Upheaval in Big 12 Continues as Colorado Leaves Ahead of Nebraska
The Pac-10 confirmed Thursday that Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the conference. Now all eyes turn to Nebraska and the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers' move to the Big Ten, which awaits an approval vote from the school's Board of Regents on Friday, would trigger a move by Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to the Pac-10 to form the first 16-school conference and effectively dissolve the Big 12.
"The Big 12 Conference has been informed that the University of Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the Pacific-10 Conference," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a released statement Thursday afternoon. "I continue to work through the process that was agreed upon last week by our Board of Directors to address membership issues, and am working tirelessly towards the long-term viability of the Big 12."
There had been some speculation the past two days that Baylor might replace Colorado in the Pac-10 mix, but the Pac-10 chose Colorado. That means Baylor is about to join Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State as Big 12 members with no place to go at this point. The sudden move to grab Colorado was apparently to send a message that the Pac-10 is not interested in Baylor.
The five members of the Big 12 South are still awaiting an official invite from the Pac-10, but it is expected to come by Friday, according to sources. The six ex-Big 12 schools will combine with Arizona and Arizona State to form an eight-school division in the Pac-10.
One potential problem is speculated interest by the SEC in Texas A&M.
According to sources at Texas and Texas A&M, UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds and A&M athletic director Bill Byrne are expected to meet Thursday to discuss their respective positions. It has been understood that Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech will stick together in any conference realignment scenario.
Dodds, along with UT president Bill Powers and associate athletic director Chris Plonsky, met with the Longhorns coaches Wednesday to update them on the status of the Big 12 and to let them know that the school did all it could to hold the conference together. But the Big 12 has likely met its demise.
Missouri appears to be the biggest loser because it was expected for weeks that Missouri and Nebraska would receive Big Ten invites. But so far the Big Ten has only invited Nebraska and, at this point, is no longer showing interest in Missouri.
Officials at the Big 12 offices, meanwhile, are floating the possibility of holding the conference together with 10 or 11 members. The league would no longer be able to play a conference championship without a 12th member, but Big 12 insiders are hinting that may not be a bad thing. The absence of a championship game could clear a hurdle for Big 12 teams to make it to the BCS national title game because it lets them play one fewer game against a high-caliber opponent and avoid the risk of a loss that would derail championship hopes.