NCF Nation: Brady Deaton

Big 12 commish: Mizzou making a mistake

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
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Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas says Missouri's move to the SEC is the wrong one.

"The decision by the University of Missouri to leave the Big 12 Conference is disappointing," Neinas said in a statement. "Mizzou has been a valuable member, with a Conference connection to schools in the Big 12 that dates back to 1907. I personally believe this decision is a mistake and that Missouri is a better fit in the Big 12. Once we have received a formal notice of withdrawal from Missouri, we will furnish it to our Board of Directors. The Board will review the situation and take appropriate action."

Interesting that Missouri didn't formally withdraw from the conference before announcing the move to the SEC, too.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin released a statement Sunday, too.

"We are pleased that Missouri will be joining Texas A&M in the SEC — the nation's preeminent athletic conference — next season," Loftin said in the statement. "Like Texas A&M, Missouri is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is a great addition to the SEC in terms of academics, geography, a passionate fan base, and a well-rounded athletic program. I have had numerous conversations with Chancellor Deaton over the past several months, and I know he approached this decision deliberately and methodically as he acted in the best long-term interests of his fine institution. We are excited about what the future holds for both the Aggies and the Tigers as members of the SEC."

Missouri's move to the SEC is official

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
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Missouri will join the SEC and plans to be the conference's 14th member in the 2012-13 academic year, according to a Sunday morning announcement.

"I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in the news release. "Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."

But could hurdles to making that happen still lie ahead? West Virginia and the Big 12 announced their plans for the Mountaineers to join the league in 2012, but the school and the Big East are currently embroiled in dueling suits over the league's 27-month notice required in Big East bylaws.

From our news story: "A source recently told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that Missouri could have trouble getting out of the Big 12 because the league isn't sure if it can get the Mountaineers in from the Big East next season."

The Big 12 is required to have 10 members to fulfill its television contract.

Missouri and the SEC plan to have a public celebration and news conference on Sunday afternoon in Columbia.

"The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri," school chancellor Brady J. Deaton said in the SEC statement. "In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success."

Missouri's entrance also gives the SEC a fourth Association of American Universities member, joining Texas A&M, Florida and Vanderbilt.

Missouri's move to the SEC is official

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
11:30
AM ET
Missouri will join the SEC and plans to be the conference's 14th member in the 2012-13 academic year, according to a Sunday morning announcement.

"I am pleased to officially welcome the University of Missouri to the SEC family on behalf of our presidents, chancellors, athletics directors, students and fans," SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in the news release. "Missouri is an outstanding academic institution with a strong athletic program. We look forward to having the Tigers compete in our league starting in 2012."

But could hurdles to making that happen still lie ahead? West Virginia and the Big 12 announced their plans for the Mountaineers to join the league in 2012, but the school and the Big East are currently embroiled in dueling suits over the league's 27-month notice required in Big East bylaws.

From our news story: "A source recently told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that Missouri could have trouble getting out of the Big 12 because the league isn't sure if it can get the Mountaineers in from the Big East next season."

The Big 12 is required to have 10 members to fulfill its television contract.

Missouri and the SEC plan to have a public celebration and news conference on Sunday afternoon in Columbia.

"The Southeastern Conference is a highly successful, stable, premier athletic conference that offers exciting opportunities for the University of Missouri," school chancellor Brady J. Deaton said in the SEC statement. "In joining the SEC, MU partners with universities distinguished for their academic programs and their emphasis on student success."

Missouri's entrance also gives the SEC a fourth Association of American Universities member, joining Texas A&M, Florida and Vanderbilt.

No Big 12 withdrawal for Mizzou

October, 24, 2011
10/24/11
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The Big 12's board of directors met on Monday, but Missouri did not express its desire to withdraw from the Big 12.

The news was a mild surprise since Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton was expected to use the opportunity to inform the rest of the conference of the school's planned departure. Deaton was given the power last week to make decisions on the future of the university's athletic program. An excerpt from the ESPN.com item:
Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas told the Kansas City Star that Missouri did not submit a letter of conditional withdrawal or notify the Big 12 that it planned to leave.

"The conference encouraged Missouri to stay in the Big 12," Neinas said, according to the report.

And in a news release, the Big 12 said "a strong desire for the University of Missouri to maintain its Big 12 affiliation was expressed" at the meeting.

The Tigers' expected departure for the Southeastern Conference has been reported as "imminent and inevitable."

