For months now, rumor and speculation – including speculation from yours truly – have been swirling around the expansion plans of the Big 10. Primarily to create a football championship game, the Big 10 announced that it was going to spend a year to a year and a half considering expansion. Since then, the Big 12 has been the subject of nearly constant speculation that it would be raided, with schools such as Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas frequently mentioned as candidates to join the Big 10.
The Pac 10 has also joined the Big 12 raiding speculation party with talk that Colorado may be leaving to join the Pac 10. But all this has been speculation.
Until now. The athletic directors in the Big 12, holding their annual meetings in Kansas City this week, have begun talking. Blair Kerkhoff writes in today’s Kansas City Star:
Reports that the Pacific-10 Conference would target six Big 12 teams started surfacing early Thursday afternoon. Later, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said that he believed his school would be invited to join the Pac-10, along with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“The longer that we were together in Kansas City, it appeared that the rumor of speculation did have some validity,” Bohn told the Boulder Daily Camera.
Asked directly if Oklahoma had been contacted by the Pac-10, Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione said, “Not yet.”
Since the talk of expansion began, the words of the various athletic directors involved in the speculation have been given carefully and deliberately. The AD spin has included such (paraphrased) things as “The Big 12 has made us all better off” and “We like the Big 12” have been balanced with things like “we have to keep our options open.” Not anymore.
Moreover, OU’s Castiglione has been one of the most vocal proponents of keeping the Big 12 together during these meetings, no doubt because he was in the league when it was born.
But his words have certainly changed in the past couple of days. Here is a quote from Castiglione from another Kerkhoff column from Wednesday’s KC Star.
“This league was developed because people thought innovatively, creatively,” Castiglione said. “We may not have been the league that had the largest population in its footprint, or the largest number of states represented, but we found a way to accentuate our strengths and put ourselves in a position to be strong and competitive and prominent on a national scale.
“Take any sport you want and you’ll find proof in the pudding.”
So we’ve gone from talk that the Big 12 has been a great conference (which it has IMHO) and needs to be protected to talk of ‘yeah, I think we’ll be asked to leave.’
I still have one or two pieces of Big 8 memorabilia around my house. Perhaps I need to take better care of the Big 12 memorabilia because I may not have a chance to acquire anymore in the near future.