Dallas Colleges: Pac-10
We've seen it before, most notably a few years ago when Utah rammed it down the supposedly deflated egos of the powerful Alabama Crimson Tide.
The No. 5 Wisconsin Badgers, co-champions of the Big Ten, will not enter Saturday's Rose Bowl disappointed they're not playing the Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks or even runner-up Stanford Cardinal as part of the historic tie-in for the New Year's Day game.
They say they can't since they won't even enter the Rose Bowl as the oddsmakers' favorite to win.
"I think we know what we have at stake and we understand the bigger picture," Wisconsin senior tight end Lance Kendricks said. "Although it’s a non-AQ team, they have the No. 1 defense in the country and they have good players...[They're] just a little smaller [size-wise], but obviously more athletic and just faster. But, I think the scheme they run is just not anything we've seen before."
Likewise, the 6-foot-4, 241-pound Kendricks is likely not anything the Frogs have seen before. The All-American finished fourth in the country if receiving yards by a tight end (627) and he averaged 16.1 yards a catch this season.
TCU is the nation's No. 1 ranked overall defense and it is also No. 1 in passing yards allowed (126.3). The Frogs are the only team in the nation to hold all but one opponent under 200 yards in passing and consider that 89 of the 120 FBS (Division I-A) teams currently allow an average of 200 or more yards passing a game.
"What better challenge can you have than to face the No. 1 team defensively?" Kendricks said. "For us, we've taken on challenges all year and we've been pretty successful at it."
Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly was quite candid to Bruce Feldman of ESPN The Magazine following Monday's announcement that the Big 12 would survive as a 10-team league.
"I was very excited to hear that Texas held together the Big 10 or Big 12 or whatever you're calling it. I thought that was pretty telling," Kelly said. "Obviously, if Texas goes to the Pac-10, there's a chance that there are super conferences and they'll cast a big shadow -- I would have been nervous whether we could've stayed on the sidelines. Now, if things stablize, nothing really happened in the Pac-10 if you look at it: USC Trojans went on probation, the best quarterback got kicked off the Oregon Ducks team and they took the Colorado Buffaloes. That's not such a big deal for me. The Nebraska Cornhuskers went to the Big Ten. Nothing else occurred for me to be nervous. Texas was obviously a huge piece."
Penned by James Vernon “Pinky” Wilson during a lull in World War I, the Aggies' "fight song" lyrics are dripping with Wilson's and every red-blooded Aggies' disdain for Texas University:
Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck!
Hullabaloo, Caneck! Caneck!
Good-bye to Texas University
So long to the Orange and the White
Good luck to the dear old Texas Aggies
They are the boys that show the real old fight
"The eyes of Texas are upon you..."
That is the song they sing so well
So good-bye to Texas University
We're going to beat you all to --
Rough Tough! Real Stuff! Texas A & M!
Saw Varsity's horns off!
Saw Varsity's horns off!
Saw Varsity's horns off!
Would a split of these century-old rivals end the tradition-rich Texas-Texas A&M football game? Would the relationship become so strained that Texas, which would play in a revamped Pac-10, decide to make alternative Thanksgiving plans? Have we reached a point where Aggies feel as though they're living under UT's giant thumb and are ready to go? What would they do with their Saw 'em Off! t-shirts and bumper stickers?
With so much talk about saving rivalries as the current college conference landscape tremors with change, A&M athletic director Bill Byrne -- led by a hard sell by former A&M and Alabama coach Gene Stallings (now on the A&M Board of Regents) -- could be playing with fire. How does "Lou-is-iana State U-ni-ver-sity" or "Al-a-bam-a U-ni-ver-sity" sound in the Aggie War Hymn?
Now, does a split mean that the Texas and A&M rivalry is entirely dead? Well, no, both sides could still agree to a Thanksgiving non-conference game. Still, it wouldn't carry the same weight as conference archrivals, and there is a chance -- I think a very good one -- that the game doesn't get scheduled because of the lingering bad taste from the split.
Texas and A&M felt so strongly about their rivalries in all sports that they created the State Farm Lone Star Showdown for all men's and women's head-to-head competition. The Lone Star Showdown trophy is awarded to the winning school each year. Neither school has a similar competition with any other school.