The league also discussed the possibility of a conference-wide network.

On Monday, the board reaffirmed a previous resolution in which the league's members pledged to grant their Tier I (over-the-air) and Tier II (cable) media rights to the Big 12.

Texas A&M announced it would leave the Big 12 to become the SEC's 13th member last month.

Last June, Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 for the Big Ten and Pac-12, respectively.

TCU expected to accept Big 12 offer

October, 6, 2011
10/06/11
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TCU's board of trustees is meeting on Thursday to vote on whether to accept an invitation from the Big 12, a source told ESPNDallas.com.

TCU is expected to accept the offer and could join as soon as the 2012 season.
"These discussions with the Big 12 have huge implications for TCU," TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini Jr. said in a statement. "It will allow us to return to old rivalries, something our fans and others have been advocating for many years. As always, we must consider what's best for TCU and our student-athletes in this ever-changing landscape of collegiate athletics. We look forward to continuing these discussions with the Big 12."

TCU said it would have no further comment on Thursday.

The Big 12's offer came on Thursday via a unanimous vote, but Missouri did not take part in the vote on the advice of legal counsel.

Missouri is currently exploring its conference options after authorizing chancellor Brady Deaton to act on behalf of the university in regards to conference affiliation, via a unanimous vote of Missouri's board of curators on Tuesday night.

Mizzou takes next steps out of Big 12

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
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Everything is far from official, but Missouri took another step away from the Big 12 at its board of curators meeting on Tuesday.

Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton was given the "authority to take any and all action necessary to fully explore options to conference affiliation" for Missouri and its university system. The university's board of curators granted him the authority unanimously.

He also resigned his post as the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors, notifying his colleagues of the decision earlier in the day. He did so to eliminate a conflict of interest and allow himself to focus "single-mindedly" on what was best for Mizzou.

Missouri says this is only an exploration of its conference affiliation, but Texas A&M and Oklahoma made the same moves earlier this fall.

Texas A&M left for the SEC. Oklahoma didn't when the Pac-12 announced it would not expand.

"Missouri is a member in good standing in the Big 12, and I anticipate [it] will continue to be a member of the Big 12," Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement on Tuesday.

Deaton plans to meet with his consultants to "explore the university's options."

"That will require analysis and discussion," Deaton said.

Missouri made it known that they didn't blame the Big 12 for demanding its members hand over its media rights for six years to ensure stability.

Mizzou has options. The Big 12 can't blame it for exploring them.
The Big 12 would like to do a lot in the near future.

It would like the nine remaining members to grant their media rights to the league, ensuring stability for at least six years. It would also like to expand, or at least formally explore expansion.

Neinas
Neinas
But for now, it still has to know, to borrow a phrase from former commissioner Dan Beebe, "who is on the plane."

For now, Missouri has offered no concrete guarantee that it won't be leaving for the SEC, but new commissioner Chuck Neinas is confident the Tigers are staying.

"We understand that relative to the grant of rights issue this matter has to be considered by the Missouri board of curators, and they will have an opportunity to review what the conference has accomplished, what we're doing and what we plan to do," Neinas told reporters on a conference call Wednesday night. "I think that once they have an opportunity to fully understand and comprehend what the conference is doing that they will agree that Missouri should continue to be a good member of the Big 12 Conference."

There's no timetable for the grant-of-rights proposal, considering each school has different requirements to do so, but Neinas discussed that and Missouri's future on Wednesday.
He also said he did not know of any offer to Missouri from another conference.

"I have not been contacted by anyone from the Southeastern Conference," he said.

Neinas suggested that Missouri would probably miss its century-old Border War football rivalry with Kansas and the opportunity to play its conference basketball tournament regularly in Kansas City, Mo., if it decided to switch leagues.

"So I think there's a lot to look at," Neinas said. "You know what happens is a pretty girl walks down the aisle and you say, 'Boy, I'd like to take her to the prom.' But there's also one who's tried and true and you know is going to be there."

Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard told the Austin American-Statesman he "wouldn't say they are holding up (future plans)," and that he feels "strongly" they will stay in the league.

Neinas also added that his lack of knowledge of an offer from the SEC didn't mean Missouri didn't have one, but he's reiterated several times he feels Missouri will stay.

"There would be a problem of perception," Neinas said of the possibility of a fourth team leaving the Big 12 in 15 months. "We can build the house again with different pieces. I can tell you that there is no shortage of interest from schools exploring membership in this conference. But we want Missouri to continue to be a member of the Big 12."

