The final domino in the conference expansion race will fall as soon as next week, with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma state accepting formal offers to join the Pac-10 super-conference. According to reports, as soon as a formal offer is made the schools will accept, becoming members of the newly formed super-conference. The move means the Pac-10 immediately vaults to the top of the food chain in the NCAA and positions itself with a ton of leverage going into TV negotiations next year.
While rumors have been circulating for the past week, this is the most solid confirmation that the move will actually be happening. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott sold the conference to the Big 12 schools and forced their hands, causing the collapse of the conference and scooping up the best parts and Texas Tech. On Tuesday, most of the aforementioned schools will be holding meetings with their regents to formally accept the offer, making Scott's dream a reality. With Nebraska joining the Big 10 in 2011, it's possible that the Pac-10 will move to 16 teams in 2011, sooner than the expected 2012 target. The speed with which his plan was executed left little room for schools to reconsider and gave Scott all the power he needed to make this happen.
The only question that remains is whether Texas A&M will join their fellow Big 12 South counterparts in moving to the Pac-10. A&M has been enamored with the SEC since these discussions began and appears to be waiting for an invitation from the SEC. If A&M doesn't decide soon, the Pac-10 will move on without them, leaving them in limbo.
Besides A&M, the options still on the table seem to be Utah, Kansas, or perhaps Baylor. The most attractive of these options may be Utah, bringing the Salt Lake City market and allowing the conference to diversify it's television markets. Adding a non Big 12 member also balances all the power in the conference out and gives the Pac-10 a neutral member, sort of like Switzerland. Whatever happens, it looks like the big prizes in all of this, Texas and Oklahoma, will be members of the conference within the next few days.
If you're a fan of WSU, be excited. The money coming in will nearly double the athletic budget for the Cougs. Almost overnight, WSU receives an influx of money to take the athletic department budget to a level that has never been seen in the history of the program. Bill Moos now has money to play with. We should all be excited for the future.