Nebraska heading to the Big Ten – are four more Big 12 teams on the move?

The downfall of the Big 12 is about to be underway, as ESPN.com is reporting that Nebraska has officially accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten.

Nebraska departs the Big 12 to become the 12th member of the Big Ten. Earlier this week, a source told ESPN.com that no other schools are imminent to accompany the Cornhuskers into the Big Ten.

The future of the Big 12 is in jeopardy after Colorado agreed Thursday to jump to the Pac-10. The Pac-10 is also reportedly interested in inviting Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to form a 16-team league.

University of Texas regents will meet next week to decide whether the Longhorns will remain in the Big 12 or switch to another conference.

The regents announced Friday that they will hold a meeting by telephone Tuesday for “discussion and appropriate action regarding athletic conference membership.”

Rumor had it that if Nebraska left the Big 12, then the rest of the conference would dissolve. It appears as though the Pac-10 is on its way to being a 16-team conference, although as I wrote yesterday, that doesn’t mean that it’ll implement a championship game. (Which is just a ridiculous notion when you think about it.)

Joining the Big Ten makes a lot of sense for Nebraska, most notably from a revenue standpoint. Big Ten schools bring in $22 million each year thanks in large part to the Big Ten Network, which can now extend its reach once Nebraska comes aboard. The Huskers now have more security in the Big Ten than they did in the Big 12, which was apparently held together by cheese and crackers.

Nebraska and Michigan will finally get to settle the 1997 debate. Too bad nothing will be left of the UM program after Rich Rodriguez gets done burning everything in Ann Arbor to the ground.

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Even with expansion, Pac-10 could eliminate the need for a title game

Expansion talk in the Pac-10 continues to heat up, as ESPN.com reports that Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the conference. Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech should receive invites as well, while Nebraska is likely heading to the Big Ten.

Despite adding more teams, the Pac-10 could eliminate the need for a conference championship game by pushing for two automatic bids to the BCS.

The coach said it’s possible the Pac-16 would push for two automatic bids to the BCS, one for each division champion. That potential bonanza could open the possibility of the two division champs from one league playing for the national title, and it would eliminate the need for a conference championship game.

“The Pac-10 doesn’t believe in a championship game,” the coach said. “And coaches in the Big 12 don’t like it anyway.”

Does anyone else think that it’s ridiculous to have 16 teams play in one conference but no championship game? It’s amazing how these schools manage to eliminate playoff-like games at all costs, even though that’s the structure that most fans want.

Fans want to see the best teams play each other, whether it’s in a conference title game or a playoff format in the postseason. But clearly the BCS and the schools themselves don’t want to breed head-to-head competition. They’re fine with crowning a champion based on record and moving on. As long as they can increase revenue, then who cares about the fans, right? I would be shocked if the Big Ten didn’t try to follow in the footsteps of the Pac-10 and figure out a way to avoid a conference championship game themselves.

Another interesting takeaway from the article is that expansion might not happen for another two years. So even though Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma would be joining other conferences in 2012, they’d still play in the Big 12 for the next two seasons. How awkward.


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Nebraska leaning towards joining the Big Ten?

As long as the conference doesn’t leave them hanging without an invitation, it appears that Nebraska could be heading to the Big Ten.

From ESPN.com:

The source said the school is leaning toward the Big Ten, but an invitation hadn’t yet been extended, and there was no indication when that would occur. The consensus within the athletic department is that Nebraska wouldn’t separate itself from the Big 12 without some assurance that a Big Ten invitation would come, the source said. The Big Ten has set no date for any announcement in the coming weeks, leaving open the possibility that Nebraska could be left in limbo.

Adding another school would allow the Big Ten to implement a championship game and expand its cable television network. Adding a title game would be exciting for fans of the conference, especially considering the Big Ten usually doesn’t play past the last weekend in November. When other conferences are still getting exposure in December thanks to their title games, the Big Ten is sitting with its thumb up its ass waiting for bowl season to start. It makes sense for them to expand.

