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Thursday, May 13, 2010
Missouri will listen if (when) Big Ten calls

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

This isn't exactly groundbreaking stuff, but Missouri officials continue to sound very open to joining the Big Ten if the opportunity presents itself.

The latest report from The Associated Press includes Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon saying the university "should look at [joining the Big Ten] if it is offered."

For Missouri and Nebraska, the decision to join the Big Ten is a no-brainer, as both schools would substantially increase their annual television revenue. The Big 12's unequal revenue sharing system really hurts the league as it tries to hold onto its members.

One interesting nugget at the end of the AP story:
Leaving the Big 12 wouldn't come without a cost. Under conference rules, Missouri could have left without penalty had it given the league two years notice by June 2009.

Now, a "breaching member" wanting to withdraw would owe the Big 12 a payment equal to 80 percent of its two-year conference revenues if notice is given by June 30. The penalty increases to 90 percent before the end of the year or 100 percent is notice isn't given until 2011.

If the Big Ten expands by three or five, which I've heard are the expected routes, it's hard to imagine Missouri and Nebraska being left out. Both schools probably wouldn't need much arm twisting to say yes to the Big Ten and its deep pockets.

It should be an interesting 72 hours next week when Big Ten coaches and athletic directors meet in Chicago.

While we're talking expansion -- what else? -- SI.com's Andy Staples has a good breakdown of all of the expansion candidates for the Big Ten and the Pac-10. Staples makes predictions of what will happen to each candidate, and he likes Rutgers, Nebraska and Missouri for the Big Ten.

Regarding Notre Dame, he writes: "Despite the financial benefit it could offer Notre Dame, the Big Ten still would need to blow up the Big East to force Notre Dame's hand. That probably would require the acquisition of at least three Big East teams. If that doesn't happen, expect Notre Dame to remain independent in football."

It sounds more and more like Notre Dame won't make a move unless the school finds itself in a corner with a flurry of activity around. Unless AD Jack Swarbrick can tell Notre Dame's independence-obsessed fan base, "I had no choice but to join," the Irish aren't going anywhere.