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Conference Rumor Du Jour: The First Shoe Falls, Pac-10 Set to Extend Invites

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Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is looking to make a splash. Image via <a href="http://blog.oregonlive.com/pac10/2009/03/large_LaScott.jpg">blog.oregonlive.com</a>
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is looking to make a splash. Image via blog.oregonlive.com

Conference expansion has been a favorite topic around here for awhile, probably because Maryland is playing a quiet role and there's nothing else to talk about. The awful possibility that was floating around in the back of my mind was that this entire situation, which was seemingly dependent on the Big Ten, would be undecided for over another year.

But we might be saved from 18 months of rumors and uncertainty at the expense of even more. That's because the Pac-10, not the Big Ten, have taken the first move toward conference supremacy:

[I]t appears the Pac-10, which has its meetings in San Francisco starting this weekend, is prepared to make a bold move and invite Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado to join its league, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

It's certainly an interesting potential dynamic; the Big 12 is a more profitable league right now, but the Pac-10 isn't going to die, while the Big 12 might. If Missouri and Nebraska jump ship for the Big Ten, this would make a lot of sense.

Either way, if true this has to accelerate everyone's timetable. If an invitation is extended to Texas from the Pac-10, you'd imagine the Big Ten may extend one as well, and then force them to choose. As long as Notre Dame leans toward remaining independent, Texas is probably the biggest prize the Big Ten could grab, and probably the only one that could make expansion an undoubtable success.

You also have to imagine that Missouri and Nebraska would do their best to make themselves attractive to the Big Ten in that situation, as they'd be sitting alone in a dead conference.

It could get interesting if Notre Dame turns the Big Ten down and Texas goes to the Pac-10. Then any school the Big Ten adds (Syracuse, Maryland, Rutgers) will more likely detract from the share of revenue than increase it. At the same time, they would almost certainly need to expand to keep the Pac-10 from dominating the landscape of college athletics with their superconference.

Bu it all comes back to, as it always does, just how true this entire thing is. These rumors have been fabulously wrong before (actually, almost always) so what's to stop this one? Still, let's keep an eye on it.

Who would've thought that the Big 12 could die before the Big East?