The University of Nebraska voted Friday unanimously to seek membership in the Big Ten Conference, continuing what may become the biggest realignment of college sports leagues.
Nebraska, the winner of at least a share of five national football championships, becomes the second school to leave the Big 12 Conference in two days, following the University of Colorado's switch to the Pacific-10 Conference Thursday. ESPN reported this week that the University of Texas will be among five more Big 12 schools to be invited to join the Pac-10.
The realignments are being triggered by the potential for increased revenue from conference sports networks, with little regard to regional proximity or long-held rivalries, analysts said. The Big Ten has a conference sports network; the Big 12 does not.
The switch might affect the Cornhuskers' rivalry with the University of Oklahoma that dates to Nov. 23, 1912. School officials didn't say if the rivalry would continue as part of a non-conference schedule. Oklahoma was among the schools that ESPN reported will be invited to join the Pac-10.
While fans understand history and rivalries, the opportunity to increase revenue becomes too difficult to pass up, said Rick Gentile, who teaches sports management at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and is a former executive producer and senior vice president at CBS Sports.
"It's a shame tradition gets canned because of money," he said. "But there is a finite amount you can raise ticket and tuition prices. This is a layup for Nebraska. They don't have to expand their stadium or improve anything. They just change conferences and make a bunch of money."
Last weekend, the Pac-10 gave Commissioner Larry Scott the authority to expand his conference, leading to the announcement Thursday that Colorado would jump from the Big 12.
Official: Four moreheaded to Pac-10
A highly placed official from a Big 12 school confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman on Friday that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will join the Pac-10 Conference once formal offers are made to them, but said that Texas A&M officials remain on the fence between joining the Pac-10 or the SEC.
"The decision has been made," the official told the Austin American-Statesman. "We're bringing everybody to the Pac-10 but A&M."
The official said the Aggies have a 72-hour timetable to decide whether to accept the Pac-10's offer. The official also said those formal offers could be made over the weekend.
The Texas board of regents have called an 11 a.m. CT meeting next Tuesday, and a formal announcement is expected later that day. Regents at Texas Tech also will meet on Tuesday, at 2 p.m.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said Friday he is still working to persuade the remaining 10 members to stay put.
"We're working with all those members. We've had a lot of positive feedback about the desire of those institutions to (stay) together," Beebe said.
Boise State to Mountain West
Boise State University in Idaho Friday accepted an invitation to join the Mountain West Conference from the Western Athletic Conference, where it won or shared the football title in seven of the last eight seasons. It will become effective July 1, 2011.
USC remains AP champs
NCAA sanctions might force USC to vacate its Bowl Championship Series title-game victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, but the Trojans will remain national champions of the 2004 season in The Associated Press poll.
"The 2004 poll stands," AP Sports Editor Terry Taylor confirmed in an e-mail. "The poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they're allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004."