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Mountain West Conference Expansion Checkup: Recap of the Crazy Turn of Events

Boy... It's been a crazy week. If you remember back to my last Checkup, I put out a poll on whether or not the Pac-10 will expand, I think we all know the answer to that by now. I think most of us thought that Boise St. would receive an invite on Monday when the MWC Presidents met, that was put on hold. And then, it happened. The first domino fell. Just about all theories about expansion have gone awry, for all leagues. This post will put all the insane events in order.

Thursday, June 3rd, 1:24 P.M. - Let's start with the surprise that jumpstarted this all. On Thursday of last week, Chip Brown, a reporter for the Rivals site, reported that the Pac-10 was to expand the coming weekend and add Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado. This startled everyone, including myself, and we immediately began thinking to ourselves of what this meant for the Pac-10 and what this meant for the MWC. For the Pac-10, it would give them 7 of the top 20 TV Markets in the country:

Such a merger between the six Big 12 schools and the Pac-10 would build a conference with seven of the country's top 20 TV markets (Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Houston, Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento). And such a league would likely command attention from every cable system in the country and command a premium rate from every cable system west of the Mississippi.

This obviously makes the Pac-10 a cash cow conference, espicially since their TV Contracts are up for renegotiation after the 2011 football season. In this format, you essentially have two divisions, one with the members of the old Pac-8, and the other with the Big 12 schools and the former newcomers to the Pac-8 in Arizona and Arizona State. This satisfies the issue of getting a guaranteed game against USC every year except for the two Arizona schools, although the money that would come in from the gigantic TV Deal would be enough to compensate for that missed game against USC.

Now what did this mean for the MWC? Well, assuming that Nebraska and Missouri bolt to the Big 10 in the chaos, that leaves Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State behind. This gives the MWC more options, other than just expanding and adding Boise St. Now our options are, assuming that the Pac-10 adds six Big 12 schools and the Big 10 takes Nebraska and Missouri, stay at status quo, expand to 10 with Boise St., expand to 12 with choice of two other Big 12 schools along with Boise St., and expand to 16 with Boise St. and a vast array of candidates from other conferences. Along with giving more options for expanding, it increases the amount of candidates significantly, giving us more options in case one school doesn't want to come.

Now of course most of us bellieved this to be just another expansion rumor like the ones we've had in the past couple of weeks, but this one was from a reliable source in Chip Brown. Brown has covered Texas and the Big 12 for ten years and has rarely had incorrect information (a few times when he first began writing on Texas Athletics). So if it hadn't been Chip Brown, this would have just gone down as another rumor in the books much like the recent Big 10 expansion rumors.

Follow me after the jump for the rest of the timeline...

Thursday, June 3rd, 6:06 P.M. - So after that, the media became hyper active and started talking to everyone related to the Pac-10 expansion. The one person who has always coveted an invite to the Pac-10, Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn, started talking.

Bohn said CU has not had any contact with the Pac-10 or its representatives and he was not clear on how he came to believe invitations could be forthcoming. But he said Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could receive invitations possibly as soon as this weekend when Pac-10 officials meet in San Francisco.

"The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn said in an interview with the Camera as he left the Big 12 spring meetings here today.

But then Bohn covered his steps as fast as he could.

Bohn said at this point Colorado remains a committed and proud member of the Big 12 and he believes the conference has a bright future if its members remain together.

Seemed like he wanted the invitation, wanted to believe it, but didn't want to set off any alarms. Would make sense. Mike Bohn seemed to change the status of this whole shinnanigan from rumor, to developing story.


Thursday, June 3rd, 6:11 P.M. - Next is the Big 12's reaction. Once Dan Beebe got word of the rumor, he called a press conference at 5:00 P.M., then pushed it backed to 6:00 P.M., then just canceled it.

Then they straight up canceled the presser, issuing no comment and rescheduling for tomorrow. As one CycloneFanatic poster superbly put it, "Well the Big 12 is good at sitting and waiting to see what happens. Nothing new here."

Mirth aside, however, reports from Kansas City make it seem obvious that the Big XII isn't waiting, they're realizing that the end is here.

