck than I thought he was, which is a significant achievement.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:38pm

The Big Ten doesn't want Oklahoma, and frankly I'm surprised the Pac-10 would take four so-so academic schools to land Texas (if Colorado has an invite; five if the rumor replacing them with Baylor is true).

If they get Nebraska, Missouri, and some Big East school, I'll be a bit disappointed. I'd prefer they get Texas and not even ask Notre Dame, but Delany's slavish desire to pursue the Irish isn't going to wear off any time soon.

by JIPanick :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:38am

Texas A&M is not a so-so academic school.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:10am

I think it's Texas Tech that doesn't have the academic standards. Also, as I understand it, Texas, T A&M, and TT are a package deal. Anyone know better?

by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:34am

The Texas Legislature probably won't allow those three to be in different conferences, from what I've read on message boards, which of course makes that gospel.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by TomKelso :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:40am

Texas politics pretty much dictates that Tech be involved -- and that UT and A&M stay together.

The story always was that Baylor joined the Big 12 instead of Houston because approval was needed by the Texas legislature, and the then-Governor was a Baylor grad, so the deal was struck. I guess we know what college Rick Perry DIDN'T go to.

If the Pac-10 was leery of Baylor or BYU, wait until they get a load of the Aggies. The Stanford band might not be allowed into the state.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:16pm

correct. I was miscounting, I should have been more direct. The Big Ten couldn't lock Texas in (yet) because they were interested in only Texas and A&M; suspicion is that either three or four Texas schools would have to move as a package, although I have read ways in which this could be avoided. (Obviously that's even beyond conjecture at this point.)

The Pac-10 would be taking three so-so academic schools, now that Colorado has openly accepted. (That would leave Baylor out, apparently, so only Tech would be part of the Texas/A&M package.)

by D :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 11:01pm

The fact is the Texas legislature has shackled Texas Tech to the Longhorn's ankles and there is no way the Big 10 is going to except Tech and its Tier 3 academic rating into the conference. It's not fair to Texas or the the Big 10 but that's how it is. Yeah, Delaney deserves some criticism for some of the other moves he's made, but this one is out of his hands.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:48am

This isn't really about Nebraska, Missouri, or even Texas and Oklahoma. It's always been about Notre Dame. Rightly or wrongly, Notre Dame is considered by many to be the crown jewel of college football. And Notre Dame unintentionally may have spurred all this when the AD said that Notre Dame would only ever consider giving up its independent status if it was to protect itself against a wave of 3 or 4 super conferences dominating college football. It's entirely possible that Delaney heard that and thought, "OK, so how do I bring that about?" This is the first domino.

by Eddo :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:01am

Geography is a factor, too. The Big Ten has a strong preference (it might even be a formal rule) that any new league members must be in states that are adjacent to any current Big Ten states. Nebraska borders Iowa. Missouri borders Iowa and Illinois. Texas and Oklahoma do not border any current Big Ten-occupied states.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:04am

Kind of like in Risk.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:21am

The Big Ten is looking to complete the whole "Midwest" region, which will give it an extra 4 armies per turn.

by Eddo :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:52am

Bravo, guys.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:18am

I believe it is a formal rule, although I'm sure rules can be changed if enough money is on the table.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:18pm

It is not a formal rule, and Delany (or one or more presidents) specifically mentioned this when explorations began: they would prefer to look in the general area (read: Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame, Pitt) but would not feel constrained to do so (read: Texas, Rutgers).

by Travis :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:33pm

Rutgers is closer to the closest other Big Ten member (Penn State) than Nebraska is to Iowa, and New Jersey borders Pennsylvania. That said, it's not quite the same fit as the other mentioned schools.

by sswoods (not verified) :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:15pm

No, the biggest schmuck is Beebe. I mean, as soon as whispers that Mizzou might be going to the Big Ten had some legitimacy there needed to be some pre-emptive movement or the conference was dead - and now the plug is being pulled Terri Shiavo style. Watch the Big 12 dehydrate to death.

by zlionsfan :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:41pm

Beebe is something of a schmuck, I guess, for letting the conference run at Texas' whim for so long, but they're clearly not in a position of strength (if they ever were in the first place). There isn't anything he can do.

