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Pac-10 Nearly A 12-Pac...Ramifications Are Huge


Pac-10 Is Nearly A 12-Pac…And It’s Ramifications

By Lance Epstein

The dominos began to fall earlier this week as reports surfaced that the University of Nebraska would most likely be switching from the Big 12 conference to the Big Ten [ironically they actually have 12 teams now].

On Thursday, the Pac-10 officially announced that the University of Colorado has decided to bolt from the Big 12 and join the Pacific Athletic Conference. The addition of the Buffalos program marks the first time the conference has expanded since 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State completed the current alignment of the conference.

"This is an historic moment for the conference, as the Pac-10 is poised for tremendous growth," commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement addressing the expansion.

One of the reasons that Scott and Colorado President Bruce D. Benson came to an agreement was that Colorado’s academics and athletic department fit the criteria that the conference was has been searching for.

"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."

"The University of Colorado is a perfect match -- academically and athletically -- with the Pac-10," Benson said in a statement. “Our achievements and aspirations match those of the universities in the conference and we look forward to a productive relationship.”

All that said the main reason that the Pac-10 wanted Colorado to join the conference so bad was because of the Denver market. Now the Pac-10 has four of the top ten television markets in the United States with San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Denver. This allows the conference to generate more national exposure and money into the conference.

It also assists the conference in obtaining a Pac-10 championship game in college football [need only one more team for the conference to be allowed to do so]. Additionally, the conference might begin to consider moving the basketball tournament each year among the four big markets, instead of just holding the tourney in the Staples Center.

Now that Colorado has already stating their intentions and Nebraska more than likely leaving the conference [as earlier as Friday,] expect more movement from teams in the Big 12. A week ago Pac-10 conference officials met in San Francisco and various reports came out that they were going to extend invitations to not only Colorado, but Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State as well.

If those other teams abandon the Big 12 conference like Colorado and Nebraska, then it would leave teams such as Baylor, Iowa State, Missouri [rumblings about them joining the Big Ten as well], Kansas State and Kansas in the dust. Ultimately those five teams would be forced to find a conference willing to accept their universities and programs.

This should not be a problem for the Kansas University because of their historic basketball program or Missouri who has been flirting with the Big Ten for a couple of weeks now. The real issue is for Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas State who might have to join a non-BCS conference such as the Mountain West or Conference USA. Interestingly, Baylor has stated on multiple occasions that even if the Big 12 conference fades away that they still want to be in the same conference as Texas and Texas A&M.

Nevertheless, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said he was well informed about Colorado’s decision to accept the Pac-10’s invitation. He is currently devising a plan to keep the Big 12 together in some kind of capacity.

"I continue to work through the process that was agreed upon last week by our Board of Directors to address membership issues, and are working tirelessly towards the long-term viability of the Big 12," Beebe said.

Things should really begin to heat up on Friday or early next week, when Nebraska announces their intensions to become a member of the Big Ten. In addition, Texas and Texas A&M officials are scheduled to meet on Thursday at an undisclosed location to talk about what the future holds for their athletic programs since the Big 12 might be falling by the waist-side according to ESPN.com.

However, it is widely known that University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds yearns to keep the Big 12 together and not have other conferences pick apart the conference like vultures.

Yet, one Big 12 coach told ESPN.com that unless Nebraska has a last minute change of heart and does not unite with the Big 10 conference that the Big 12 would go the way of the dinosaurs, which would be extinction.

The landscape of college athletics is changing and in the upcoming months and years fans might not have the same rivalries or foes. They probably won’t recognize historic matchups or the traditions that come with them since they will only happen once in a while.

Furthermore, this is just the beginning of collegiate sports turning into four or five mega-conferences. No one should expect the Southeastern Conference to stay put as the Pac-10 potentially gains two college football powerhouses in Texas and Oklahoma. Moreover, the Big Ten is getting a huge moneymaker in the Cornhuskers. As expected, rumors have already begun to swirl that the SEC will attempt to raid the ACC. The teams that are believed to be flirting with the idea are Florida State, Miami, Georgia Tech and Clemson.

If the SEC were able to acquire those four teams, ACC would be left in shambles like the Big 12. On the other hand, it might benefit the Big East, who would love to get their hands on the historic and tradition filled basketball programs of Duke, North Carolina and Maryland. Furthermore, the Big East would be able to get back two teams that were entrenched in their conference’s history. Ironically, Virginia Tech and Boston College bolted for the greener pastures of the ACC a couple years back and now their best option could be the Big East.

Ultimately by the time next year’s collegiate season kicks-off, many fans will be wondering who exactly is their rival, but more important who is exactly on their schedule.

Others like University of Arizona football fans might be wondering if they will ever make a Rose Bowl. With the likes of Texas and Oklahoma potentially in the same division, it is nearly impossible to out recruit or even put out a better product on the field.

At the end of the day, super conferences and capitalizing on the cash cows are the ways of the future even if it means fans lose tradition, rivalries and hope.

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