One voice needed for Big 12's next step

September, 23, 2011
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The Big 12 tried to put on its Sunday best at its Thursday night Big 12 revival.

After it ended with everyone confused, it's clear that not much has changed.

There’s still fighting -- this time Missouri and Oklahoma sending mixed messages -- and Texas is sitting satisfied.

Thursday night, OU and Mizzou held simultaneous press conferences.

Oklahoma president David Boren said all remaining schools -- except for Texas A&M -- "agreed" to give a six-year grant of their first- and second-tier television rights to the Big 12. That means that all revenue from the top television games -- shown currently on networks owned by ABC/ESPN and Fox -- would continue to go to the Big 12 even if a school bolts to another league.

Signing over those rights would mean that Oklahoma, or any other school, would not be paid directly for media revenue, regardless of which conference it was in. The money would be paid to the Big 12. If a school left, the Big 12 would collect revenue from the new conference.

Money would then redistributed through the rest of the conference.

In short, the agreement would make Big 12 teams very attractive to the Big 12 -- and no one else.

[+] EnlargeDan Beebe
AP Photo/Cody DutyThe loss of Colorado, Nebraska and likely Texas A&M resulted in a loss in confidence with commissioner Dan Beebe.
Except that it hasn't happened yet.

While Boren trumpeted it as an agreement, Missouri said no such thing. A source later confirmed that "there was no agreement, only an agreement to work toward that as a potential outcome."

On Missouri's conference call, there were literally two voices speaking, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton first before wires were crossed and Boren blared above the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors.

Boren and Deaton spoke simultaneously, drowning out their conflicting messages by coming together ... and forming unintelligible noise.

Boren said when he arrived to the podium at Norman that the league's conference call had ended just minutes earlier.

It was probably worth the extra time to get their stories straight before causing yet another black eye for the Big 12, which is trying to rebound from its second major crisis in 18 months.

Contrast that with the Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC. When was the last time Ohio State's decision-makers, Gene Smith or E. Gordon Gee, talked about anything publicly regarding conference alignment?

Each conference has a singular voice, a leader, a representative of the conference. Whatever the conference does, commissioners Jim Delany, Mike Slive and Larry Scott are the ones voicing it. They lead their conferences.

Dan Beebe never proved to be the leader the conference needed.

He was a good man in an unfortunate situation -- a near untenable one, really, considering what he had to deal with -- but a change was necessary.

Beebe ceded to Texas' desire to create its own network last summer. The Big 12 would have died without it, but ironically, it sparked Texas A&M's decision to apply to the SEC.

The departures of Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M, however, resulted in Beebe being seen as an ineffective leader, both inside and outside the conference.

[+] EnlargeTexas Longhorns flag
Harry How/Getty ImagesInterim commissioner Chuck Neinas will have to battle the perception that Texas runs the Big 12.
The Big 12 will have a new commissioner, and interim commissioner Chuck Neinas will have to battle the perception that Texas runs the league if the Big 12 wants to convince anyone it has any stability.

He'll also need to serve as the Big 12's voice if he wants to get anything done and move forward from Thursday's debacle.

The next step is painfully obvious. The Big 12 must have equal revenue sharing if it's going to move forward and not be seen as (or be) dysfunctional, which Thursday night's debacle proved.

Every other league shares its revenue equally. The past 18 months have provided a long enough case study to show that doing otherwise does not work.

Oklahoma made it clear that it's willing to sacrifice its bigger share to fight that battle.

"Would equal distribution mean a financial contribution for the good of the conference? Yes. Would we be willing to do so? Yes," Boren said.

On Wednesday, Dodds told reporters that Texas is committed to equal revenue sharing for Tier 1 and Tier 2 media rights.

But for now, forget revenue sharing, expansion, media rights or anything else on the horizon for the Big 12.

The conference won't move forward until it can settle its biggest and most difficult opponent: Itself.

Big 12 headed for binding TV rights

September, 22, 2011
9/22/11
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Lots to get to on the blog tonight.

First off, you can read our news story on tonight's news conference at Oklahoma. Here's an update of what was decided.

More on the way later tonight.

Big 12 headed for binding TV rights

The Big 12's presidents agreed to grant their television rights to the conference for six years, Oklahoma president David Boren said at a news conference on Thursday. Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton said at a news conference also on Thursday night that the agreement was not official, and the league had agreed to pursue such binds.

