Right out of the gate, Missouri — along with maybe Pittsburgh — was mentioned as the most likely of candidates to land in the Big Ten when the conference publicly confirmed last December it was discussing the expansion issue.
Then came word yesterday from the Lawrence Journal-World that the Big Ten had engaged in “preliminary exchanges” with Texas, which of course sent the Internet into a frenzy of speculation, although there still, at the end of the day, doesn’t seem to be much of a chance of the Longhorns leaving.
With two of their conference brethren firmly attached to the Big Ten expansion rumor mill, Nebraska has made it known that they’d be willing to listen to expansion overtures.
Speaking to the Lincoln Journal Star, athletic director Tom Osborne said he had yet to hear from the conference but made it clear that the call would be answered if anyone wanted to pick up the phone and inquire about his school’s level of interest.
“I haven’t heard anything from (Big Ten commissioner) Jim Delany, so you don’t know exactly what they’re thinking,” Osborne told the paper earlier today. “We haven’t entered into any formal talks with anybody right now. We’re focusing on the Big 12. But I don’t think that means if somebody wanted to pick up the phone and call us, that we’d hang up on them. You listen. But we don’t have any plans to do anything different at this point.
“We’ll have to see what the landscape is six months, a year, from now. If we start losing schools, it could change the whole dynamic of the Big 12 Conference.”
It’s not exactly breaking news that Nebraska would listen to what the Big Ten’s attempting to sell. Any school would be foolish to not listen to what the conference and their lucrative television network has to offer.
It’s interesting, though, that Osborne would publicly express a willingness to engage in dialogue with another league – the same tack Missouri took, incidentally. While it comes off as refreshingly honest, it also comes off as posturing for a seat at the expansion table.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.