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This is probably the news that Missouri and Kansas fans wanted to hear as a last resort. The Mountain West Conference has apparently come calling.
Mac Engel of the Forth Worst Star-Telegram reports the MWC -- in an effort to raise its national profile and secure an automatic BCS-bid -- is setting its sights on Big 12 leftovers Kansas and Missouri. Per the report, Kansas State would be an option but Baylor would not.
There have been discussions and scenarios involving 12, 14 or 16 schools in the MWC, conference championship games and more. It all depends on whether teams such as Missouri, Kansas and the others can't find a conference they like better.
Adding Kansas or Missouri would only further enhance the MWC's attempt to earn an automatic BCS bid.
It's possible Kansas and Missouri are hoping for an invite to a bigger conference. Missouri likely hopes to somehow secure a Big Ten bid while Kansas has been connected to the Pac-10 as a possibility. Other rumors are floating around connecting those schools to just about every conference in the country.
The MWC rumor was what we've been hearing with Kansas and Missouri. They want to be the next BCS conference and securing Kansas and Missouri would be a big step in doing so.
Missouri AD Mike Alden released a statement on Friday evening regarding the departures of Colorado and Nebraska from the Big 12 conference.
Dear Tiger Nation,
By now I'm sure you have learned of the departure of the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska from the Big 12 Conference. There is no question that these moves are very impactful on our league. These are decisions by individual institutions following invitations and applications with the Pac-10 and the Big 10 Conferences. We've enjoyed longstanding relationships with both schools, and wish them nothing but the best in their future homes.
We are working diligently to maintain the long-term viability of the Big 12 Conference. Our focus has always been on our core values, and it will continue to remain as such. We have been open, honest, accessible and professional throughout these shifting landscapes. We will always handle ourselves in a professional manner. We are a first-class institution and a first-class athletic program.
We certainly understand the angst that this recent news has caused among our supporters. Please be confident that we are working tirelessly for the benefit of the University, for the Tigers and for the state of Missouri. When "the dust settles," Mizzou will be in a strong position nationally. We don't know the timeline of all of these activities, so your patience and commitment is appreciated. Many will look at this time as a challenge, but we will look at it as an unbelievable opportunity.
Thank you for your dedication to Mizzou. We will keep you informed of developments whenever we're able.
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe said on Friday that "it was his understanding" that the Big Ten was not interested in any more Big 12 schools as it concerns expansion.
This would be awful news for Missouri, who has yet to land in a new conference once the Big 12 crumbles with four Big 12 South schools soon jumping to the Pac-10. Missouri would really be in trouble finding a new conference -- the Big East maybe? -- and their next step would be an unknown.
The good news for Mizzou fans who want an invite to the Big Ten: This is Dan Beebe we're talking about.
This is the man responsible for essentially the destruction of the Big 12. The man responsible for TV deals that run seven years into the future and are worth pennies compared to other major conferences. He's the commissioner of the conference, so he should know but he's made so many mistakes throughout this process that past history has clearly demonstrated you can not take him at his word.
The future certainly isn't bright, Mizzou fans, but don't take Dan Beebe's word for it.
As if anyone knows what's going on anymore. From the Columbia Missourian:
The Sunday meeting will be closed and may include "confidential or privileged communications with counsel and sealed bids and related documents, sealed proposals and related documents or documents related to a negotiated contract," according to a news release.
The meeting will begin at 8:00 PM and some members will participate via teleconference.
The board has already had meetings on Thursday and Friday discussing the future of Missouri and the Big 12.
For more on MU, check out SB Nation's Rock M Nation.
The Big Ten has approved Nebraska and officially welcomed them as the 12th member of the Big Ten.
The official start date for the Huskers: July 1, 2011.
Interesting note: Early reports regarding the four Big 12 south teams that are expected to jump ship to the Pac 10 indicate that they want to start in 2012.
Could make for an awkward year.
If you're not aware, Nebraska actually has to apply for acceptance into the Big Ten. Of course, they wouldn't apply if it weren't already a done deal.
