Big 12 sets deadline for Big Ten, Pac-10’s given permission to seek expansion

Jordan Wickstrom

After months of speculation, all Big 12 schools may finally receive some answers regarding their future.

A few days after last week’s Big 12 meetings finished, Big 12 officials reportedly set a deadline for Nebraska and Missouri to decide whether to stay in the Big 12 or make the long-discussed move to the Big Ten.

“Nebraska has until 5 p.m. Friday to tell us what they’re going to do,” one school official said to the Austin American-Statesman. “The same deal for Missouri. They have to tell us they’re not going to the Big Ten.”

This news comes from a report by ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben. In that report, Ubben also said officials from Missouri and Nebraska refused to comment on the validity of the report that a deadline has been set by the Big 12.

So far, all reports only show a deadline for Nebraska and Missouri to make a decision, not any of the six teams rumored to be making the move to the Pac-10.

It was reported Monday that the Pac-10 was given permission to search for possible suitors to help expand the conference.

This news may have an even bigger effect on the rest of the Big 12 than the possibility of the Big Ten expansion.

If the Pac-10 decides to invite Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech and those six schools accept its invitation, the Big 12 will still disband.

Any decision made by any of the Big 12 schools to accept the Pac-10’s invitation may result in Nebraska and Missouri following suit and leaving for the Big Ten.

With that being said, Nebraska and Missouri will have just as much power deciding what happens to the Big 12 as any of those other six schools.

If the two north rivals decide to go to the Big Ten, it is possible the Pac-10 will get its six Big 12 teams soon after.

Various reports have said a possible Pac-10 expansion is not even close, however, one Big 12 official told the American-Statesman expansion could be sooner than most people think.

“I’ve talked to the Pac-10,” one Big 12 official said to the American-Statesman. “There is an invitation. When it comes, it’ll come fast.”

If all these rumors come true, it leaves another question left to be answered: What does this mean for Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State?

Looking at Iowa State in particular, the possible breaking up of the Big 12 opens up several options for conferences.

Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer outlined a few possible conferences Iowa State could move to if need be.

“If the Big 12 ceases to exist as we know it, what will the options be for Iowa State?” Lesmerises said. “Do you go to a conference like the Mountain West? The MAC? Conference USA? I don’t know.”

A possible Mountain West move may not be in the works, however. ESPN reported Monday that the Mountain West has no interest in expanding from nine teams at this time.

However, the possibility may still remain open for a future expansion of the Mountain West.

But there is still the possibility of dropping some of the nation’s more prominent teams from the ISU athletics schedule. This could potentially result in fans losing interest in the program.

“I think, for me, it would be difficult for fans to watch Iowa State go from playing Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and playing other prominent teams, to go to being in a situation where you’re not part of that on a regular basis,” Lesmerises said.

However, a move to a smaller conference may be potentially beneficial for Iowa State’s athletics.

“But on the other hand, if Iowa State goes to a smaller or lesser conference, does it allow you to compete on a higher level?” Lesmerises said. “And in some ways, is that a good thing if you don’t have Texas and Oklahoma in your conference? Is that better for Iowa State?”

Despite a busy week of news regarding the Big 12, it still remains to be seen how the Big Ten and Pac-10 expansion plans will affect Iowa State and the rest of the Big 12.