Texas wanted their own network, not a Big 12 network, regardless of its viability. Without money like that (which would be down the road anyway), there's really nothing else Beebe could have done at that point. I'm not sure that making a public statement to the effect of "I see nothink, I hear nothink" wasn't such a good idea, but then if he'd said "It was good while it lasted, but it's over now," we'd already know where everyone was going.

by smose (not verified) :: Wed, 06/09/2010 - 10:54pm

Given the results of USC and Ohio State the past decade, I've felt like the Rose Bowl was wanting out of the BCS and back to its old arrangement for some time now. With potentially 32 teams in these 2 mega-conferences, the Rose Bowl could dump the BCS and lay clear claim to being the championship game; with the Big 12 dead and the weak ACC/Big East, this leaves the SEC alone with nobody to play.

We've been living with Bowl and BCS complaints for a long time now -- this could easily kill the BCS and might even force the NCAA's hand into real Division-1 realignment.

by speedegg :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:58am

If the Pac-16 forces the demise of the BCS, then Larry Scott is a better commissioner than anyone thought he was.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 9:06am

That brings up a good point... what happens now to the SEC, ACC and Big East? I'd bet that in the next year or two the SEC will pillage the ACC and/or Big East to keep up with the Joneses. Imagine the SEC adding Miami, VT, Georgia Tech, and maybe Florida State. They'd be right back on top of the college football pecking order.

The other question I'd have, which might have some bearing on how this all goes, is what exactly is going to happen with Notre Dame. IF (big if) Notre Dame were to join the Big Ten, would that just be in football? Notre Dame is a member of the Big East in every other sport. If they pull all their sports teams from the Big East to the Big Ten, that's going to create an imbalance Big East basketball that the Big East would likely go looking to fix.

captcha: foreign cervices

by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 9:40am

If, say, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Rutgers leave the Big East for the Big-10, you could probably replace them with Kansas, Kansas St, and Memphis without losing much in basketball...

Similarly, if the SEC takes all of the ACC football powers, something like Pitt, Cincy, Louisville, Memphis, WVU, UConn, BC, Georgetown, UVA, Maryland, Duke, UNC, NCSt, Wake Forest, Clemson, USF (the rest of the small catholic schools go to the A-10 or something) makes for a viable fourth 16-team conference. It'd be the worst in football but the best in basketball.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:14am

I guess I hadn't really been considering Syracuse or Rutgers as viable candidates to join the Big Ten once it became clear that the Big Ten was looking to expand westward, rather than eastward. I suppose they could do both, but a conference that spans from New York to Nebraska seems a little unwieldy (almost as unwieldy as a conference that spans from Washington State to Texas). I realize that the whole "more missed class time due to travel" excuse is a red herring, but there has to be some kind of limit. But I guess I could see Rutgers as being an appealling target, giving access to the NY/NJ market.

I had been thinking of Kansas as a more logical candidate for the Big Ten rather than the Big East. Kansas is a rival of Missouri and it brings a top-flight basketball program (which matters in the Big Ten). With Nebraska, Missouri, Notre Dame and Kansas, that would leave one more team to get the Big Ten to 16. I could see West Virginia, Louisville, Pitt, Cincinnati, K-State, or Iowa State as possibilites of varying levels of attractiveness.

by Dean :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:30am

Kansas will never be invited to join the Big 10. The reason which the Big 10 will use will be academics. It might even be a quaint little sliver of truth.

The real reason will be money. They don't stand to gain much in the way of TV ratings by adding more of Flyover Country. Missou is in the mix, to some extent or another, because they can deliver Kansas City and St. Louis.

The interesting thing is that Syracuse and Rutgers are both looked at as delivering the New York TV market, but yet nobody in NYC really cares. It's simply not a college town. They watch pro sports in the rotten apple, not college.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:02pm

"They don't stand to gain much in the way of TV ratings by adding more of Flyover Country."

No, but they stand to gain more TV money by increasing the profile of Big Ten basketball. Right now, the Big Ten is considered a 2nd-class conference in basketball. Adding Kansas to the mix can go a long way toward turning that around.

