At this week's meeting of the Association of American Universities, all eleven Big Ten presidents are meeting to discuss the future of the Big Ten, and by all accounts, the Big Ten is ready to fire the first round of conference expansion. By all accounts, the Big Ten is looking to add three and potentially five teams to the Big Ten. Who are those teams? We might find out in the next week, as Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany's first actions would be to notify the other conferences who they might be interested in.
What does a 16 team Big Ten mean, other than a new name? First of all, it represents a challenge to the Southeastern Conference, who has moved into the forefront ion college football. In all likelihood, the SEC would likely consider expansion as well. The Pac Ten would almost certainly look to expand as well, if only to get a conference championship game.
When those dominoes fall, what will college football look like? Very likely, there will only be four conferences remaining: the Big Ten, the SEC, the ACC, and the Pac 10. The Big Ten will likely target several members of the Big East, thus spelling the end of the Big East, at least in football. If the SEC and Pac 10 decide to expand, the overtures will likely focus on the Big XII.Texas probably won't be a fit for the Big Ten...but what about the SEC? Pairing up the Longhorns with Texas A&M and possibly Oklahoma would be a natural for the SEC. Who would that fourth team be? Well, what about the Nebraska Cornhuskers? Assuming that the SEC wouldn't try to pick off Miami and Florida State, Nebraska brings a brand pedigree and gives the SEC a bit of a presence in the Midwest that couldn't be ignored by broadcasters. Of course, Nebraska will probably be one of the candidates to join the Big Ten as well. Could this actually kick off a bidding war?
Assuming that Missouri ends up in the Big Ten, the remaining Big XII schools would likely be a target for the Pac 10, who would feel the need to get to 16 teams as well. Kansas and Colorado would be the first choice to establish a presence east of the Rockies, and Texas Tech and Oklahoma State would help fill that out. Kansas State might sneak in along with a BYU, Utah, or Boise State. Iowa State and Baylor might be left out in the cold.
The remains of the Big East probably would fold into the ACC to finish off the conference consolidation.
Whether Nebraska wants to remain in the Big XII might become irrelevant if the Big XII ceases to exist under realignment. In this scenario, it becomes every man for himself. The discussions behind closed doors are about to be exposed, and it could be a rather explosive, radical change. Chaos may soon reign in college football.
So what's your prediction for what happens to Nebraska? And what's your preference?