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Big 10 Getting Serious About Expansion

And there are media reports that Texas is high on their wish list.

Big 10 Blogger Frank The Tank gives the reasons why a Texas addition to the Big 10 makes sense.

All this talk of expansion is just speculation at this time, but it is Topic #1 everywhere, even out West.

There are several valid reasons for the sudden public discussion of another round of "downsizing" and reorganization at the BCS Conference levels, but reason #1 is clear.

Big-time college football is playing a game of Musical Chairs, and the SEC is the only member who has a permanent seat at the game -- thanks to its multi-billion dollar TV deal. The SEC splits $242 million a year in media revenue alone among its 10 members.

The Big 12 splits $78 million, the Pac 10 about $58 million.

Right now Texas leads the Big 12 in TV revenue with about $12 million a year. Every team in the SEC gets a check for almost double what Texas makes off of TV.

The SEC money is guaranteed for 15 years. The Big 12, Big 10, Pac 10 and ACC all face contract renegotions in the 2011-12 seasons. They all are wondering just how much money will be left to go around.

It isn't just the money that worries the other BCS conferences, it is the reach of the SEC across multiple media platforms through ESPN. The "Regional" broadcasts of SEC football and basketball can be seen in many other BCS TV markets, including such as Columbus, Ohio.

All the talk right now is about the Big 10 taking on one more member and the Pac 10 looking to add two programs so both leagues could have a Conference Championship game. Make no mistake, both conferences are looking long-term, and that means both are looking at eventually expanding to include 16 members.

As far as Texas and the appeal of the Big 10, there are two major factors.

Over the next 20 years, the Big 10 Network will produce least $3 Billion for the league's schools.

Thanks to its own network, the Big 10 is currently the best positioned to compete with the SEC. Right now the Big 10 currently splits $240 million per year in TV revenue – split evenly among all 11 members. That means that even Northwestern gets almost $10 million more a year that Texas does right now in the Big 12.

The Big 10 Network has succeeded thanks to its massive alumni base, which is stretched across the country. That large fan base has allowed the Big 10 to sell its network as a basic cable channel across the nation. Over 73 million homes are currently getting the Big 10 Network, which means a dual revenue stream of subscriptions and advertising.

The idea of adding a glamour program like Texas -- to say nothing of the major markets in the state, would make taking UT a very profitable move for both sides.

The other factor that would make the move to the Big 10 appealing to Texas is academics. The neighborhood is populated with like-minded families: large state Universities that are research oriented.

Joining the Big 10 would appease a lot of the folks in the Tower, because they would also be joining another prestigous organization.

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) is the academic consortium of the universities in the Big Ten Conference plus the University of Chicago. It is a collaborative effort among the Universities to share in such areas as library resources, information technology, as well as enhanced opportunities for faculty and staff networking.

It also is strong player in research. CIC members engage in $6 billion in funded research, receiving some 12 percent of the total federal research funds awarded annually.

Making a move to the Big 10 would be an easier sell to the faculty and staff of UT than any other move.

Again, all of this is speculation, just internet buzz right now.

But there is no doubt that the Big 10 and the Pac 10 will move to increase their numbers. Texas is a very attractive target for anyone thinking about expansion.

So does Texas stand pat, waiting to see if any other schools (Missouri, Colorado) are picked off by other leagues, and see how the Big 12 reacts?

Or does Texas decide to be proactive and take a look around right now?

There are a lot of factors involved that we haven't even touched on -- such as the political ramifications of Texas trying to get out of the Big 12 and leave several other programs behind.

Change is coming. The role Texas places in that change is still to be determined.