It is true that culturally speaking, Texas, in liberal-leaning Austin, is a good fit for the Pac-10, while the conservative-minded Aggies would be well-placed in the SEC. Still, we're talking sports not politics and it's difficult, even sad, to envision the state's two oldest public schools parting.
A separation would create one of the few instances in which large, in-state rivals compete in different conferences. Obviously Florida (SEC) and Florida State (ACC) is a notabe exception, but even that comes with asterisk because Florida State only emerged as a football power with the arrival of Bobby Bowden in 1976 and it doesn't carry the same long-term conference affiliation as A&M (SWC and Big 12).
But, if A&M decides to head east, it will have to live with being the party that went rogue and severed ties. Are Aggie fans ready to Saw 'em Off! for good.
If so, it's good-bye to Texas University.
Texas president William Powers Jr., athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women's athletic director Chris Plonsky met with Texas A&M president Bowen Loftin, athletics director Bill Byrne and other university system officials at an undisclosed location.
Dodds has said he wants to keep the Big 12 together, and Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook said the meeting Thursday included "several topics of mutual interest to both institutions" but that "no decisions were made or agreements reached."
Kansas coach Bill Self describes the Jayhawks' helpless feeling as they remain in a holding pattern and wait to see how things play out in the Big XII. Self says he wasn't aware of a possible realignment until six months ago. Click here for the podcast.
Chris Mortensen believes it would have made more sense for Nebraska to move to the Pac-10 but explains why that didn't end up happening. Click here for the podcast.
OrangeBloods.com's Chip Brown talks about Nebraska's expected move to the Big Ten. Brown also explains why he believes the Big XII is dead and more movement is forthcoming. Click here for the podcast.
Former Texas Tech basketball coach Bob Knight shares his thoughts on all of the rumors regarding possible conference expansions. Click here for the podcast.
Joe Schad discusses possible conference expansion scenarios and whether there is pressure on Notre Dame to join the Big Ten. Click here for the podcast.
"Baylor is working feverishly to keep the Big 12 together," Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw told The Associated Press on Thursday. "It is of special importance to keep the four Big 12 schools from Texas together."
Despite reports that said otherwise, the office of Texas Gov. Rick Perry denied that he asked officials from Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Texas to meet with him Thursday. Perry, running for re-election, will be in Dallas on Thursday night for the state Republican convention.
Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Associated Press that he hadn't heard from the Pac-10.
"I haven't talked to the commissioner out there. We haven't done anything," Myers said.
The alternative is a migration to the Pac-10 for six teams -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado -- which would signal the destruction of the Big 12 and would leave Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and quite possibly Missouri -- which wants Big Ten membership, but might not get it -- in limbo.
For days now, Nebraska has been considered the Big 12 linchpin. If the Huskers leave, the conference dissolves. But does it have to dissolve if saving the league is really the No. 1 goal for Texas and the other Big 12 members? If only Nebraska leaves, what would be the quickest fix to replace one school?
Obviously, Nebraska won't be the only Big 12 school on the move. Colorado officially accepted a bid to join the Pac-10 on Thursday. So the Big 12 could operate as a 10-team league or look to fill two spots.
TCU and who? A fellow Mountain West Conference team? Houston from Conference USA? The Big 12 already owns the Houston market. Adding another MWC team like BYU or Air Force would seem the only logical route -- assuming Arkansas has no plans to vacate the revenue pipeline that is the SEC. Of course, the Big 12 could look at this model and deem a move to the Pac-16 as being a vastly more lucrative option.
Back in January in California when TCU coach Gary Patterson accepted his Coach of the Year award from the Football Writers Association of America, he said the Frogs wouldn't hesitate to join the Big 12 if asked. He even joked that it would be all the better if they could hop right into the weaker North Division.
TCU athletics measure up in nearly every sport except men's basketball. Patterson's Frogs completed an undefeated regular season and played in the Fiesta Bowl. The baseball team begins the super-regional round Friday in Austin against the Longhorns, a rematch from last year, for a spot in the College World Series. The women's basketball team has played in multiple NCAA Tournaments. TCU's other Olympic sports are competitive.
TCU has poured money into building first-rate athletic facilities and plans are in motion to renovate Amon G. Carter Stadium.