Speaking to the media following the Nebraska Regents meeting, Chancellor Harvey Perlman said:
"If the Big Ten accepts, it would be our hope to begin competitive integration in 2011 and play one more season in the Big 12."
One more year of the Big 12. Wow.
From easily the most-informed person regarding conference expansion, Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com:
Sources say Nebraska will announce it's move to the Big Ten at news conference after regents meeting, roughly 5 pm today.
We'll be waiting for the announcement.
On Thursday, Nebraska officials denied reports that they were joining the Big Ten with a lengthy explanation of why the reports weren't true.
And of course on Friday Nebraska joined the Big Ten, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The Herald reports the Nebraska regents are still in a closed-door meeting but the verdict is in: They're Big Ten bound.
This is what we thought would happen. Colorado was the first domino to fall in the Big 12 but Nebraska is the biggest. Their departure means, according to reports, that at least four members of the Big 12 South -- Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State -- will likely accept an invitation to join the Pac 10.
This would essentially kill the Big 12 leaving the following schools without a conference: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State.
Reports have indicated the Jayhawks may have an outside shot at an invitation to the Pac 10. Other reports are still keeping the door open for Mizzou to the Big Ten.
Everyone else? Yeah, they're in trouble.
KCTV-5, the local CBS affiliate here in Kansas City, is reporting that "high-level sources" have told the station that the head of a television network has told the Big 12 they would like to create the Big 12/Pac 10 Network and that the next TV deal would be lucrative enough to keep the Big 12 together.
Even though this report is coming from the same station that seemingly erroneously reported that Texas and Texas A&M were "petitioning" the Big 10 (they've backed off the word "petition" in their report since originally publishing the story), it involves money and makes sense.
We know conference expansion is all about the money so I'm willing to entertain this report.
The Big 12 currently has a deal with ABC that runs through 2016 and is worth $480 million. They've also got $78 million through 2012 with Fox Sports Network.
How does that compare to the other conferences? Not very good.
In 2008, the SEC signed a 12-year, $2.25 billion deal with ESPN/ABC and has a 15-year, $825 million agreement with CBS. Each SEC's school reportedly receives around $15-17 million per year from the television contracts.
The Big Ten has a 10-year, $1 billion deal with ESPN/ABC and a 25-year, $2.8 billion deal with the Big Ten Network. Fox Sports owns a 49 percent stake in the Big Ten network and would likely want a similar deal with the Big 12 and Pac-10, KCTV5's sources said.
We'll see how this one turns out.
The prevailing thought is that Nebraska will announce on Friday their departure for the Big 10 and at least four more Big 12 schools will bolt for the Pac 10 essentially killing off the Big 12.
And MU isn't talking much. Sure, a couple of officials spoke to the media on Thursday evening but if all they knew was the above speculation, wouldn't they be running around like chickens with their heads cut off? Kansas is clearly expressing major concern for their future.
What does MU know?
After talking to various folks close to the athletic department, the feeling in Columbia is that they'll be fine. Maybe it's blind optimism, Bill Self-style, or maybe it's based on conversations with others.
But MU is confident they'll come out of this mess OK.
Bill Self held a press conference Thursday evening regarding the recent Big 12 expansion talks. Self was his usual optimistic self making Kansas fans feel better about their situation.
Unfortunately, Self's optimism is blinding and not based on a lot of facts (which admittedly are few and far between at this point).
“From my vantage point, there’s not an option,” he said of landing in a big-time conference. “There are absolutely no other options. You’ve got to keep your doors open, but this university has too much to sell to rush into doing something just to find a home, because in our opinion, the aftershock or the trickle-down hasn’t even begun to occur.”
I agree that KU's basketball program should be worth a lot. Frankly, it might be the best thing Kansas City as a whole has going for it. Unfortunately, basketball isn't the "driving buggy" here, as Self would say. It's football. And Kansas' football program does not have much of a reputation nationally. It does not have "much to sell".
So, really, there's not much of a reason to be so optimistic. It's past that point. I would argue it's time to start being real (Real World!).
