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Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Plenty of Big Ten intrigue at Big 12 meetings

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

The Big Ten spring meetings provided a few clues about the league's expansion study, and a few more could come Sunday, as the league's presidents and chancellors meet in Park Ridge, Ill.

But if you're an expansion junkie -- admit it, most of you are -- you should definitely tune in to what's happening at the Big 12 meetings this week in Kansas City. Colleague David Ubben will be in attendance, providing tons of updates on a conference trying to maintain unity and enhance its profile as the SEC and Big Ten try to distance themselves from the pack.

What should we expect in Kansas City? Well, this league doesn't look like one big happy family right now.

Unlike the Big Ten, which didn't put expansion on its official spring meetings agenda and tried to downplay the topic in Chicago, the Big 12 has made expansion a chief priority/concern this week. The meeting agenda includes a section on "conference membership," and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe wants some clear answers and, ideally, a league-wide pledge of loyalty (good luck, Dan).
"The importance of these meetings can’t be overstated," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said. "This is a critical point in the time of the Big 12 and there needs to be some honest discussion about what must happen to solidify the members’ standing in the conference."

Beebe told The Dallas Morning News that his strategy this week consists of "convincing, persuading, cajoling and making recommendations" to Big 12 members to remain with the league. The commish also said the league could discuss increasing the penalties for schools to leave and join other conferences.
"I’m going to put to our membership that they quit deciding how to react and just go forward," Beebe said. "We’re going forward, this plane is going to take off and we’re going to see who’s onboard.”

The Big 12's biggest challenge is simple, especially as it relates to schools like Nebraska and Missouri, often mentioned as potential jumpers to the Big Ten.

The league's power clearly has shifted to the South Division, and some would say it revolves around the University of Texas. And since the league doesn't share revenue equally, some of its members, particularly those in the North Division, feel a bit slighted. From a pure revenue perspective, Nebraska and Missouri would be nuts not to join the Big Ten, where they would not only make more money, but receive even shares with the rest of the league. Can the Big 12 change its ways or form a mutually beneficial partnership with the Pac-10?

I'm very interested to see how officials from Nebraska and Missouri interact with the rest of the Big 12 power brokers. Will Tom Osborne and Beebe square off in The Octagon?

If nothing else, Big 12 meetings should provide some good theater. I'll be watching, and so should you.