Conference Realignment: The Dominoes Start to Fall

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The dominoes have started to fall in conference expansion, with the Pac-10
announcing today that Colorado will leave the Big 12 and join the Pac-10, and
with Nebraska, according to multiple sources, poised to leave the Big 12 and
join the Big Ten. A mass defection of the Big 12 South to the Pac-10 appears to
be underway.

I can’t get enough of this expansion stuff. This is extremely high-stakes
poker, with more intrigue than a Grisham novel. I’ve been reading and reading
and reading, and I’ve been thinking and thinking and thinking. If you like this
expansion stuff, then read on, because here’s my two cents.

Writing an article about expansion right now is tricky business, because what
you’re writing can be blown out of the water in the two hours it takes you to
write it. I’ve already had to rewrite this article in light of the Colorado news
becoming official. I’m in a rush now to get it done and posted before something
else changes.

I’ve spent hours recently reading expansion-related material, and I mean
newspaper articles, not message board posts (though they’re informative, too).
It’s fascinating stuff. I’ve learned more about other conferences and schools
than you could ever hope to learn in an ordinary week in college athletics.

I wanted to pass on some of what I’ve learned, and let me apologize ahead of
time for not necessarily having links to every article I’ve read. Like I said,
I’ve read a lot of stuff. But here’s what I’ve learned that will shed
some light on what’s going on.

Why is the Big Ten expanding?

Because its Big Ten network has been wildly successful. The Big Ten network,
started in August of 2007, will pay Big Ten schools $6.4 million each in revenue
sharing this academic year. That’s before ABC, ESPN, and CBS (CBS for men’s
basketball) start paying the conference their share of TV revenue.

The Big Ten Network derives revenue from cable and satellite subscriber fees,