“We are at the first level of it,” Self said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen on the second level, third level, fourth level, fifth level. What’s the Big Ten going to go to? Are they going to 12? Are they going to 16? Certain leagues may not be as open to expansion, unless maybe another league does something to kind of force their hand.”
Maybe Self is blindingly optimistic because he understands that if KU does not end up in a BCS league that his recruiting power would be significantly hampered. This is a major point in his career.
Missouri officials, including Chancellor Brady Deaton and System President Gary Forsee, had a few non-breaking comments on the Big 12 and Big Ten expansion situations currently unfolding.
One comment that struck me was that both officials were "clearly bothered" by the fact that quite a few folks are under the impression that MU started this mess.
Did they? Depends on your interpretation. We'll dive into that once we figure out what will or will not happen with the Big -12
Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune was there to capture what both Missouri officials had to say.
MU Chancellor Deaton just met with reporters, nothing of great substance, clearly bothered by perception that MU started Big 12 chaos
Chancellor Deaton on anti-Mizzou slant coming from Big 12 South land: "Gosh, I would never begin to try and explain that."
Any clarity for MU by tomorrow? Deaton: "That would be something I’d be afraid to say given all we’re hearing on a moment-to-moment basis."
UM System Prez Gary Forsee on Big 12: "I don't think we have to justify our loyalty. That's been in place for 104 years."
Nothing ground breaking but interesting nonetheless.
To see what Mizzou fans are saying, check out SB Nation's Rock M Nation.
I came across an interesting article by a contributor at SB Nation's Rock M Nation. The article brings up some good points and wants to know: Why was Nebraska invited to the Big Ten and not Missouri?
As I understand it (and granted, I have not researched it that thoroughly), Missouri has an edge in academics, overall athletic department success (i.e. in recent years, Missouri football + basketball trumps Nebraska football + basketball, and Mizzou has found success in "non-revenue sports" such as gymnastics, wrestling, women's soccer, softball and baseball), scholar-athletes (Mizzou was just ranked second in APR in the Big 12, behind only Texas) and media markets (St. Louis/Kansas City, even with KC in decline, should trump Omaha/Lincoln). Granted, I'm biased, and I could very well by underestimating the national appeal of the Cornhusker football as well as overestimating Missouri's case for candidacy, but if that's the case, what am I missing?
The answer is rather simple: Money.
Nebraska -- essentially because of their football team -- can bring in more dollars to the conference. Their football brand is among tops in the country and instantly upgrades the profile of the conference. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Nebraska fans travel so well.
This is one part of the process where the conferences do care about tradition.
Of course, the way information is flowing in all this conference expansion talk, Nebraska's invite will never happen and both Kansas and Missouri will head to the Big Ten. Hey, crazier things have been reported.
Predictably, Nebraska officials are denying that they've accepted an invitation to the Big Ten, according to a statement posted on their website.
"A report being circulated this afternoon among sports media stating that the University of Nebraska Board of Regents 'met informally' today and have 'agreed to move to the Big Ten' is not accurate. Members of the Board's executive committee met via conference call to discuss the agenda for Friday's meeting. Such meetings routinely take place prior to Board meetings. At its meeting on Friday, the Board will be briefed on UNL athletic conference alignment and consider a resolution. No action was taken during today's conference call, and none will be taken prior to Friday's meeting."
"First of all, there are several factual errors. No. 1, there’s been no vote by the board at all. No. 2, as I understand it, there are no invitations that are extended. You decide if you wish to make an application and then they react to your application.
"And I heard that there were reports that Tom Osborne had advised all of his staff that it was a done deal. You can talk to Tom and see what his comment is. I would be immensely surprised if that was the case, because as I said there’s been no vote by the board and no formal decision.”
"No action was taken during today's conference call, and none will be taken prior to Friday's meeting"....and no one said action had been taken. The report was that the Regents had discussed and the feeling coming out of the meeting was that they would move to the Big Ten.
Then the report goes on to refute that "there are no invitations" and "there's been not vote by the board"....again, that's not what the reports are stating. Nebraska is issuing denials to itself.
You know something's fishy when Nebraska won't address the real scope of the reports instead issuing non-denial denials.