You might be right about the academics being the overriding factor, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees the irony of a major sports conference being hung up on academics. But one way or another, the Kansas basketball program will find that school a place in a major conference. Adding Kansas to the Big East just seems like overkill, not to mention an affront to the word "East". Other than the Big Ten, no other major conference makes geographic sense.

The only other alternative I can see is for the remaining 5 Big 12 schools to band together and try to poach some teams like Utah, BYU, New Mexico, Tulsa or Boise State and try to cobble together an 8-team conference. But it's hard to see how a school like Utah would see that situation as preferrable to the MWC.

by Duke :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:24pm

I doubt that adding Kansas to the Big 10 would make a big dent in people's view of it as a basketball conference.

That is, the people who consider it a second tier conference now are likely to continue to do so, probably regardless of who they add.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:21pm

Correct. People considering it a "second-class conference" mean "well, they didn't win the title in the last few years" and "we don't like the style of basketball they play." Adding any number of teams will not change that perception.

Believe it or not, academics really are a concern (and a big reason why Penn State joined: ask them about the difference in research money), and that rules out Kansas. If they weren't, the Big Ten would have been the conference making a play for the Big 12 South (minus one).

by DoubleB4 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:42am

This entire situation (massive conference realignment) has the feel of the real estate bubble. There are going to be a lot of unintended consequences as a result of this (should it happen).

by UTchamps (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:21am

If this massive realignment goes down, meaning that student athletes from Texas will have to travel to Washington state for games in the middle of the week, can we finally give up the pretense that a college football playoff system won't work because of interference with the student athletes academic commitments?

by wr (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:21am

Or more generally, can we finally give up the pretense that the
'student' part of "student athlete" means anything for the big
revenue sports?

by Dean :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:33am

Why do the semantics even matter?

by geekosphere101 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:22am

Yes. I'd be perfectly willing to drop the entire academic pretense and just start paying the players. All this is going to happen because of money anyways.

by dbostedo :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:17pm

This realignment won't change anything there. You already have players flying from Washington State to Arizona. Going to Texas is a lot more travel miles, but not really much more in the way of travel time or other significant impacts. The time zone issue might be something that's a factor, but not too much I'm guessing. You already have things like East Carolina traveling to UTEP, and TCU traveling to San Diego State.

Or perhaps the worst one - the WAC which has both Louisiana Tech, and Hawaii.

Since D1 teams all fly now, I think geographical considerations (in terms of time and actual geography, not rivalries and money) have mainly gone away.

by Eddo :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:09pm

To be fair, any conference with Hawaii would be the worst one with regards to travel.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:24pm

which is why the NCAA has waivers with respect to games/matches/tournaments/whatever played in Alaska or Hawaii; otherwise they'd never get anyone to play there. (In the old days, you could easily see the teams who played at Hawaii in football because they'd have played 12 games and everyone else played 11.)

This is also a reason why non-revenue sports are much less likely to be affected than people would otherwise have thought (including me): if Texas, for example, is already flying to pretty much every opponent in the Big 12 anyway, it doesn't matter quite as much to them if they're playing to Lincoln or to Altoona. (The converse may not be true - Penn State may not have to fly quite as much now as they would to Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas - but the additional money from the BTN and other sources is expected to make up for that.)

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:43am

As a non-american, I simply cannot fathom how college sports works. It seems to be an utter shambles, they can't decide who should be in which conference, who should play who outside of these conferences, who won the title or who should get the chance to win the title. It's all very odd, I can't think of any other sports organisation in the world that is so disfunctional. Is it all a case of mo money mo problems?

by wr (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:50am

It's all about the money, that's for sure. The reason they
don't have an actual championship is that it is more lucarative
for them to have meaningless post season games (known as 'bowls')
since they can have a lot more of these than you would in a

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:16pm

Personally, I think the NCAA championship "system" is a work of genius in that regard. The NCAA is the only sports organization that realizes that ambiguity and controversy create far money interst ($$$$) than fairness and a clear-cut structured system. This is why nearly every decision the NCAA makes appears to be almost designed to elicit head scratching.

by Bobman :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:24pm

March Madness seems to be a counterpont--lots of fan frenzy (office pools entered by people with no idea what a basketball looks like), more TV money than if there were a few "bowl games," and a single, undisputed winner. Maybe it's more of an ESPN/media product than the NCAA though....

