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Utah to Join Pac-10 in 2011

Remember that big post about the MWC and its BCS bid I wrote up yesterday. Boy, am I glad I spent the time on that one. Utah officially accepted its Pac-10 bid and will join the conference in 2011 according to this PDF from the university. That means the MWC has zero chance of taking advantage of the timing technicality in trying to get its automatic bid. It still lists Colorado as joining the conference in 2012, a year after Utah, Boise State, and Nebraska settle into their new homes. I guess that makes the Buffs the Boston College of this round of realignment.

Florida State Wanted in the SEC

According to some at ESPN, Florida State was preparing to lobby for SEC admittance if Texas A&M came aboard. Chris Low puts it here in the linked-to blog post, and Ivan Maisel repeated it on this week's ESPN college football podcast. Interesting that, 20 years after the SEC offered and FSU said no, FSU was prepared to be the one coming to the SEC and asking in. Maisel said that Florida was going to try to block an FSU entry into the SEC, which matches what everyone had assumed about that prospect. I'm just glad we never got that far.

Chip Brown's "Big 12 Missile Crisis" Timeline

To put a cap on this conference expansion episode, Chip Brown has published a recap of the Big 12's tumultuous days from when Nebraska decided to go to the Big Ten until the Big 12 Lite was formalized. It's in a nice narrative form, little of it is speculation, and it provides a few more details than what was already out there. It includes the Pac-10 trying to change the deal at the last minute but leaves out Texas trying to change the deal at the last minute, but whatever. It's a good recap of everything if you missed it.

Texas Board of Regents is Meeting Tuesday

The University of Texas Board of Regents will meet Tuesday to for "discussion and appropriate action regarding athletic conference membership." In other words, June 15 may be the final day of the Big 12's existence as we know it.

Conference USA is Preparing a Raiding Party

Everyone is being tight-lipped in the expansion process. Everyone, that is, except for ECU AD Terry Holland. He's taken the unusual step of publishing all of his thoughts straight to you, the public. He says that CUSA is planning on raiding the leftovers if the Big 12 falls apart. He also appears to have contacts within the Big East, saying that it "has been in a bunker mentality, hoping to keep enough of its eight current members to remain a viable FBS (formerly Division I-A) Conference with automatic qualification for BCS bowl games." He then talks at length about the Big East's motivations and his thoughts on that, probably because a lot of ECU fans hope to get a Big East invitation if someone leaves. He even goes as far as to speculate on the future: "As for the rest of the expansion nationwide, I believe Texas will hold the Big 12 together. Texas and Oklahoma should be very happy to say "good riddance" to the conference championship game. Those two teams have a better chance for each to end up in BCS Bowls in a given season without the "double jeopardy" that a conference championship game creates for them. In fact, a nine-member Big Whatever should be their goal. If Texas holds the Big Whatever together, the Pac 10's "quick strike" will come back to haunt them because they are now committed to finding at least one more member who can add value to the Pac 10. Colorado's main value was as "bait" for Texas, Oklahoma, etc... in order to create real value for the Pac 10." Any other ADs out there willing to go this far on the record? Someone get me Mal Moore on the phone for his dissertation on the subject. Oh, and all hail the Big Whatever.

Miami's Off the List For Now [Update: VT too]

Miami (FL) AD Kirby Hocutt went on a Miami sports radio show yesterday to talk expansion. When asked about whether UM would consider switching conferences, his response was telling: "No. No. The Atlantic Coast Conference is our home, Jorge [the radio host], it makes all the sense in the world for us. We focus each and every day on hoisting that ACC championship and positioning us to compete for national championships. The ACC is our home and that's where we're going to be. We're excited about the future growth." Translation: The SEC hasn't talked to Miami about joining in any capacity. Towards the end he gets snippy about Florida, pointing out that the Gators would probably try to block Miami's entrance given that UF AD Jeremy Foley refuses to set up a consistent series with Miami. Foley has said several times that he prefers UF to have seven home games a year, which, thanks to the Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, makes holding two home-and-home non-conference series impossible. Personally, I'm fine with that. As I've said before, the idea of having Miami in the SEC is far better than the reality of it would be. ADDENDUM The Roanoke Times talked with Virginia Tech's athletics director, and it sure sounds like he hasn't talked with the SEC either.