We're short on details here but 610 Sports' Bob Fescoe reports that Kansas may have a backup plan:
KU met with the Big East today at Lawrence Country Club
Fescoe is a KU grad so he likely has some connections there.
He didn't offer up any details but the Big East would be a superior option to the Mountain West or any other non-BCS conference.
Kansas coach Bill Self held court with the media following Wednesday's scrimmage and spoke frankly regarding the conference expansion that's going on right now. Self's words came before the reports of the Pac 10 poaching six Big 12 teams.
At one point, a reporter brought up the reports that Nebraska would be leaving for the Big Ten and Self said, "I hope what you're saying is not true. We need Nebraska."
He went on to say that Nebraska wouldn't mean the end of the Big 12 -- it wouldn't help -- but he didn't think it would be the end of it.
If it doesn't stay intact, I think we'll be fine, but there is some serious nervousness with me personally that we could potentially be left behind then the landscape of our athletic department changes overnight. That's the reality of it. I don't believe that would happen but we have to be prepared to fight if it does happen.
"Serious nervousness" is the right phrase. Kansas is in serious trouble if the Pac 10 and Big Ten reports end up being accurate. Kansas is one of the teams that would be hurt the most.
Self then acknowledged that football is the real driving force behind this. Football is the real money maker in any major school -- yes, even a school like Kansas with a rich basketball tradition.
I don't know if it surprises me because I don't think this has anything to do with the basketball deal. I think football is driving the buggy on this moreso than any other sport. The other things that go along with that -- television homes and things like that. I've done my research, we have 2.8 million people in this state that I would guess at least 75% of those people support in some way Kansas State or Kansas. So you're talking about two million people that, in some way, the way they look at things will be altered.
For more on the Jayhawks, check out SB Nation's Rock Chalk Talk.
Kansas and Kansas State were expected to be -- to put it bluntly -- screwed. And it appears they will be. Missouri, however, was expected to garner an invite to the Big Ten.
According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, that may not be the case. He reports the Big Ten is currently giving Mizzou the "cold shoulder" and that they're not on the Big Ten's top three wish list, which includes -- in order -- Notre Dame, Nebraska and Rutgers/Maryland.
Brown reports that Missouri's relationship with the Big-12 is "beyond repair" but that likely doesn't matter much considering reports are indicating that the Big-12 is essentially dead.
What's next for Mizzou? They appear to be the only ones remaining with a shot at an invite to another major conference (Sorry, KU and KSU -- the Mountain West doesn't count).
Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com reports that the Nebraska regents have "informally" agreed to leave the Big-12 for the Big Ten.
Per Brown, an official announcement will come on Friday.
This news -- if accurate -- is the big one everyone has been waiting for. Nebraska essentially holds the key to the future of the Big-12. By leaving, this opens the door for the Pac-10 to potentially poach six members of the Big-12.
It also means that -- if the Pac-10 deal goes through -- schools like Kansas and Kansas State would likely be without a home, assuming the Big-12 crumbles.
No word yet on what Missouri will do. There are reports that they would leave the Big-12 for the Big Ten but as best we can tell, there's no formal invitation at this point.
The rumor mill is heating up. A report from Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald indicates that Nebraska could be headed for the Big Ten as early as Friday.
An executive at a Big 12 school relayed to The World-Herald on Tuesday that he expects Nebraska to become a member of the Big Ten as early as Friday.
NU Chancellor Harvey Perlman has declined all interviews about conference realignment and expansion. He is expected to address the topic with the Board of Regents at its Friday meeting in Lincoln.
Sources from two other Big 12 schools tell the World-Herald that their ADs have told them to expect an announcement -- one way or the other -- by the end of the week.
If Nebraska bolts, then the Big 12 will likely start to crumble.
An early guess at what this means: Missouri would follow suit and join the Big Ten (assuming Notre Dame doesn't) and the entire Big 12 South could join the Pac-10. That would leave Kansas and Kansas State without a home.
The rumor mill has been churning heavily in recent weeks and it appears there will be some actual news by week's end.