However, some close to the TCU athletic department are skeptical that the Big 12 would extend an invitation to TCU in its hour of need. One source cited the fact that, like Houston, the Big 12 already owns the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Plus, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech greatly enjoy the recruiting advantage they own with the Frogs in a lesser conference.
A Pac-16, with its massive reach, visibility and popularity would seemingly only accentuate that advantage.
But, say that Texas and friends opt to save a 10-team Big 12 without TCU. Would it pursue BYU and Air Force first? Those schools seem most logical because they at least secure Salt Lake City TVs, while Air Force, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., somewhat taps into the Denver market.
These are fast and crazy times.
Crazy is to think that the Baylor-TCU football game in September is now more likely to be rekindled as a conference matchup in the Mountain West and not the Big 12. Crazy.
The source said the meetings included the chancellors, presidents and athletic directors from the three schools. Not present was a Baylor contingent. Baylor is locked in a battle with Colorado for what is presumed to be the sixth spot along with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that would create a 16-team superconference with the Pac-10 schools. Colorado is believed to be favored by the Pac-10.
Texas and Texas A&M will meet Thursday to discuss their next move with Nebraska apparently on the verge of leaving the conference. Another Big 12 source said that Nebraska's actions have greatly accelerated talks among officials at Big 12 schools.
The source said that athletic director DeLoss Dodds and school president William Powers met with the Texas coaches on Wednesday to update them on the swirling realignment talks.
Texas and the other Big 12 South schools, the source said, continue to work to keep the Big 12 intact.
First let's recognize that big, private-school bullies Notre Dame, USC and Miami aren't going to join, so here's what I propose for a mighty eight-team BPC:
First, we'll have the Lone Star Division consisting of Baylor, TCU, SMU and Rice (it's not like SMU and Rice are loving their set-up in Conference USA, and if you're them, wouldn't you rather play TCU and Baylor instead of Marshall and East Carolina? -- I know, TCU and SMU do play, but I'm talking in heated BPC play).
And let's face facts, Baylor is fighting an uphill battle to join the Pac-10. I think we can all agree that the Pac-10 prefers Colorado to Baylor (even if Colorado's biggest asset is simply it's proximity to the Pacific Ocean), and if reports are correct, Colorado is trying to beat Baylor to the punch by becoming the first to leave the Big 12 and join the Pac-10.
Now, if Colorado succeeds in seceding, then the Pac-10 could follow up by inviting Utah and leaving the rest of the Big 12 alone. This would allow Baylor to stick to its Big 12 Texas brethren who were ready to leave them in the realignment rubble. This scenario has a strong chance of happening if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten and scuttles Nebraska's and Missouri's plan to join the Big Ten. But wait, how can Nebraska get its wish and land in the Big Ten anyway? Simple. The BPC raids the Big Ten and grabs Northwestern, thus opening a spot for the Huskers, which then makes the Big 12 the Big 11, furthering Baylor's excitement at sticking to it to them while leaving Big 11 commissioner Dan Beebe with an itty-bitty problem.
With Utah in the Pac-10, BYU and TCU then decide that even if the Mountain West Conference adds Boise State to replace Utah, a move to the all-private-school conference is a better fit on all counts.
Where do the two remaining private schools come from to round out the eight-team conference? Just a bit more fun by plundering the mighty conferences. The BPC would then raid the SEC for its lone private school, Vanderbilt, and then dive into the ACC to steal Baylor's counterpart, the Baptists of the East, at Wake Forest.
This will be easy because the SEC can then snatch Georgia Tech or Miami to fill Vanderbilt's vacancy. Sure, the ACC will end up losing Wake and then another school to the SEC, but in this day and age it's all about survival, so let them deal with it. Heck, they can probably grab a program from the Big East.
OK, so now we have the Lone Star Division and what we'll call the America Division with Vandy, Wake, BYU and Northwestern.
Need a TV deal, you say? No problem. Look, only Northwestern, Vandy and Wake are making good coin in their current conferences, but I'm confident a lucrative deal can be hatched with niche-specific networks seeking to expose programming to an all new demographic. It just takes some creativity.
