Expansion rumors are both fun during the off season as well as exhausting in trying to keep up with all the angles and rumors that are flying around. The latest is Texas to the Big 10. Whaaat! According to the Lawrence Journal-World this is more then the speculative rumor that had Nevada, Boise State, and Fresno State to the Mountain West:
A source with ties to the Big Ten said that while most people's attention has been trained on the conference stealing Missouri, the Big Ten has engaged in "preliminary exchanges" with a much bigger fish from the Big 12.
"There have been preliminary exchanges between the Big Ten and Texas," the source told the Journal-World on Wednesday. "People will deny that, but it's accurate."
Again with a source but the line there have been preliminary exchanges between the Big Ten and Texas is quite intriguing and not too far fetched that Texas would jump to the Big 10. When the old SWC broke up Texas was close to joining the Pac-10. Today's landscape is different with billions of dollars on the line in television deals. This makes sense to the Big 10 and especially the Big 10 Network to land the most coveted school in the land -- yes more coveted then Notre Dame -- and all the eyeballs in Texas.
The money is a key issue to say Texas would say no because the Big 10 splits television money equally while the Big XII does not and in the 2007-2008 year Texas was first in the country in total revenue at $120,288,370. Even with the shared tv money and a bump in revenue from more people watching the Big 10 Network, Texas may not jump.
Travel could be a concern but with those things called airplanes Texas can get to any Big 10 city within a three hour flight and that is not much different then traveling to Nebraska, Kansas, or Missouri. Texas meets the academic standards and is the flagship university of the state. Two things of this could be that the Big 10 is looking for a single team or trying to get Texas first and then either Texas A&M or other Big XII school to form a 14 or 16 team super conference.
Now onto how this move could mean the end of the Mountain West as we know it.
To make this simple lets just assume Texas goes to the Big 10, then Colorado and Utah go to the Pac-10. The Mountain West would be left with eight teams and the Big XII down to ten. The Big XII would then take TCU to replace Texas plus this would reunite the Horned Frogs with some of their former SWC brethren. Then BYU would be plucked up also by the Big XII to replace Colorado and would be a good fit since they were in the running over a decade ago when the Big Eight was going to the Big XII.
Left in the Mountain West would be six teams -- one less to be FBS eligible -- with Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Wyoming, and UNLV. The easiest step would be to have the WAC and decimated Mountain West merge to form a 15 team league. However, this would be similar to the 16 team WAC that failed in the early 90's, and would WAC commissioner Karl Benson welcome these teams back after they bolted. Also, what would happen with the Mountain West Sports Network, because the MWC would have only six teams and would not be in an position to have the nine WAC members join their league. That television venture may fold, or CBS College Sports and the Mtn may try to just switch to a WAC network (this would be messy).
The new WAC/MWC would be 15 teams and not good for scheduling in any sports with the only upside is that they could have a title game. A solution to get the league to 14 teams would be to boot Louisiana Tech to the Sun Belt which would be a better fit at least travel wise, but they would not like that at all.
Texas could be the start of it all for the Mountain West to be non-existent or very weak while leaving the MWC and the WAC scrambling for members.