We passed along the story of Kansas Chancellor Bernadatte Gray-Little calling both Nebraska and Missouri and, as some fans have put it, "begging" them to stay in the Big-12.
So how do Kansas fans feel about their school "begging" Nebraska and Missouri to stick around? Uh, well, read this account from SB Nation's Rock Chalk Talk:
The only way I can properly describe this feeling, as a KU fan, is a one-two punch of one-person yanking your shorts down and another hitting you squarely in the groin with a broom handle...a combination of pain and humiliation that only could come from ASKING MIZZOU FOR HELP.
There's a Missouri fan here someplace laughing. Somehow I think if their roles were reversed, Mizzou's reaction wouldn't be much different.
Check out what all the KU fans are saying over at Rock Chalk Talk.
Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told the Associated Press in an interview that she called Nebraska Chancelor Harvey Perlman urging him not to move to the Big Ten. The development doesn't come as a huge surprise considering Kansas looks to be the one most affected by expansion.
Little also said she planned to call Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton as well.
If the Big Ten brings in Missouri and Nebraska, that would likely prompt six more Big 12 schools to jump ship to the Pac-10 leaving Kansas among four teams without a conference.
So what would happen to Kansas in the event the Big Ten and Pac-10 purge the Big 12?
"Obviously, that would be a serious disappointment to our community, whether you're talking about students or alumni or other supporters of athletics," said Gray-Little. "Athletics are important to a university. Athletics helps develop friendships and allegiances to the university."
Translation: We'd lose a lot of money.
Gray-Little indicated that she didn't get word from Perlman on which way Nebraska was heading at this point.
Suffice to say, Kansas is aware of the damage any of this expansion would do to their school.
Recently, KCTV-5's Neal Jones said after speaking with a Big Ten administrator that the interest of the Big-10 in Missouri may be overblown by the media.
Here's a possible reason why: The Big Ten would prefer to add Notre Dame to it's line-up.
The snag in any movement is that the Big Ten has not made an offer to Nebraska and/or Missouri because it is likely Notre Dame is still in the mix to join the league. Notre Dame officials have repeatedly said their desire is to stay independent in football but have left the door open in case of seismic shifts in conference realignment. Until discussions between the league and Notre Dame are completely dead, it is probably that the Big Ten won't officially reach out to anyone -- Nebraska, Missouri, Rutgers or any of the other rumored expansion candidates.
That means Missouri and Nebraska are actually the fallback plan in the event Notre Dame doesn't bite.
Taking that into account, how then can either school give the Big-12 an announcement on their future with the conference by Friday? The Big Ten is at least months away from making a decision.
In short, they can't. And the Big-12 likely thinks that, as well, which is the reason they did it. Until Missouri and/or Nebraska gets that invite, the Big-12 holds all the cards.
Unless they, you know, get plucked by the Pac-10.
The Big Ten said in December they were contemplating another addition to the conference and that the process could take "12-18 months."
Missouri and Nebraska are rumored to be two of the teams they're targeting. The problem, according to reports, is that the Big-12 is making Mizzou and Nebraska come up with a decision on their future without fully knowing whether they'll receive an invite to the Big Ten.
Because of that -- and the swift moving rumor mill regarding expansion talk -- an official from one of the members of the Big Ten has hinted at that "12-18 month" time-line being moved up.
“Our announcement in December has caused institutions to consider their future and conferences to consider their future,” said Michigan State president Lou Anna K. Simon, the chair of the Big Ten’s council of presidents/chancellors. “That has had an impact on our deliberations. … We had targeted a timeline that was as long as 18 months. It’s possible that the timeline may be altered, but not the process. The actions of others are obviously important to us and they impact us, but the process is as we’ve outlined it.”
The Big Ten has given the perception that they're dragging their feet on this. With the talk of the Pac-10 targeting half of the Big-12, they understand a decision needs to probably be made sooner rather than later.
Whether the Big Ten actually does move up that time-line isn't quite known.
Over the weekend, a report surfaced that the Big-12 had given Missouri and Nebraska a Friday deadline to determine whether they were going to leave the Big-12 or not. If they left the Big-12, they would be banking on receiving an invite to the Big Ten conference -- an invite that reportedly hasn't come yet.
