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Pac-10, Big 10 or Big 12?

Matt Hinton reported yesterday that the University of Texas is at the heart of conference expansion talks for both the Pac 10 and the Big 10. While the thought of Texas leaving the Big 12 might not connotate the demise of the Big 12 itself, such a move could trigger at least two familiar Texas rivals joining the Longhorns in their new conference.

A politically-mandated package deal with Texas A&M has been a fundamental assumption of any scenario that imagines UT leaving the Big 12. In fact, it was allegedly the symbiotic relationship between the Aggies and 'Horns that submarined the SEC's efforts to add one or the other (though accounts differ on which one) without taking both when it initiated the expansion boom in the early '90s. A similar situation may exist with Tech this time around — hence its otherwise baffling inclusion with Texas and Texas A&M in the hypothetical Pac-10/Big 12 merger that has everyone on such high alert Friday.

It is difficult to imagine the college football landscape without the Big 12. The Big 12 has sent seven schools since 2000 to the BCS National Championship game, with Texas being crowned National Champions in 2005 and Oklahoma in 2000. It is increasingly feasible that the Big 12, despite all the relative success on the gridiron in the past decade, will dissipate in the coming weeks. 

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.