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The Plains States and the Pac 10

This is the final article for now in a series about probable Pac 10 expansion in the near future.

If the Big Ten grabs Missouri, Texas, Texas A&M and the Pac 10 snaps up Colorado it would signal the end of the Big 12 as a credible player in the BCS. The Big 12 could add schools such as BYU, TCU, even a Boise State and New Mexico to the mix to help fill the gap but the impact of losing the two top schools in Texas will be almost impossible to recover from in a world that counts TV sets to establish market share.

That is why Nebraska AD Tom Osborne said his school would be willing to listen to the Big Ten if they were interested in talking. Osborne has a very good idea of where this all could be going and expressing public interest in the Big Ten right now is a very smart thing to do if you are a Midwest school.

Nebraska is a great fit for the Big Ten. They have the academics, the history, the facilities, and a rabid fan base. They have everything that Texas has to offer except a huge TV market. Omaha ranks just below Spokane as the #76 TV market in the country. Who do you pick if you are the Big 10? Missouri, Nebraska, or the Texas schools? When you look at it from strictly a market perspective Nebraska is the odd man out in the equation.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have a lot of athletic prestige but academically they are not traditional Big Ten/Pac Ten material. They do seem to fit the community college with a huge athletic complex mentality of the SEC pretty well. Oklahoma City ranks as the #45 TV market in the country and Tulsa chimes in at #61. Oklahoma also pulls in TV sets from neighboring Texas.

The problem for the Oklahoma schools is the SEC may not be interested in expanding right away even if the Big Ten grows to 16 teams. Long term TV contracts are already in place for the SEC so adding more members at this point has the potential to shrink the pie for the existing 12 members rather than add to it and we all know that is not how the game is usually played. The SEC won't be interested in expanding unless it creates more money immediately and is the Oklahoma TV market really that important without a Texas to go along with it in the mix?

Texas should be an SEC target but the school would much rather take the academic high road of joining the Big Ten or Pac 10. Another factor of course is the cuttthroat competition of the SEC. There are simply less big fish to contend with in the Big 10 and Pac 10. However if Texas decided it was interested in the SEC the powers that be would take that phone call.

Texas Tech is the poor step child of the Texas schools. Being cut off from Texas and Texas A&M relegates them to MWC type status if the Big 12 does not survive. Baylor is in the same boat. Baylor's location 90 minutes South of Dallas and fine academic standing might put them in a better position than Tech even though they have never been a sports powerhouse.

Kansas has been a basketball power ever since the first orb was tossed at a cut out peach basket. The football program while well supported has been historically mediocre. Kansas State has had some good years in the recent future but historically they have also struggled on the grid iron but like Kansas they fill the stadium. The Kansas schools are located close to the Kansas City TV market which rates #31 in the country and Wichita which rates #69.

Iowa State is a school with and excellent academic reputation that has also historically struggled athletically. Located in Ames, Iowa which is close to Des Moines they bring in a TV market which is ranked #71 in the country which is shared by Iowa.

Lets take a a quick look at what the Big 12 would look like after the Big Ten and Pac Ten are done feeding. You would still have a BCS conference but it would have the smallest TV market share of all the BCS conferences. I think the conference survives in a similar format to what I suggest below but once the Oklahoma schools leave...and it will be sooner than later....the remaining confederation will begin to fall apart.

Revamped Big 12

Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, (Brigham Young), (Boise State)

Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Baylor, (Texas Christian), (New Mexico)

How does the Pac 10 fit into all this?

Well if they are interested in expanding beyond 12 teams in the future the only place to head is East of the Continental Divide. Colorado and Nebraska are natural rivals and while the Cornhuskers would prefer and be a better fit geographically with the Big Ten if they are the odd man out they would have no place to turn other than the Pac 10 or stick with a revamped Big 12. While Omaha/Lincoln is not a great TV market the school does have a lot of prestige and attracts a national following.

In the 1990's when the Pac 10 first considered expanding one of the schools they took a very close look at was Missouri. Kansas is not Missouri but its proximity to Colorado and Nebraska could make them a fit if they are left out in the cold.

I tend to think that Missouri is a shoe in for the Big Ten in almost every single scenario but If the Tigers somehow got left out of the Big Ten expansion push by the addition of the four Texas schools the Pac 10 would be very interested. The Tigers would bring the St Louis TV market which is ranked # 21 and Kansas City which is ranked at # 31. That would equate to basically the same amount of TV's as Denver and Salt Lake combined.

Pac 10 on The Prairie Model

Washington, Washington St, Oregon, Oregon St, California, Stanford, USC, UCLA

Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri (or Iowa St)