Big 12: Jay Nixon

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn says comments made by Missouri's governor expedited the Buffs' move to the Pac-10.

After the Big Ten announced in December of 2009 that it planned to explore expanding the league's membership, Missouri governor Jay Nixon was outspoken in support of Missouri exploring the possibilities of a move to the Big Ten.

[+] EnlargeJay Nixon
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonComments in 2009 by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, shown in April, hastened the decision of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn to get the Buffaloes out of the Big 12.
His comments, though, caused Bohn to assess what lied ahead in Colorado's future.

"The governor's remarks got me going. We had to do something, and fast," Bohn told the Denver Post's Woody Paige.
The Pac-10 had hired former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as chief operating officer. Bohn and Weiberg fast-tracked private talks, and the Buffaloes announced intentions in mid-June to join the Pac-10. The next day, Nebraska turned to the Big Ten. Missouri was left behind.

In December of 2009, Nixon made the first of several comments in support of Missouri exploring a move.

"This is not something that should be kept on the sports page and treated with the back of the hand," he said. "We have an obligation to make our schools as excellent as they can be."

Speaking explicitly of a move to the Big Ten, he said, "It's worth looking at."

Bohn didn't say which of Nixon's comments got him going, but the governor's most controversial comments came days later.

"I'm not going to say anything bad about the Big 12, but when you compare Oklahoma State to Northwestern, when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you begin looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at," Nixon said.

Nixon's hilariously ineffective, misguided clarifier that preceded his inflammatory comments didn't earn Missouri any friends across the conference, but I doubt anyone thought it could have accelerated the process of expansion during the summer. Nevermind that his comments were dealing with Big Ten expansion. His comments appeared to have the biggest effect on Pac-10 expansion.

With half the Big 12 still mulling a move to the Pac-10, Colorado booked its ticket west to try and connect with its large alumni base in California, leaving Baylor likely without a home and the Big 12 South's other five teams with a decision to make.

Ultimately, they decided to stay in the Big 12, which is why you aren't reading this post on the Pac-16 blog.

Had Nixon kept quiet, who knows what would have happened. But at the very least, it seems Colorado's move to the Pac-10 might have come a bit later, if at all.

Big 12 should heed expansion threats on both geographic sides

February, 10, 2010
If I'm Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, I would have my antennae poised as another interloper appears poised to try to break up my conference.

News that the Pac-10 Conference is considering expansion and hired Beebe's predecessor, former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, as his point man should be viewed as a very real threat in the Big 12's Irving, Texas offices.

Early reports have Colorado one of the Pac-10's primary targets. It makes sense because of the fast-growing population in the state, the Denver television market and Colorado's traditional history as a football power before the Buffaloes' recent struggles in the Big 12 in the last several seasons.

In fact, Phil Wallace of the blog L.A. Observed mentions today the Pac-10's expansion plans should begin with Colorado.

It marks the second time in the last three months the Big 12 has been targeted. Late last year, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa State among others were mentioned in plans to add new members that could develop into an expanded Big Ten Conference.

Missouri's interest in moving to the Big Ten seemed the most intense. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told the Associated Press he believed Missouri would be moving up in prestige by joining the conference, disparaging conference brethren Texas Tech and Oklahoma State when he talked about moving.

While both other conferences would offer advantages to the schools moving, Colorado's move doesn't have the economic ramifications a move to the Big Ten would provide. Big Ten schools are already making $10 million-plus more than their Big 12 counterparts because of the fledgling Big Ten Network that Weiberg helped to start.

None of that is in place now for the Pac-10. The addition of Colorado would help expand the conference's geographic footprint, but realistically would provide little else for Colorado's program. There's no guarantee that the Pac-10's plans for a television network will provide more than what the Buffaloes already receive in the Big 12. Would they bet on what's to come rather than keep what they currently have in Colorado's current conference affiliation?

It won't be that easy if Missouri or Nebraska were provided the opportunity to join the Big Ten. Tradition would mean something to both schools, but the larger television revenue for both schools could trump all of that.

If I was Beebe, I wouldn't take it as flattery that two of my conference's immediate geographic neighbors on either side are mentioned as trying to break up my conference.

Because if the Big 12 loses Missouri or Colorado or Nebraska, or Texas in some bold expansion plans, it would decline in national perception that would hurt badly.

It's something that Beebe can't afford to have happen on his watch.

And it's why he should be poised to react -- quickly -- as others are plotting to rip his conference apart.
It's cold and wet here in San Antonio today. Just a nasty day.

Perfect weather for some lunchtime links, if you ask me.

Enjoy them.

Missouri governor takes shot at Tech, OSU

December, 22, 2009
There's nothing quite like having a politician stir up some controversy by taking a shot at a current conference rivalry.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon made Missouri's next trip to Stillwater and Lubbock a little bit more eventful when he made derogatory remarks toward Texas Tech and Oklahoma State while saying the Tigers should explore all options in joining the Big Ten Conference.

Nixon, a Missouri alum, said his old school needs to think strongly about switching conferences -- primarily because he believes the Big Ten is a superior academic conference.

"I'm not going to say anything bad about the Big 12, but when you compare Oklahoma State to Northwestern, when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you begin looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at," Nixon said in an interview with The Associated Press.

I thought he wasn't going to say anything bad about the Big 12?

However the conference switch plays out, something tells me that Tech and OSU fans will long remember Nixon's words.