A rumor now slashing across the field of major-college athletics is this: If Nebraska abandons the Big 12 for the better money of the Big 10, then Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and — surprise! — Baylor would all shift west, to the PAC 10.
If that occurs, schools like the University of Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State would be left standing on the sidelines, like the athletically awkward students on the playground at recess whom no one wants on their team. Hold on, though. Before CU fans go on a Ralphie-syle rampage, they should know this is a worst-case scenario — one few expect to occur.
There has been much talk of late — including during Big 12 meetings last week — of potential realignment of athletic conferences. It has to do with football and money that flows to universities from major television contracts such as the Big 10 has. That’s why Nebraska and Missouri are interested in joining the Big 10.
But there are observers who believe this is nothing but a bit of off-field misdirection. In this view, all of this talk of realignment and athletic-conference permutations was initiated by Big 10 officials eager to lure the true prize to their conference: independent Notre Dame, which has its own television contract and one of the largest national audiences of any university in the country.
If Notre Dame joins the Big 10, expect the Big 12, the Pac 10 and other major conferences to remain just as they are. We hope that’s what happens. No one wants to see CU, KU or Kansas State begging other athletic conferences to let them get in the game.