Both Mizzou and Nebraska officials aren't confirming nor denying the reports.
When contacted about the issue, Don Walsworth, the former head of the MU Board of Curators, said he was unaware of any ultimatum but that he couldn’t say whether there was one.
"I really don’t know what the final parameters are,” Tom Osborne told a Nebraska newspaper. “I really can’t comment. The agreement when I left (the Big 12 meetings) Thursday was that (conference commissioner) Dan Beebe and (Texas president) William Powers would do the speaking.”
Think about it this way: The deadline is putting Missouri and Nebraska in a tough position considering they reportedly have yet to receive a formal offer for the Big Ten. So if there wasn't a deadline, wouldn't you think both MU and NU officials would be screaming that from the rooftops?
For more on a Missouri perspective of things, check out SB Nation's Rock M Nation.
Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports had an interesting tweet that, if accurate, adds yet another wrinkle to all the talk of expansion.
Kansas and Kansas State must stay together according to state law. Just one more bizarre twist in the ridiculousness of expansion
This is interesting (and KU and KSU fans are probably telling the other “You’re holding us down”) but it doesn’t sound like it will change much. Recently, Dan Lykins of the Kansas Board of Regents said this about the KU/KSU relationship:
“KU and K-State will always be in the same conference together,” Lykins said. “There’s not going to be a split.”
Later, Wetzel retracted (and deleted) his tweet:
On KU, KSU deal. Was told by someone who would know. Obv I’m not an expert in Kansas law, so shouldn’t have tweeted it.
But I think the state law may not matter. It sounds like KU officials, who may have more leverage in this situation, want to stay with KSU.
I wonder how KU and KSU fans will spin this. KU probably tells KSU they’re holding them down.
The most common question regarding conference expansion is a simple one: Why?
Well, it's simple really.
Big-12 teams last year, including Missouri, made between $7-10 million last year under their current television deal. That number is drastically lower than some of their BCS conference counterparts.
The Big-10, who is reportedly courting Missouri, handed out $22 million to each of its member teams last year.
So if you're wondering why Missouri is considering this move, despite being a staple in the Big-8/Big-12 for years, that's your answer.
The Big-10 has a television network that allows it to generate more profits than the Big-12. Missouri knows that if they leave, they'll be raking in 2-3 times as much money, which is something that they would seemingly have to do for both athletic and academic reasons.
Big-12 Commissioner Dan Beebe will tell you that lucrative contract extensions with FOX and ESPN are coming. And he's right. However, what he has going against him is that the most lucrative contract -- the one with ESPN -- runs through the 2015-2016 season. That means for another five years, at least, the Big-12 member payouts would be drastically less than the Big-10 and other conferences.
Add in the fact that the Big-10 is a better academic conference than then Big-12, and Missouri's decision should be easy.
The rumors of conference expansion have read like a gossip magazine. Missouri has been linked most often to the Big-10. The Texas schools have reportedly been invited to the Pac-10. Kansas may be left out in the cold and Kansas State hopes to be a package deal with their Kansas counterpart.
Apparently, the Big-12 wants to put the gossip mags to rest.
According to the Austin American Statesman, Big-12 officials told Missouri and Nebraska they have until Friday to decide if they're going to bolt for the Big-10. Other reports indicate the deadline may spill into the following week.
Either way, the Big-12 wants to know their plans.
Missouri and Nebraska's decision -- if they decide to leave the Big-12 -- will dramatically impact the conference formerly known as the Big-8. Not only would it eliminate the Big-12 Championship game -- a major money-maker for the conference -- but it would also seemingly eliminate some of the longest rivalries in the history of college sports.
The Big-10 has motivation to bring in Nebraska and Missouri. With Nebraska, the Big-10 would be getting one of the most historic football franchises as well as one of the top fanbases in all of college sports. Meanwhile, a Missouri invite would allow the Big-10 to expand it's television coverage to the St. Louis and Kansas City markets.
The rumors have been flowing without any end in sight -- until now.
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