SEC could be next in expansion game

By Andrea Adelson/The Orlando Sentinel (MCT)

ORLANDO, Fla. — As Colorado officially jumped from the Big 12 to the Pac-10, signs began to emerge that the SEC has tried to make a play in the conference expansion game.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione told the Tulsa World that his school had been contacted by the SEC. CNNSI.com reported that Texas A&M had also been contacted by the league. But Castiglione said his school would stick with whatever decision Texas makes, and you can bet the same of the Aggies.

Texas is essentially what the college football world is waiting on today.

The announcement that Colorado had accepted an invitation to the Pac-10 on Thursday hardly came as a shock. Nebraska is expected to be the second team to leave the Big 12 after its board of regents meet Friday and formally agree to move to the Big Ten.

Colorado and the Pac-10 have a long history. The Buffs declined an invitation to join the league in the 1990s to stay in the newly created Big 12.

So did the Longhorns.

But getting Colorado is not as earth-shattering a development as snagging Texas. Still, it is a domino falling in what is expected to be a radically changed college landscape. Colorado and Pac-10 officials will hold a joint news conference Friday, but they had a conference call Thursday.

“Colorado is a great fit, in every scenario Colorado was a great fit,” Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said.

The move would take effect for the 2012 season. Scott wouldn’t confirm whether the league would stop at 11 schools and declined to say whether it had extended invitations to anybody else.

But there is no question it has its eye on Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Cowboys denied a report Thursday that they had already decided to join the Pac-10.

But the Pac-10 is not the only league interested in some of those schools. SEC commissioner Mike Slive has said the league would do internal expansion studies. It would not be doing its due diligence if it failed to contact schools like Oklahoma and Texas A&M to gauge their interest.

But with the Sooners tied to the Longhorns, the Pac-10 seems imminent. The Oklahoman quoted an Oklahoma source as saying the Sooners were going West. “Load up on your sunscreen,” the source told the newspaper.

Several outlets also reported that a 16-team Pac-10 would seek two BCS automatic bids since the Big 12 would lose theirs.

“The Big 12 Conference has been informed that the University of Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the Pacific-10 Conference,” Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statement Thursday. “I continue to work through the process that was agreed upon last week by our Board of Directors to address membership issues, and are working tirelessly towards the long-term viability of the Big 12.”

With reports that the Big 12 is on life support, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor all met Thursday to discuss their futures, and perhaps the future of the Big 12.

“Baylor is working feverishly to keep the Big 12 together,” Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw told ESPN.com. “It is of special importance to keep the four Big 12 schools from Texas together.”