As the clock struck midnight and quietly wound its way to 12:01 Friday morning, the mini-expansion apocalypse of 2010 became officially official.
The Pac-10 has officially became the Pac-12 with the additions of Colorado (Big 12) and Utah (Mountain West). The Big Ten officially became the, well, Big Ten despite the addition of Nebraska (Big 12) as its 12th member. Boise State will now be a full-fledged voting member of the Mountain West after bolting the depleted and beleaguered WAC, while BYU (Mountain West) has shed its conference clothes and exchanged them for football independence.
So, what does today mean, other than the official transition from last summer’s symbolic departures? Not a whole helluva lot if you take the word of a pair of coaches involved in the conference restructuring.
“It doesn’t signify anything for me,” Cornhuskers head coach Bo Pelini told ESPN.com in comments that are the early front-runners for quote of the year. “It’s just a date, as far as I’m concerned.”
“I’m not a sentimental guy,” Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said. “My wife can attest to that. That’s not in my makeup. You just move on. That may sound a little bit callous, but that’s my mentality. Just take care of your business and move on.”
The ” OK, whatever” attitudes of and stifling of yawns from Pelini and Whittingham notwithstanding, July 1 is still a significant milestone, if for nothing more than what it means for the future landscape of the sport.
Both the Pac-12 and Big Ten will split into two six-team divisions — with one containing more palatable and less insufferable nicknames than the other — and hold its first-ever conference championship games, with the respective winners representing the league in a BcS bowl game. Hell, even the Utes, stuck in non-automatic qualifying purgatory despite unblemished seasons the past decade, could represent their new conference in a BcS bowl or (gasp!) the national championship game.
“This is a very exciting day and a historic moment for our Conference, for college athletics and for Colorado and Utah,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “Our Conference was built on a pioneering spirit and through innovation that has contributed to some of the most valuable advancements in this country and the world. Colorado and Utah share those core values and instantly enhance the strength of our Conference both academically and athletically.”
After years of living underneath the massive shadow cast by Texas, Nebraska now has the opportunity to plow its own Midwest ground, with Ohio State’s off-field issues seemingly opening the door for the Cornhuskers to grab hold of their new conference from the get-go. Of course, Russell Wilson and Wisconsin may have something to say about the degree of NU’s success right out of the gate, especially in early December in Indianapolis.
Meanwhile, in Boise, the Broncos will be celebrating their official arrival to a conference just a half-notch below the Big Six — or Big Five, depending on your view of Big East football — although that celebration may be a bit muted relative to where the school’s hopes were nearly 13 months ago. After pledging a move to the MWC on June 11, BSU watched as Utah left for the Pac-10/12 five days later and BYU for football independence in late August. Additionally, TCU announced in late November that they would leave the MWC for the Big East in 2012.
Still, despite all of the tumult that’s transpired since their unofficial arrival, the move was a positive — and necessary — one for a football program that desperately craves respect on the national stage.
It remains to be seen how all of the additions — or defections, as the case may be — will play out and what it will mean for the respective conference — or what it could mean for future expansion. There’s no doubt, however, that the landscape of college football was forever changed by the events of June, 2010, and beyond that became official today. Whether those moves ultimately become a positive or negative development remains to be seen as well.