Is Expansion Really Worth It?

CNBC's Darren Rovell talked to Barry Frank, an executive from IMG Media about whether conference expansion makes fiscal sense. IMG, you'll remember, is one of the companies that universities sign up with when negotiating their local media rights. Frank doesn't think the big windfall is really out there. He doesn't believe ESPN can pony up what the Pac-10 will ask for, and that Fox is its only hope. In addition, he doesn't believe Nebraska would be a net positive in the Big Ten or that Texas A&M would be a net positive in the SEC. Of course, this is just one media executive, and he might have reasons we don't know about for tossing cold water on the story. Plus, Rovell himself has been lukewarm on conference expansion all along, although he has also found a former CBS sports president who agrees with him. It is a valid question though - can Texas A&M and another team for balance really bring an extra $34 million a year?

Oklahoma Has Turned Down the SEC

The Chattanooga Times Free Press's Wes Rucker (a very reliable guy) says that Oklahoma's AD Joe Castiglione told the Tulsa World about the SEC talking with OU about inclusion. No word on whether an official offer was extended (I highly doubt it), but Oklahoma has decided to follow Texas wherever it goes. So you can forget about the Sooners joining the SEC. The only possible Big 12 entrant into the SEC at this point appears to be Texas A&M, who may or may not have pledged unity with Texas and Texas Tech already. Gene Stallings is on Texas A&M's board and has been pushing hard for an SEC move, something he apparently confirmed to a Phoenix-area sports radio show today. So while the Tulsa World doesn't have anything on its website about OU and the SEC yet, it does repeat a report from TMZ that Oklahoma State is as good as gone to the Pac-10. OSU would only comfirm that its president will issue a statement later today. UPDATE: 2:23 PM Here's the quote from Castiglione: While Castiglione also confirmed that the SEC has shown interest in the Sooners, OU's position is that it's going to stick with Texas wherever the Longhorns go because of the long history between the two schools. "I think it would be a horrendous decision for OU and Texas to break up," Castiglione said. "We're going to stick together if it's at all possible." UPDATE 2:32 PM The Oklahoman's sources inside Oklahoma State (who I would believe far more than I would TMZ) say that not only is OSU to the Pac-10 not a done deal, but that OSU hasn't even talked to the Pac-10 and won't until Nebraska-to-the-Big-Ten becomes official and public. They have only heard from Texas officials that they'd be a part of any movement the Longhorns make, which makes it sound like Texas isn't as innocent as Chip Brown has been making it out to be. Another strike against TMZ's source: it believes the ultimate end game of conference expansion down the road is a playoff. Right.

Colorado to Pac-10 is 1000% Official

Here you go, folks. It's the first officially confirmed domino to fall in the conference expansion game. The Pac-10 has put out a press release announcing Colorado's admittance into the fold. Colorado fans seem happy, overall.

Texas Legislature, Governor May Sit This Round Out

When the SWC dissolved and the Big 12 formed, the Texas State Legislature and governor's office had their fingerprints all over it. It's sounding a bit different this time. State representatives John Smithee and Joe Heflin, both Texas Tech grads, predict that the TSL won't get involved because the political climate has changed in the last 16 years. The governor's office also released a statement saying that, "Decisions about conferences should be made by the individual institutions." If Texas A&M was going to break away from Texas and Texas Tech to come to the SEC, this news is exactly the sort of thing we'd need to hear. Then again, these are politicians who are talking, so bear that in mind when listening to them. I still am not convinced that Texas and Texas A&M want to be split up, but if they did, they'd need a hands-off TSL to make it happen.

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