That big gush of wind you felt this morning coming out of the Midwest was the collective sigh of relief enjoyed by Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Missouri, and Iowa State.
Those schools just dodged the conference expansion bullet, as the University of Texas made their much-anticipated announcement this morning that they will be staying in the Big 12 Conference.
And some of that wind rush might also be the air that was being let out of the Pac-10’s big plans to expand its conference to 16 teams by pirating half the Big 12. Conference officials had big ideas for expanded exposure for its teams, new recruiting opportunities, increased revenue, and its own television network to rival the one the Big 10 started. Big dollar signs were dancing in a lot of heads.
Texas was the glue holding the Big 12 together. If the Longhorns had decided to become a part of the proposed mega-conference into which the Pac-10 would morph, then Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M would likely have followed.
The Longhorns kept the college sports world on hold through the weekend by announcing Friday that it would not make a decision until the school’s regents met today.
“We believe this decision is in the best interests of our student-athletes, coaches, and university constituencies” said UT President William Powers Jr. after this morning’s meeting. “We are pleased to continue the traditions we have developed with our partners in the Big 12. We are in this 10-team conference for the long-term.”
Those traditions have been developed over the past 16 years. In 1993, Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M accepted an invitation to join with the Big Eight schools to form the Big 12. The conference was founded the next year.
Texas Tech had also scheduled a meeting later today in which its regents would discuss the Pac-10 opportunity. There should be far less pressure on the Texas Tech folks now, since they were just waiting for their neighbors in Austin to make their move.
And we also have a new Man of the Hour in the college sports world. All the attention lately has been focused on the amazing sleight-of-hand that the new Pac-10 commissioner, Larry Scott, seemed about to pull off. But Big 12 commish, Dan Beebe, needs to get his props for the tireless effort he has expended trying to hold together his conference.
He did lose two schools. Nebraska has accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten and Colorado is moving into the Pac-10.
But there don’t appear to be any plans to replace those teams. From what Texas football coach Mack Brown said in an interview on ESPN this morning, the Big 12 may just go on as the Big 12-minus 2. At least for the time being. Hey, with just 10 teams, they each get a bigger piece of the revenue pie.
So now the Big 10 has 12 teams, the Big 12 has 10 teams, and the Pac-10 has eleven teams.
Everybody got that? Well, don’t get too comfortable with it because it’s not likely we’re done yet with this expansion thing.