The four names are not a surprise, either, as the reported invitations went to Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska and Rutgers. Those four schools, along with Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Connecticut, have been the hottest names in the rumor mill when it comes to the teams on the Big Ten's radar.
If the report is true, the conference is planning on either expanding to 14 or 16 teams. The scenario laid out is that if all four accept the invite, the Big Ten will then look to add one more team to round things out at 16 -- but if at least one school elects to decline the offer, the conference may go with 14. The most likely school to refuse the proposal appears to be Notre Dame, a program that has been independent in football throughout history. Coincidentally, adding Notre Dame's football program would be -- by far -- the biggest financial coup for the conference in the expansion project.
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And, of course, there are already several denials/rebuttals on the board.
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman stated that there is no truth -- "none whatsoever" -- that they've been invited.
FanHouse has received the following statement from Nebraska spokesperson Meg Lauerman: "We recognize the intense speculation about conference realignment and the possible impact it may have on Nebraska. Both Chancellor Harvey Perlman and Athletic Director Tom Osborne have indicated that the university would consider any opportunity that would advance the interests of the university. The University of Nebraska has not been offered any opportunity to move from the Big 12. We remain committed to the success of the Big 12 Conference. Until the Big 10 Conference makes and announces its decision on expansion, the University of Nebraska will have no further comment and we do not intend to continue to respond further to questions or speculations on this subject."
The Kansas City Star is disputing the notion of anything official, as well.
FanHouse has received the following statement from Missouri: "The University of Missouri is receiving numerous inquiries related to public speculation about conference membership. MU is a member of the Big 12 Conference and will not respond to speculation about conference realignment. Mizzou continues to be grateful for all the interest shown in and support for the university."
And this statement from Rutgers has arrived as well: "We are a proud member of the Big East Conference. It is not our place to speculate on any reports on the expansion plans of any other conference."
Until it's all official, rumors will continue to rampantly swirl -- and we'll likely continue to see denials and/or generic statements.
For now, everyone should simply realize absolutely nothing has really, concretely happened.
UPDATE: Now, the Big Ten itself has reportedly offered up their own denial. Not only that, commissioner Jim Delany has publicly stated he would contact the commissioners of affected conferences before going after specific schools in any expansion plans, and that he has not done so to this point. Clearly, nothing even remotely imminent is in the works just yet.