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:30pm

Good point, in that at least they settle things in a rational fashion. But I think I also agree that March Madness is much more so a TV creation than an NCAA creation. And it's not without it's own share of controversy, as the qualifying criteria for an at-large invitation to the tournament is somewhat of a black box, based on things other than W-L record. Every year we hear about some team that should have been in and some team that should have been out. The seeding process also seems to be somewhat unpredictable.

by Dean :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:31pm

College basketball was a nonentity until they created the tournament and force-fed it to the public.

It's kind of like fashion. You take something that isn't improved at all, and isn't really new, but you give it a huge promotional budget and tell people that all the cool people are watching, and people are expected to follow it. But at the end of the day, it's all boring hype. The fact that the regular season is meaningless didn't matter in basketball because hardly anybody was making big money on the regular season anyway.

College Football, on the other hand, is a cash cow without having to resort to a tournament.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 11:38am

People care about college basketball for a month. People care about college football for probably 8 months (August-January, plus a couple of months before signing day). Personally, I'd say that the current college football system is working a hell of a lot better than the current college basketball system.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:43pm

The NCAA does not have much control over how the football programs organize themselves; the university presidents of 6-7 conferences control things. Secondly, I think it is far more likely that their parochialism is leaving a very large sum of money on the table. Six 16 team conferences, or eight 12 team conferences, playing a post season tournament which starts in December, and ends in early January would, if properly promoted, likely generate television revenues which would dwarf what the BCS bowls generate.

by Dean :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 4:05pm

At the cost of the regular season, and a net revenue loss overall.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 1:16am

No.Just the opposite, in fact.

by Dean :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 9:28am

In fact, huh? And how do you establish this "fact?"

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 10:43am

The same way you established the accuracy of your assertion.

by Dean :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 11:55am

The difference is, I did not present my opinion as fact. You did. So I'm just asking what facts you have at your disposal?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 12:05pm

Please diagram this sentence.....

"At the cost of the regular season, and a net revenue loss overall."

...and demonstrate in what way it is not an asertion of fact.

by Dean :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 1:25pm

If I were to waste my time on such an endeavor, I would indicate that the opinion is implied. Yours, on the other hand, if you want to be pissy about it, was expressly stated.

And you're still avoiding supporting how your statement - which you expressed as fact - is a fact.

Don't waste your time answering. I'm done with this thread.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 3:10pm

You've already been pissy about it, by responding to my assertion of fact in a manner which fails to recognize that it mirrored the same unsupported, unqualified, assertion of fact that you employed first. On the off chance that you do read this, I will give you a lesson in writing. In a previous post, I employed the qualifier "likely", to explcitly state that this was not a matter of factual certitude. You, in turn, made a flat assertion of fact. When I mirrored your tone, you decided to get pissy about it, and ask for proof of my assertion, which mirrored your assertion. I'll be happy to marshal support for my assertion of fact if you wish to do the same for yours.

It is always a wonder when people are so lacking in self awareness that they cannot realize that what bothers them about another's use of rhetoric was simply mirroring their own.

by Bobman :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:15pm

Karl, Clearly you just don't get it. It's all about tradition--neighbors, friends, rivalries. Where would Western Civ be without the traditional Berkeley-Texas A&M game?

Speaking of tradition and great rivalries, I want to know which super-conference will try to acquire the Ivy League... or maybe they want to split it up. Those "western" Ivy schools like Penn and Cornell and Princeton to the Pac-18 and the eastern Ivies to the Big-22.

Either Harvard or Brown, as the Ivy closest to actual salt water, goes ACC.

Let the TV dollars roll in, baby.

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:24pm

I hope no one ever tries to break up the Ivy League. It's quite possibly the only conference that doesn't care about money. Well, not that they don't care, it's just that they already have neverending supplies of money, freeing them up to actually care about rivalries, and, god forbid, academics.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:43pm

"Where would Western Civ be without the traditional Berkeley-Texas A&M game?"


by Bobman :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:24pm

I stand corrected.

by tornadot :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:50pm

And there goes Colorado...

by Dean :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 2:54pm

The Omaha World Herald and Kansas City Star are both now reporting this is a done deal. Nebraska is Big Ten Bound.