Boise State-us Quo, Baylor, And The Ultimatum: The Expansion Latest

Posted by jstevrtc on June 7th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

On the heels of recent rumors regarding the Pac-10’s plans to invite six Big 12 schools to leave their current home for a new superconference, the Big 12 is looking for assurances that all of its current members are committed to the conference. At the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City this week, nine of the 12 schools gave their commitment to the Big 12, but the three schools with the likeliest chances of invites elsewhere – Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska – declined to do so. As a result, the remaining Big 12 schools have issued an ultimatum to all three schools, mostly focused on Nebraska, to either commit fully to continued membership in the Big 12 or else be ready to watch it dissolve. While there is no reason that any commitment these schools give to the Big 12 would be in any way binding and there is no “or else” necessarily specified, reading between the lines it looks like if the six schools tied to the Pac-10 rumors do not get assurances from Nebraska that they will remain Big 12 members, those six schools will pursue their opportunities with the new Pac-10 superconference.  So, while the Big 12 feels that can withstand the loss of Missouri and that Colorado isn’t going anywhere without other members of the conference, if Nebraska is not ready to commit to the rest of the conference and foreswear possible Big Ten membership, the invited six are ready to join up with the Pac-10.

In a related story, there is also news that the Texas state legislature is at it again, mixing it up in inter-collegiate sports in an attempt to save Baylor from being left behind. is reporting that there is a group of Texas lawmakers trying to make a push to force the Big 12 to take Baylor instead of Colorado, by doing something like not allowing Texas to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 if Baylor is not invited as well.  Also, it seems that rather than deal with a big legal and political hassle, the Pac-10 would be willing to substitute Baylor for Colorado, despite the desire for the lucrative Denver television market. This, of course, has happened before with Baylor. When the Southwest Conference broke up in the mid 90s, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor were offered invitations to join the Big 8 schools, creating the Big 12. It was then-Texas-governor Ann Richards, a Baylor alum, who insisted that Baylor be included in any plan with Texas state universities joining the Big 8 schools. This time around, it may be new Baylor president Ken Starr (yes, THAT Ken Starr) who is leading the charge to keep Baylor tied to the hips of the other Big 12 Texas schools.

As far as the Pac-10, they granted commissioner Larry Scott the power to proceed with expansion plans, effectively handing a pen and some invitations to Scott to let him fill out and send. There are really three possible scenarios for the Pac-10 at this point: no expansion, add six Big 12 schools, or — the scenario that was first talked about — adding Colorado and Utah. That last option might be fading fast at this point, with the other two perhaps equally likely. Whatever happens, the Pac-10 would like to move quickly, settle expansion issues once and for all by the end of the year if not in the next month, and have the lineup of the conference (whatever that may be) ready for play by 2012-13.  Settling plans for expansion by the end of this year would give the conference plenty of time to either plan its new cable network or negotiate a new television contract for itself.

The first bit of the oncoming shakeup was supposedly to go down on Monday, if the Mountain West Conference had invited Boise State to join. BSU has been angling for MWC membership for several years now, and if an invitation is extended, it is expected that they will trip over themselves on the way to signing up. However, with the report on the possible breakup of the Big 12, both sides are a bit nervous about what could come next. While six teams leaving the Big 12 would cripple it and leave it without an automatic NCAA tournament berth and without an automatic qualifier into the BCS, there would be no real reason for the Big 12 to exist anymore.  With the possibility, however, that schools like Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska could possibly tempt current MWC members like BYU and Utah to take a step up, both the MWC and Boise State are choosing their steps a bit more carefully. Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman tweeted on Sunday night that after he talked to MWC commissioner Craig Thompson, he did not expect Boise State to be invited on Monday as both sides consider their options.  Murphy then confirmed this on Monday afternoon.  An invitation could still be forthcoming soon — just not on Monday.

Calm down, boys. You're not going anywhere. Yet.

With the expansion watch heating up all over, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany made it clear that his 12-18 month timetable on which he has repeatedly insisted is being accelerated as we speak. Much like the Pac-10, we could have a definitive answer as to the future make-up of the Big Ten well before Labor Day. There is still the strong possibility that if Notre Dame agrees to join the Big Ten, all of this talk can stop.  The Big Ten goes to twelve teams, gets the big gun they wanted all along and shelves any plans to extend invitations to Missouri or any of the Big East teams. Missouri and Nebraska, with nowhere to go, recommit to the Big 12, the Pac-16 plans are scrapped, the Big East is saved, the SEC and all of its member institutions are just fine with their ESPN contract and counting their millions, and we can scrap all future columns on any possible conference shakeups.  Notre Dame would fit in just perfectly with the Big Ten, did it not still hold onto a grudge nearly a century old and its desire to remain independent. And now, Notre Dame could hold the fate of the face of the college sports landscape in its hands.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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3 responses to “Boise State-us Quo, Baylor, And The Ultimatum: The Expansion Latest”

  1. Andrew says:

    MWC commissioner Craig Thompson confirmed today that the issue of expansion is on hold for the MWC pending other dominoes elsewhere. I still expect Boise will wind up in the MWC in time for the 2011-12 season, but they may have some additional new members as well.

  2. jstevrtc says:

    Right. Which is really interesting, considering that the MWC is not exactly out of peril, itself. This passive stance surprises me, i.e. letting others determine their fate. Boise State could wind up in the MWC…and the MWC might not even be there soon after. This is intriguing stuff, to say the least. I just hope it doesn’t destroy our game.

    John Stevens

  3. Bruce says:

    If the Pac-10 takes Baylor over Colorado it would be unconscionable. Colorado is the school with the MOST in common with the existing schools and if the Pac-10 bows to the Texas legislature on this subject it sets a dangerous precedent for the future.

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