Pac-16 looks like done deal after Nebraska opts for Big Ten
Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado expected to join Pac-10
Seattle Times colleges reporter
The story has spread like a Southland wildfire with a Santa Ana wind behind it. The Pac-10 Conference, a familiar round number of programs intact for the past 32 years, appears about to grow by 60 percent.
Nebraska, according to several media reports Thursday, is shortly due to hook up with the Big Ten, miffed at Texas' sway in the Big 12. And that will very likely flood the Pac-10 with half the Big 12 — Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado.
So you're wondering: Where's a good place to eat in Lubbock, Texas?
You might also have wondered what it's been like this week in the Pac-10 offices in Walnut Creek, Calif., a place detractors have long panned as stodgy, stuck in the 1960s, short on both TV revenue and imagination.
"There's been a lot of closed doors," said one staffer there.
The Los Angeles Times reported that a deal is "locked and loaded" for the Pac-10 to issue invitations to the six from the Southwest, and when that happens, it's usually a given that enough groundwork has been laid to project acceptance. The newspaper said the move would become effective with the football season of 2012.
The ironies are massive. First, there's Larry Scott, the Pac-10 commissioner who came over only 11 months ago from a CEO post with the Women's Tennis Assn. When he was introduced to a handful of press guys before Pac-10 football media day last July, I'd say there was a healthy degree of skepticism; he said he hadn't attended a big-time college football game in more than a decade.
Suddenly, Scott looks like a kingmaker, having snatched at least temporarily the spotlight from Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. It was Delany who first broached the possibility of conference expansion in a statement last December, and he has been portrayed as having such a strong hand that it was off-putting to more than one college administrator.
Today, not so much. There were two big trophies in this hunt, and they were Notre Dame and Texas. Now Scott looks poised to pick off one of them, and it's still a major question mark whether Delany can convince Notre Dame that enough of a collegiate nuclear morning is nigh that it ought to break its tradition of football independence and join the Big Ten.
It's widely believed that Notre Dame, if it's going to affiliate at all, would have preferred to be part of a 12-team Big Ten — the fewer sharing the booty, the better. Now, with Nebraska apparently about to plunge, that prospect is out, and Delany would have to convince the Irish this is about to be such a wacko new world that it needs to come aboard.
He may yet do that. Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick has said a breakup scenario that caves in the Big East — where the Irish play everything but football — could force them into a conference.
It's also ironic that Nebraska — with 1.8 million people in the state, and a program that has managed never to win a men's NCAA-tournament basketball game — would be setting off the shifting of tectonic plates. But the Huskers once went 33 years never winning less than nine football games, and this is all about football and the $20 million to $22 million the Big Ten Network reaps per program.
Nebraska began to chafe when Texas spearheaded a move in the Big 12 to eliminate academic partial qualifiers. The Longhorns hogged much of the TV profits, and the football-championship game is out of Kansas City and committed to Jerry Jones' new palace in Arlington, Texas.
If you're Washington or Washington State, you're probably looking at a division that includes USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Oregon and Oregon State.
You might recognize that as the old Pac-8. Today, that's the only shred of retro evidence to be found in the conference.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
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