A source at Missouri confirmed to ESPN.com that they were told "there was no agreement, only an agreement to work toward that as a potential outcome."

The Big 12 signed a 13-year, $1.1 billion deal with Fox Sports last summer for Tier 2 rights and the Tier 1 rights for ESPN/ABC are up for renewal in five years. By signing away the media rights to the conference, any team that left the conference during that period would offer no television revenue to a prospective new league. Any television revenue produced by that team would go to the Big 12.

"We felt that we needed a lot more than an expression of solidarity," Boren said, referencing "unequivocal commitments" that held the Big 12 together in 2010, when the Big 12 last faced near extinction. "It was a very important item to show we mean business about staying together."

Boren added: "That grant of rights really has teeth in it, because when you've granted your rights, it's very unlikely that a member would receive an invitation to another conference."

Texas A&M still headed to the SEC

Tonight's agreement has had no effect on the Texas A&M and its intended departure to the SEC.

Boren said Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was on the teleconference, but was careful to note that it was "highly likely" that the Aggies would continue to chart their intended course for the SEC. Boren also said the league would not give up on convincing Texas A&M to stay until the Aggies became official members of the SEC.

The league's presidents did not discuss waiving rights to legal action that would allow Texas A&M to continue with its intended move to the SEC after the conference's presidents voted to accept them on the condition that each Big 12 team waive those legal rights.

“Another key to Big 12 stability will be for the league to assist Texas A&M with our departure," Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook told the San Antonio Express-News.

New interim commissioner officially appointed

Dan Beebe is out, and Chuck Neinas is in. Neinas has dealt with scores of athletic departments around the country, and recommended more than half of the athletic directors in the Big 12 to the administrations in their current schools. Boren lauded Neinas as a figure respected around the country.

Neinas
Neinas
Neinas will take over only as interim commissioner, though. He is not a candidate for the permanent job, which may take a "few months" to fill, Boren said, though he established no concrete timeline for the hire.

"We needed someone to lead us through a healing process," Boren said of Neinas. "There's no one better to do that."

Expansion has been re-opened

While the Big 12 nearly broke apart, the efforts of an expansion committee were obviously halted. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds are on the committee, which has been re-activated.

The league doesn't know if it will expand to 10 or 12 teams, but will do its "due diligence" and is open to both.

I'd expect negotiations with BYU to be re-opened, and for the Big 12 to seriously talk with remaining teams in the Big East like West Virginia and Louisville, but also seriously talk to schools closer to the Big 12 footprint, like TCU or Houston.

Nothing's off the table yet, though. As it should be this early in the process.

Boren refused to name any names or publish any list of prospective members.

"We want anybody we look at for expansion to know they were our first choice," Boren said.

Big 12 committee formed

This is also an important development. Chairman of the board of directors Brady Deaton is putting together a "committee" to handle a variety of tasks facing the Big 12 currently.

For now, no change in revenue sharing has been enacted, but if it's going to happen, it will be explored by this committee.

Deaton is expected to put it together by the end of the day on Friday.

The league agreed not to air grievances with others in the league publicly, which is necessary for the appearance of stability. It also agreed that any disagreements would be settled privately through the multi-purpose committee that Boren called a "special working group."

Concessions by Texas and Oklahoma?

It's clear so far that Texas and Oklahoma have and are willing to give on some issues. Oklahoma got its wish with Beebe's ouster and a commitment with the media rights that would ensure stability, but Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told local media on Wednesday that he did not want to sign over media rights.

Judging by Boren's comments, that stance has softened. Maybe he was leveraged into it, or maybe it was a measure of good faith. Either way, it looked like it happened.

Oklahoma has also made it clear that it would not stand in the way of equal revenue sharing. The Sooners, as one of the Big 12's top earners, would get less money in that agreement.

"Would equal distribution mean a financial contribution for good of the conference? Yes. Would we be willing to do so? Yes," Boren said. "We would hope that wouldn’t occur overnight."

Boren said he hoped such a plan would be fazed in slowly.

As for Texas? Maybe we'll hear from them soon.