This made this seem to be a valid rumor. With the Big 12 now reacting in a negative way to the rumor, everyone realy started believing its true.


Friday, June 4th, 2:54 A.M. - After this, the Big 10 started talking expansion again, even after they had reassured everyone that the expansion was still 12-18 months down the road. Their main target this time? Texas. Texas had been talked about since the conference announced it was going to expand several months ago. Apparently OSU president E. Gordon Gee talked to Texas president William Powers about joining the Big 10.

"I did speak with Bill Powers at Texas, who would welcome a call to say they have a 'Tech' problem," Gee wrote in an e-mail that was among several obtained by The Dispatch through a public-records request for documents and correspondence related to Big Ten expansion proposals.

Texas Tech is one of Texas' rivals in the Big 12 conference. Ohio State officials declined a Dispatch request to explain the "Tech" problem.

"Public record laws do not require us to provide further clarification on meaning," OSU spokeswoman Amy Murray said in an e-mail. "While a few of the e-mails are cryptic, we aren't obliged to provide additional explanation."

It seemed that the Big 10 had resurfaced after all the expansion talk about the Pac-16 rose about, this time talking about snatching Texas away from the Pac-10. This brough up the possibility of Texas and Co. going to the Big 10 and leaving the rest of the Big 12 behind, instead of going to the Pac-10 and having the Big 10 take Nebraska and Missouri.


Friday, June 4th, 8:22 A.M. - So... Now it seems that the rumor of the six Big 12 schools going to the Pac-10 has some validity, right? Well, here's some more. A day after the remarks by Colorado AD Mike Bohn, Washington AD Scott Woodward said there was a lot of speculation from the Pac-10's end of the spectrum.

There is an enormous amount of speculation about conference expansion right now and I think with the Pac-10 that anything is possible, all the way from remaining with the status quo, where we are today, to a full merger with the Big 12 and anything in between. All possibilities are viable and open for discussion.

This opened up a lot of options to Pac-10 Expansion that previously hadn't been explored. The idea of a full merger perplexed many of us, trying to think of why that would happen. This really showed that the Pac-10 was considering the rumor reported by Chip Brown.


Saturday, June 5th, 7:43 - A little further down the line, we start to see the Texas Legislature get involved. Once again, they start pushing for Baylor to go with the rest of the Texas schools, replacing Colorado.

"If you're going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we're going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don't think so. We're already at work on this," said a high-ranking member of the Texas Legislature who asked not to be identified.

"If the Pac-10 wants Texas, and we know they do, they may have to take all of our Texas schools," the source said, adding that Texas Tech has also benefited from political inclusion on the invite list.

Here is what Don Hale, Texas' vice president of public affairs, had to say about the Texas Legislature applying pressure for the Texas schools to stay together.

"I think it's a political issue," he said yesterday. "Because they're state institutions, I think the concern is that one can't move without the others."

If you don't remember what happened last time Texas and A&M tried to leave the conference, here is what happend in short. Arkansas left the Southwest Conference for the SEC in 1990. After that, Texas and Texas A&M began talks with other conferences about joining them. They first went to the Big Ten, got turned down. Then the Pac-10, got turned down because Stanford was the loan no vote to bring in Texas. They then went to the Big 8 and were extended an invite. When the Texas Legislature got word of this, they told the Big 8 that if Texas and A&M were going, Texas Tech and Baylor would have to go along with them. The Big 8 conformed and so the Big 12 was born. The remaining four members of the SWC, TCU, SMU, Houston and Rice, began scrambling for options and settled for the Super WAC for a couple of years. Once that blew up, they all settled for C-USA which is where they are now except for TCU, who went to the MWC in 2005.

So all that said, the Texas Legislature appeared to start trying to do the same thing again. The Legislature is now pushing that the Pac-10 add Baylor instead of Colorado in order to "Keep the prestige of the Texas schools together..." (what?). With this happening, speculation began of the MWC adding Colorado if they are left behind.


