Expansion talk has fueled some juicy rumors over the last couple of weeks. The first bomb dropped came out of a sports radio station in Kansas City stating that Missouri and Nebraska were being offered membership in the Big Ten. That one was shot down about as quickly as it surfaced by the administration at both schools and the big Ten. It still has plenty of legs because both schools are very interested in the Big Ten and would be good fits.
The second one came last week when a Texas Longhorn affiliated Rivals website leaked or speculated that the Pac 10 was going to offer membership to six Big 12 schools over the weekend. That one was initially shot down by Pac 10 Commissioner Larry Scott who said that no announcement was coming this weekend concerning expansion. He also reaffirmed that the Pac 10 isn't going to do anything before the end of the year if they choose to go in that direction.
The third one came on Friday when the Columbus Dispatch leaked an email under the freedom of information act that Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany and Ohio State President Gordon Gee had initiated discussions with Texas President Bill Powers concerning something they referred to as the "Tech" problem. Texas isn't going anywhere if it ends up stranding Texas A&M and Texas Tech. So perhaps the Big Ten is trying to work on a solution to the "Tech" problem behind the scenes.
Obviously Texas is one of two hot buttons in any discussion that concerns expansion. The Longhorns can call their own shots. There has even been a rumor floating around that they could go independent and put together their own TV network similar to Notre Dame which is probably a bluff. The days of going independent are coming to an abrupt end.
The apple in the Big Ten's eye is Notre Dame and one way to get Notre Dame is to destroy what is left of the Big East. They aren't going to be able to do that if they have to take all three schools from Texas. So the chess game is about to begin and everybody is waiting to see who makes the first move and most bets were on the Big Ten to do that.
The Pac 10 has been working on something behind the scenes even though they have been officially saying that they are just studying the opportunities out there. Last week a high ranking representative from California let it be known to a Cal alumni group on the East coast that the conference is on the verge of doing something revolutionary.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott laid out a host of expansion scenarios to athletic directors last Friday. They range from a full merger with the Big 12; to merging with six current Big 12 schools, including Texas; to adding Colorado and Utah; to the status quo.
Picking up six teams including Texas from the Big 12 would fit the bill of being revolutionary. The Pac 10 doesn't have a "Tech" problem. They however could end up with a "Baylor" problem which would cut the lucrative Colorado market out of the picture.
A source said that there is a block of 15 legislators working to make sure that Baylor, not Colorado, is invited to join the Pac-10. The source pointed to the political and economic importance of keeping the Big 12's Texas schools together as well as Colorado's recent athletic struggles and lack of sports such as baseball, softball and men's tennis.
If you are Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor you better hope that the big 12 stays intact or there is a full merger with the Pac 10 forming a twenty team super conference made up of two ten team divisions. If not all could be headed for non BCS conferences.
The Big 12 reacting to all this by playing hardball with Nebraska, Colorado,and Missouri. Supposedly all three schools have been given until 5:00 pm next Friday to declare whether they intend to stay in the Big 12 or pursue membership in other conferences.
In Dan Beebe's perfect world, Nebraska and Missouri would have pledged unqualified commitments to the Big 12 weeks ago. It would have pulled together a conference some feel is being torn apart by the initiative of the Big Ten and Pac-10, who have made rumored overtures to teams within Beebe's conference.
Friday's news conference, concluding the week's testy meetings between the Big 12's athletic directors and university heads, settled little more than one fact.
This is not Beebe's perfect world.
The current stances of the three schools carry some significant risk because the Big Ten hasn't formally offered membership to Nebraska and Missouri. Colorado could also be left in limbo if the Pac Ten is forced to take Baylor. The Big Ten is completely focused on Notre Dame at the moment and they could end up adding only one team if they can bring in the Irish.
If Nebraska and Missouri pursue a spots in the Big Ten, multiple sources said, the Pac-10 expansion will move forward and the Big 12 will crumble. The Pac-10, which is fifth among the six BCS conferences in TV revenue, apparently has research showing that it could go from about $55 million annually to about $240 million as the Pac-16.
Is the Pac-10 Conference prepared to beat the Big Ten to the expansion punch?
"Our announcement in December has caused institutions to consider their future and conferences to consider their future," said Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon, the chair of the Big Ten’s council of presidents/chancellors. "That has had an impact on our deliberations. … We had targeted a time line that was as long as 18 months. It’s possible that the time line may be altered, but not the process.
"The actions of others are obviously important to us and they impact us, but the process is as we’ve outlined it." Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany added: "There's also been a lot of activity in the last two weeks, as reported in a lot of media outlets. We don't know how that will all play out, but it could affect how we do things."
That could be the case after a press conference was called on Sunday at the end of the annual Pac 10 meetings when Scott announced to the media that he had been given the approval to pursue all options concerning expansion which means all ten schools are on board and he doesn't have to go back for approval. Obviously the Pac 10 knows what they want to going forward.
"We probably have contemplated or are contemplating almost everything you've read about," Scott said. "The Pac-10 is in a very fortunate position. We have tremendous prospects exactly as we are. We also have some potentially exciting opportunities regarding expanding the footprint of the conference."
"What direction that process takes still could go in different directions," Scott said. "Everything from remaining as we are as a Pac-10 that has some very bright days ahead of it, to a bigger conference foot print. I have the authority to take it different directions depending on various scenarios and discussions we will have."
"I know there's some anxiety being created there," Scott said.
Tough Week For Washington
Last week was one tough week to be a Husky as the Golf, Softball, and Crew programs all fell short of their goals of becoming national champions. Even though the final goal evaded them this season all three programs will kept us on the edge of our seats to the very end by giving their very best.
On a sad note John Wooden passed away on Friday and the Bruin Nation Blog honored him by going to black and white after his passing. Wooden will be missed but he left a legacy teaching that will influence coaches for centuries. Coach Wooden never made more than $35,000 a year, including 1975, the year he won his 10th national championship, and never once asked for a raise.
Former UW coach Marv Harshman holds the distinction of being the last coach to beat Wooden in a 103-81 victory at Hec Ed over UCLA on Feb. 22, 1975.
"I've always said that giving Wooden his last loss was maybe my greatest win," Harshman said. "I think I'm the only one to beat him the first time I coached against him and the last. But I always add, 'We don't talk about what happened in between.' "
Oregon Athletic Complex Expansion
Oregon continues to build athletic facilities and some citizens and legislators in State are starting to question the way that the school is doing it. Phil Knight does things his way and anyone in the way better watch out. How much control does the University actually have over their own athletic department?
Nike co-founder Phil Knight plans to build an 80,000-square-foot expansion to the Len Casanova Athletic Center for football use. This new expansion would include space for a UO Football Hall of Fame and Museum, a covered parking facility for 300 cars, surface parking for 75 cars, a weight room of at least 20,000 square feet and space for a Duck Shop and ticket offices. In addition, the project would include construction of a new soccer and lacrosse complex after the existing one is moved.