Since five of the eight schools are religiously affiliated, the well-heeled Trinity Broadcasting Network is a perfect fit. And because all of these fine institutions offer top-notch educations, the National Geographic Channel and BBC America (come on, both could use a ratings hike from college football) can cough up millions (think of all those new advertisers they'll attract), and of course, the myriad of ESPN channels will provide the backbone.
There you have it. The revenge of the Big Privates.
(Disclaimer: Withhold your irate emails. Above comments are not to be taken seriously. Thank you.)
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self saw this coming, the day when Jayhawks hoops, one of the three premiere college basketball programs in America, would compete for conference championships with Utah, BYU, TCU Air Force and San Diego State.
As coach Self knows all too well, basketball is great, but football pays the bills and cold, hard cash (as in fat football TV contracts) is at the heart of impending conference realignment.
If a Pac-10/Big 12 (South) merger were to go down, Kansas (along with Kansas State and Iowa State) would be left out of the major-conference realignment. Kansas could find itself with little choice but to join the Mountain West Conference.
On Feb. 15, as the Big 12 was headed down the stretch run of what was arguably the legaue's most competitive season from top to bottom, and rivaled the Big East for national supremacy, Self was asked about the rumors of realignment, which at that point were being spearheaded by the Big Ten's stated desire to expand.
"I don't understand all the ins and outs. I would think the Big Ten, with the Big Ten Network and the media markets that they have, naturally would be more of a money-generating league [than the Big 12] from the television aspect of it. But, there's more to it than just the money.
"Having to start new rivalries with people, that would take 40 or 50 years to build and I'm sure it wouldn't be a favorite of the fan base and so many things that go along with it that I don't think it would be positive. But, if the Big Ten were to come after us -- I'm not saying they are, the Pac-10 or any league, because they're not, I don't know anything about it -- that would be something I'd strongly try to fight. There's some things that are inbred with fans and throughout your teams over time that it makes it so special to play certain games and to eliminate those games are in very, very poor taste for so many.
"I do think there is a lot of flirting going on and you certainly understand why people listen, but at the end of the day, I think our league is rock solid."
Self is correct on two of four counts. First, Kansas fans would not be happy dropping its roots rivalries from the Big Eight and newer ones with Texas and Baylor and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M in the Big 12 for Colorado State and Wyoming and UNLV and New Mexico in the MWC.
Second, Self is correct, surely to his chagrin, that neither the Big Ten nor the Pac-10 is coming after Kansas.
Now, the two counts Self got wrong? For one, clearly the Big 12 is not rock solid. And, obviously, there's not more to it than just the money.
With the Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten holding their meetings this week, there has been plenty of news spilling out about potential landscape-changing realignment among some of the nation's most powerful conferences.
Among the developments Sunday:
* The Big 12 reportedly issued a deadline to Nebraska and Missouri to state their intentions about whether they intend to leave for the Big Ten.
* The Pac-10 presidents and chancellors gave commissioner Larry Scott the authority to expand the conference. No specific plans were embraced, and the only timeframe Scott discussed was to have something in place by the end of the year.
* The Big Ten didn't take any formal action on expansion but acknowledged that its timetable could be affected by what happens with other conferences.
And in case you missed Saturday's developments, Texas lawmakers reportedly are preparing to demand that Baylor be included instead of Colorado should the Pac-10 extend an invitation to six Big 12 teams -- including Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
ESPN Austin radio host and Orangebloods.com writer Chip Brown went on Outside The Lines to break down the possibilities surrounding the potential realignment of the Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten conferences.
Earlier in the week, the website reported that the Pac-10 is planning to extend invitations to Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado.
"If you're going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we're going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don't think so. We're already at work on this," a high-ranking member of the Texas Legislature who asked not to be identified told Orangebloods.com.
The source said that there is a block of 15 legislators working to make sure that Baylor, not Colorado, is invited to join the Pac-10. The source pointed to the political and economic importance of keeping the Big 12's Texas schools together as well as Colorado's recent athletic struggles and lack of sports such as baseball, softball and men's tennis.
Meanwhile, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott laid out a host of expansion scenarios to athletic directors Friday, the first day of conference meetings in San Francisco. They range from a full merger with the Big 12; to merging with six current Big 12 schools, including Texas; to adding Colorado and Utah; to the status quo, according to one athletic director.
On Sunday morning, Scott will brief school presidents and chancellors.
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