That said, would Nebraska be a good fit? Yeah, probably. From their point of view, they get security (as everyone can see, the Big 12 is ready to fall apart at any moment, where as the Big Ten will stay intact long-term) and added revenue (Big Ten schools bring in $22 million each year thanks in large part to the Big Ten Network). A Nebraska-Iowa rivalry is also intriguing and the Huskers would no doubt bring competition to a conference that sorely lacks it.

We’ll find out by the end of the week whether or not Nebraska is Big Ten bound or will stay in the Big 12. But as of Wednesday morning, it appears that Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan are going to get some new company.

Pac-10 expansion coming soon?

The Pac-10 is now one step closer to expanding and possibly devouring the Big 12, as commissioner Larry Scott announced on the final day of the conference meetings on Sunday that university presidents and chancellors have given him the authority he needs to expand the Pac-10.

From ESPN.com:

“What direction that process takes still could go in different directions, everything from remaining as we are as a Pac-10 that’s got some very bright days ahead of it to a bigger conference footprint,” Scott said. “I have the authority to take it in different directions, depending on various scenarios and discussions we’re going to have.”

Scott wouldn’t give any timeframe for expansion talks — other than to reiterate that the deadline is the end of this year — or discuss specific schools. However, it sounds as if he will aggressively court some of the biggest names in college sports, including Texas. The Big 12 is in danger of collapsing and could provide the Pac-10 with six new teams or more.

The Big 12 reportedly gave Missouri and Nebraska an ultimatum of Friday to decide if they will remain in the Big 12. If those schools leave, the Pac-10 could be strategically situated to gobble up Big 12 teams looking for bigger opportunities, including Texas. The most widely discussed scenario has Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado joining the Pac-10. There was some indication Sunday that Baylor could replace Colorado under pressure from the Texas Legislature.

If the Big 12 largely stays intact but is under the umbrella of the Pac-10, then expansion wouldn’t be a bad thing. Because then you keep some of the key rivalries (Texas vs. Oklahoma, Texas vs. Texas A&M, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State) in place, but introduce a broader spectrum of games (i.e. Texas vs. USC). True Big 12 fans will lose out on seeing Nebraska and Missouri play Texas and Oklahoma every year, but at least the majority of the conference wouldn’t be dismantled. (Much like if Texas goes to the SEC or Pac-10, while Texas A&M and whomever else heads to the SEC, which has already been discussed.)

That said, if the Big 12 falls apart and most of these programs split up, then it’s hard to argue for expansion. I discussed this topic more last week, but the words “rivalries” and “tradition” will mean nothing if teams like Texas and Texas A&M head to different conferences. College football was built on rivalries and tradition and I think school presidents and athletic directors should strive to keep that in mind.


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Nebraska dominates Arizona in Holiday Bowl

When I woke up this morning and read the headline: “Suh, Nebraska stop Arizona in Holiday Bowl,” I couldn’t help but chuckle a little.

Stop? Stop doesn’t even begin to describe what the Cornhuskers did to the Wildcats on Wednesday night. Stop is something you do when you’ve had too much to eat. Completely shutting someone down to the point of feeling sorry for them is what Nebraska accomplished against Arizona in their 33-0 Holiday Bowl victory. The game was over for Arizona after the coin flip.

The Cornhuskers held the Wildcats to 109 total yards of offense and only 46 passing yards. They also limited Arizona to 3-of-15 on third down conversions, picked off Nick Foles on the third play of the game and held the Wildcats to a messily 63 rushing yards. It was by far the most impressive performance any team this bowl season.

I was a little worried that AP College Football Player of the Year and Heisman finalist Ndamukong Suh was going to come up short in the expectations that were bestowed upon him coming into the game, but he lived up to the hype. He only had three tackles (one for loss), but he was all over the field and exhibited outstanding size and strength.

The Cornhuskers have a bright future under Bo Pelini and even though Suh is on his way out, Nebraska’s defense is loaded with playmakers. Their offense is still a concern (although they looked good last night), but Pelini feels as though his defense matches that of Alabama and Florida. And after their performance last night, it’s hard to argue with him. I realize they weren’t playing an offensive juggernaut in Arizona, but limiting any team to 109 total yards is unbelievably impressive.

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