Lots more coming on the blog tonight. Stay tuned.
The Big 12 made the announcement official Wednesday afternoon: It has signed a 13-year deal with Fox Sports. The league wouldn't confirm the conditions of the deal, but both the Sports Business Journal and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal confirmed the details.
  • $90 million annually, more than four times the $20 million Fox Sports pays now
  • Minimum 40 games each year, and commissioner Dan Beebe said every Big 12 home game will now be televised
  • The 13-year deal, worth $1.17 billion, goes into effect beginning with the 2012-13 school year

Which broaches two big questions:
  • What does this do for the Big 12's long-term stability?
  • Why is Fox paying so much more money for fewer teams and fewer nationally relevant games without Nebraska as a Big 12 member?

Let's tackle the first.

I've been moderately convinced over the past few months about the Big 12's stability, but now I'm completely sold. Barring further realignment developments, the Big 12 is stable. The league's members agreed unanimously to the deal, and in signing it, essentially put action to words written over the past summer.

"Today's announcement really validates why our media partners conveyed to us and encouraged us to stay together and committed to what we were doing," Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castliglione said. "Through this agreement, the Big 12 institutions will generate per-member revenues at the highest levels in college athletics."

Money heals plenty of wounds, and it looks like the Big 12 has plenty now.

Everyone in the league has to be cautious of landscape shifts, and the two most obvious cases would be Texas A&M being invited to join the SEC or Missouri invited to join the Big Ten. Notre Dame could force the Big Ten's hand, but there's no reason to believe that will happen.

Texas, with its now-boosted Big 12 conference revenue, and soon to come additional revenue from the Longhorn Network in conjunction with ESPN, isn't going anywhere. Other than Notre Dame ushering in an era of superconferences (Again: very, very doubtful), there's not a lot of dominoes in place that would cause the Big 12 to eventually fall.

Members can complain about Texas' money all they want. But it's not like Texas didn't earn it by winning and building a big-time program, and there's little anyone else in the Big 12 can do to change it.

For now, the Big 12 looks secure, and Fox Sports' clear commitment to the league and members' commitments to each other are the biggest reasons why.

So the other question: Why is Fox willing to pay more for fewer teams and a league without one of its best programs? Fox, it appears, is trying to get serious about college sports.

"College sports haven't been appropriately valued," Beebe said. "Based upon the viewership and meaning to cable networks and the passion, the meaning, college football has only grown in terms of its support at the gates and on TV and in the age of recordable TV, recordable content, sports don't lend itself to that. From our viewpoint, that's one of the determining factors. I'd like to think it's because of my charm, but that probably isn't the only factor here."

That sentiment is entirely accurate. Faithful followers of the blog may note my television quotes at the top of links posts. I'd say I watch my fair share of TV shows. I haven't watched a show live in years. That's solely because of DVR and there's no question television is trending that way. Sports, however? I can't recall the last time I watched one on delay. Considering how many people enjoy watching games and also keeping an eye on Twitter, doing so these days is near impossible and not nearly as enjoyable. The translation: Not as many eyes are on commercials during non-sporting events, rendering those spots less valuable. As such, market demand means commercial spots during sporting events, especially those with the passion and followings of college football, are much more valuable.

If college sports have truly been undervalued, they would have only been more so in the future. Fox is seeking to change that, and the Big 12, it would appear, is ahead of the curve in making sure college sports are fairly compensated for what they provide networks.

In short, Fox will have the rights to broadcast other sports online and be able to profit off advertising for those productions.

"When you look at the transition that we're all going through in this video world, sports is one of the only things that drives the adaptation of technology," said Fox president Randy Freer. "Sports rights are still somewhat manageable as it relates to your ability to put content out digitally. I think we're all making a bet on the future, where we believe that college sports and sports in general is one of the leading rights generating large audiences in a way that advertisers can connect with. ... That's what you're seeing drive up college sports' cost to the values where they are today."

The Big 12, it would seem, looks like a bit of a trailblazer with this deal, which could provide another windfall for the Pac-12, which is set to negotiate with Fox for its first-tier rights soon.