Sunday, June 6th, 5:27 P.M. - Now we've had some time to digest this all, and what it means for their respective teams. At this time, the Pac-10 granted permission to commissioner Larry Scott to expand the conference. He stated that there were four options the Pac-10 could explore regarding expansion, the status quo, add Utah and Colorado, add the six Big 12 schools I mentioned earlier, and a full merger with the Big 12. Here is Scott's response when asked about the timetable of expansion.

Scott said it's possible the expansion announcement could come as early as July 27, the first day of the Pac-10 football media days in New York. The new schools wouldn't join the Pac-10 until the 2012-2013 school year, Scott said.

So pretty much this just made us think that the rumor stated a few days earlier was going to become true. Although the dates were misleading of what was to come.


Monday, June 7th, 8:36 A.M. - Another rumor arrives from Chip Brown is now reporting that the Pac-10 will invite six Big 12 schools during this week.

At this point we knew who 5 of the 6 schools were going to be, with the 6th still undecided between Baylor and Colorado. Most of us now knew that the Big 12 was hanging in the balance upon whether or not Nebraska jumps to the Big 10, because if Nebraska jumps ship, so does the Big 12 South.


Monday, June 7th, 4:49 P.M. - Baylor regent's e-mails show anxiety over Colorado getting an invite to the Pac-10. In a series of e-mails by alumni and supporters, this is evidenced. Here is what a supporter of the university had to say.

"My guess is that Colorado hasn't taken enough broadside hits to sink their boat yet and they may well be on the invite list," Jones said. "I hope I'm wrong. But there's still time left to change the scoreboard. We aren't through."

In a subsequent e-mail he wrote of the importance of legislative involvement.

"It is imperative that whatever happens the four Texas schools (and hopefully OU and OSU) agree to stick together," Jones wrote.

"United we stand. And the three public Universities you all are contacting understand the importance of an issue that touches 20 of their bosses in the Legislature."

Another e-mail from Jones urged the alums in the Legislature to call key officials at Texas, A&M and Tech. It provided talking points about why those schools should throw their weight behind Baylor instead of Colorado.

Now we know that the Texas Legislature is doing all that they can to try to force the Pac-10 to invite Baylor instead of Colorado. Most of us that are MWC fans are hoping that it is true because then we could snatch Colorado from the Big 12 leftovers.


Tuesday, June 8th, 4:37 P.M. - Colorado is preparing to have a meeting with the board of regents to discuss a move to the Pac-10. This seems to be some tangible evidence of the Pac-10 expansion rumors. Colorado at this time was expected to make a major announcement on Wednesday about expansion.

If the speculation is true, Colorado could be preparing to accept a bid from the Pac-10 Conference, which has targeted the Buffaloes for expansion.

The move would undercut an attempt by Baylor to sway the Texas Legislature into helping the Bears get an invite ahead of Colorado.

It would also guarantee that the Pac-10 probably pulls off at least one of its plans presented to league presidents and chancellors at meetings over the weekend in San Francisco.

Wow, it seems that those dates Larry Scott mentioned earlier definitely were off. Colorado is now talking about accepting an invite.


Tuesday, June 8th, 6:56 P.M. - Found out that the meetings weren't actually about accepting an invite to the Pac-10. Turns out they were just discussing legal options.


So... Colorado isn't going to the Pac-10? I'm confused.


Wednesday, June 9th, 3:31 P.M. - Chip Brown is now reporting the demise of the Big 12. He's been the one reporting just about everything on Pac-10 expansion and he now is predicting the death of the Big 12.


He also went on Sports Center on Wednesday evening and said that the original members that were reported earlier by (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado) were indeed the schools to be invited, not Baylor.

Now this means that apparently the Big 12 is practically destroyed by now if the Texas AD is telling us that they tried to save the Big 12 but couldn't do it. It looks as if the Pac-16 is imminent.


Wednesday, June 9th, 4:47 P.M. - Chip Brown goes on to say a little later that the expanded Pac-10 would begin play in 2012. If all of this happens, its going to be a very akward next couple of years for the Big 12.


So for the schools like Iowa State and Baylor, you will get 2 more years of Big 12 play, but that's all. It will be interesting to watch the final two years of the Big 12, knowing that the teams that weren't invited are doomed. Of course that is assuming that the Pac-10 invites the six Big 12 schools.


