Friday June 11th, 2010

Welcome, everyone, to On-the-Record Friday. As you know, major college athletics is in the midst of a massive reorganization. So far, most of the news of that reorganization has come from "sources" or "trusted sources" or "a source close to BCS coordinator Bill Hancock's father's brother's mother's cousin's former dry cleaner."

I can't criticize too much. I've been guilty of it myself. (In my defense, this was fairly significant news at the time.) Still, you, dear readers, deserve answers straight from the mouths of the people who make the decisions. Will five more Big 12 teams leave for the Pac-10, or will the SEC swoop in and change everyone's plans? Will the Big Ten add Nebraska and then stop expanding? Will the Big East pervert geography and entertain the thought of adding Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Missouri? Today, we should have answers to some of those questions.

We got a taste Thursday, when Colorado announced it would leave the Big 12 and join the Pac-10, which at the moment has 11 members. "This is the dawning of a new day for the Pac-10," first-year commissioner Larry Scott trumpeted on a conference call cut short by the fact that Colorado's president and chancellor couldn't figure out how to un-mute their lines to tell us how they felt about this exciting development. Later in the day, Scott told reporters the conference might just stand pat at 11 teams.

Now that it's On-the-Record Friday, here's hoping Scott won't insult our intelligence any further. It's not a bright new day for your conference if the only school you've added has a football team that got crushed by Toledo last year and then didn't have the cash on hand to fire its underperforming coach. It is, however, a bright new day if Colorado is the first of six new members.

Who might those members be? We know what the sources have said. Hopefully, on On-the-Record Friday, we'll know for sure. Nebraska's board of regents meets Friday at 2 p.m. ET. Nebraska isn't going to the Pac-10, but all the sources have told us that when the regents -- after a public comment period that could be highly entertaining -- discuss agenda item VI, they will resolve to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten. That would bump the membership of that mathematically challenged league to 12 teams.

More importantly, it would allow the Texas-led junta of would-be defectors to finally put the Big 12 as we know it out of its misery. The group includes the Longhorns, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. It may also include Texas A&M, which through Thursday remained a target of the SEC. Hopefully, On-the-Record Friday will provide fewer unnamed sources and more clarity.

The search for clarity may stretch for days, though. If the dog and pony show Scott is putting on at Colorado on Friday is any indication, he may want schools to space out announcements to milk the attention for his league. Pac-10 and Tournament of Roses officials will descend on Boulder like the Beatles landing at JFK. Even the governor of Colorado will take part in the festivities. This is another brilliant move by Scott, who deserves every penny the Pac-10 paid him to lure him away from the Women's Tennis Association. But while brilliant, it will be maddening for those of us who just want the rest of the schools to go on the record and admit they're changing conferences.

We have a pretty good idea who isn't in the group. Baylor president Ken Starr, the former federal judge who once investigated President Bill Clinton's extracurriculars with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, posted a message on his athletic department's Web site Thursday that included the following sentence: "In any event, the Big 12 will be competing for at least another two years." In other words, enjoy the last few minutes in the land of the big boys.

Starr's message also contained some intriguing political saber-rattling. U.S. Rep Chet Edwards urged Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus to call immediate hearings in the Texas legislature to investigate the breakup of the Big 12. "These decisions are too important to be decided solely by a small handful of people behind closed doors without public input from the citizens of our great state," Edwards said. "The Texas legislature has a responsibility to our taxpayers to review the impact of any conference realignment on our state's economy and historic relationships between our state's universities and their respective communities."

Not to be outdone, Texas State Rep. Jim Dunham wrote a fiery op-ed piece for the Austin American-Statesman. "The Baltimore Colts can slink out at night to Indianapolis, and Jerry Jones can fire Tom Landry. They own the teams. But our public universities are owned by all Texans," Dunham wrote. "If the boards who are supposed to protect the interests of today and tomorrow's generation of Texans want to consider moving to California, we at least deserve public debate and discussion." Dunham sure sounds like he loves public universities, which is interesting, because Dunham has an undergraduate degree and a law degree from the same private university: Baylor.

At this point, Baylor's best chance -- as Twitter follower Pat Richter of Austin put it so eloquently Thursday night -- is if Linda Tripp has tapes of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds talking to the Pac-10. That would be a fine way to celebrate On-the-Record Friday, the day we (hopefully) get some real answers.

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