Other notes and tidbits from the teleconference:
  • Once again, no, the Big 12 is not exploring expansion, and has no plans to do so. It's been, by far, the question I've been asked the most over the past year, and the answer hasn't changed. In addition, they believe the lack of a championship game will be advantageous in the future. "We carefully considered all options, and I believe in the long term, we're going to be in the situation we're in right now," Beebe said. "The football championship game has always been somewhat controversial, and in fact, our teams were prevented from playing in the national championship three times when we've already tied for the most number of appearances in the national championship."
  • As for the $20 million previously promised to Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma? The league should have plenty of money to cover that, as we previously talked about on the blog. "As much as we can project, with the revenue that is coming in, it looks like that will make that issue moot in 2012 and beyond," Beebe said.
  • Could teams in the future leave? "Well, we still have significant withdrawal provisions that provided for one of the most historic withdrawal fees in any conference realignment situation. We'll take a look at all of that, but I don't want to get caught up in that discussion in announcing a television agreement." I've seen reports elsewhere that these numbers went up, but Beebe's comments don't at all reflect that. The money withheld from Colorado and Nebraska (16.1 million total) is already historic. When Beebe used that term, he was referencing last year's happenings, not any changes made to the policy since then.
  • ESPN still holds the first-tier rights to Big 12 games, meaning the biggest games in the conference. Fox is open to changing that when ESPN's deal with the Big 12 expires in 2015-16.
  • Unequal revenue distribution (way, way, way overblown in fans' minds, in my opinion) will remain unchanged. "We don't anticipate a change. We have a formula that's clear and specific," Beebe said. "This agreement is a little different, so we've got to get clarity on the application of the rules to this agreement, but it will work through that."
Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton didn't learn of Colorado's move to the Pac-10 until just before meeting with the board of curators for lunch, but the first thing he did was call Texas president Bill Powers, according to his comments to reporters earlier this morning.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

They’re a member of the Big 12, so the first thing I did was [pick] up the phone and call [Texas president] Bill Powers because right now he’s in the chair role of the Big 12,” Deaton said before being whisked away by handlers. “I wanted to chat with him about the implications of that.”

Deaton later told reporters "anything could happen" and that "we're working hard to hang together and move forward."

Missouri has yet to receive an official invitation from the Big Ten to apply, and if the Big 12 South -- minus Baylor -- makes a move to the Pac-10, the Tigers being left outside a conference with an automatic BCS bid is looking like a real possibility.

Apparently, Deaton may have exhausted his reservoir of reminders that Missouri was a proud member of the Big 12 during last week's meetings.
Unlike the Big Ten, the main course at this week's Big 12 spring meetings is on the menu. Expansion was discussed informally at last month's Big Ten spring meetings, but the issue will come up during daily meetings on Thursday.

Likely Big Ten targets Missouri and Nebraska will be in the spotlight, with Colorado and Texas possibly feeling pressure to make commitments -- or not -- to the Big 12 as well.

“It’s an incredible time nationally,” Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton told the Kansas City Star. “Everybody is concerned about that. It will be a topic of discussion.”

But no one's quite sure how hard commissioner Dan Beebe will push, and those talking are keeping their answers quiet.

“I doubt if I would put whatever message I have in the paper,” Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne told the Lincoln Journal Star. “I really don’t have a particular agenda. I’ll certainly be interested in what people have to say. I’ll listen very carefully. I’m probably going to listen more than I’m going to do a great deal of speaking."

Drama could emerge from attempts to set a date -- perhaps this week but much more likely some time before the season begins -- for programs to commit to the conference. The main point Beebe has been trying to get across: He's not operating on the Big Ten's schedule, which could make a formal move toward expansion as early as December. He wants control, and he'll try to grab it this week with possible increased monetary penalties for teams that wish to leave the conference. Without two-year notice, schools lose 80 percent of their revenue from the conference, and the percentage lost rises as the amount of notice given shrinks. Any change to that will have to be approved by the conference's board of directors, but schools looking elsewhere might not appreciate the sudden rule change.

I'm heading to Kansas City this afternoon, making my way to the Intercontinental Hotel in the Country Club Plaza on Wednesday morning, well before the big (possible) fireworks.

But expansion isn't the only issue that could be resolved this week. Television contracts and bowl agreements will be part of those expansion conversations, but the location of the Big 12 title game will likely be finalized this week.

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will host this year's game, and looks close to a lock to host the 2011, 2012 and 2013 games. Beebe has been given clearance to negotiate the terms of a contract with the stadium brass, according to Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman. It's been written about here before, but making that move could lead to Arlington hosting the game permanently.

An Arlington location obviously favors the South teams that, by the way, enter 2010 with a 10-4 record in championship games. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini told the Journal Star he, along with Osborne, favors rotating the site. Pelini also said he didn't believe Texas had a competitive advantage in last year's game, won by the Longhorns, 13-12 in the first-ever championship game at Cowboys Stadium.

So stay tuned through the rest of the week. It could be a historic one for the conference, and possibly the rest of college football.

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