Wednesday, June 9th, 2:23 P.M. - Nebraska has apparently accepted an invitation to the Big 10. This was just a rumor at the time, but we'll actually find out if it's true today.

A source close to the Nebraska Board of Regents told the regents informally agreed Wednesday to move to the Big Ten and that a formal announcement Nebraska is leaving will come Friday.

This started all the dominoes falling...


Wednesday, June 9th, 8:43 P.M. - Now reports are coming in that Colorado has received an invitation from the Pac-10 and is planning to accept the invitation. Surprise, surprise... ESPN's Pat Forde sums it up the best.

"We appear headed for one of the most interesting and hectic days in college sports history tomorrow. Stay tuned." Forde said from his twitter account.

This simply told us that everything was to unfold on Thursday.


Thursday, June 10th, 6:22 A.M. - Texas and Texas A&M officials are meeting Thursday to try and save the Big 12. Didn't Texas just say that they tried to keep the Big 12 together, but it's dead?

Officials from Texas and Texas A&M will meet Thursday morning in Austin in a last-ditch effort to save the Big 12 Conference. The regents, presidents and athletic officials from the universities are scheduled to meet with the hope of figuring out how to keep the conference together now that the departures of Nebraska and Colorado appear imminent. […]

"I think there’s a strong, strong interest to ensure that the Big 12 exists, regardless of any kind of possible departures," [Big 12 Commissioner Dan] Beebe said.

He added that the conference would not rule out carrying on without a conference football title game; N.C.A.A. rules require 12 members for such a game.

"It would be one less obstacle to getting into the national championship," Beebe said. "I think television value would still be there. I’m not talking about any specific school that would be departing. It would still be an extremely strong conference and player in the national landscape."

I don't understand why Dan Beebe really thinks that the Big 12 will stay together regardless of losses. It will be tough for Texas and A&M to keep the conference together.


Thursday, June 10th, 9:00 A.M. - The next domino has fallen. And this time its Colorado. Reports are now coming in that the Buffaloes will accept a bid to join the Pac-10.

Colorado will accept a bid to become a member of the Pac-10, according to the Boulder Daily Camera (via Ralphie Report.) Colorado becomes the first team to officially leave the Big 12, and will announce the deal at an 11 a.m. press conference on Friday.

The move pre-empts any attempts by Texas legislators to oust the Buffaloes in favor of Baylor, a Big 12 school some politicians viewed as a package deal with the remainder of the Texas schools rumored to be part of a six-team move to the Pac-10. It also sets up the Pac-10’s alternate scenario of a possible two-team expansion to 12 teams if the six-team package deal fails to take shape, most likely with Utah taking the second spot.

As the quote states, this dooms Baylor.


Thursday, June 10th, 10:30 A.M. - It's official Colorado is in the Pac-10. At this time, Larry Scott has now announced that Colorado is officially the Pac-10's 11th member.

"This is an historic moment for the Conference, as the Pac-10 is poised for tremendous growth. The University of Colorado is a great fit for the Conference both academically and athletically and we are incredibly excited to welcome Colorado to the Pac-10," said Commissioner Larry Scott.

"On behalf of The University of Colorado students, faculty, alumni and fans, we are proud to accept this invitation from the Pac-10 and join the most prestigious academic and athletic conference in the nation, " said Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor of CU-Boulder.

"The University of Colorado is a perfect match – academically and athletically – with the Pac-10," said University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson, "our achievements and aspirations match those of the universities in the conference and we look forward to a productive relationship."

Chip Brown is now saying that it is now just a question of who signs next from the Big 12. He is sure that the rest of the Big 12 will sign on.


Friday, June 11th, 9:00 A.M. - Colorado has announced it will talk to the press about it's new membership at 11:00 A.M. MT in Boulder, CO.

So that was just a recap of what has gone on in the past couple of weeks. The question is what will happen next? Please feel free to write your own ending in the comments, just don't put anything in there about Iowa State or Baylor to the MWC. That's just wrong...

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