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June 11th, 2010. A day that would live in college football infamy. Why? Simple: The Nebraska Cornhuskers and Colorado Buffaloes both left their longtime conference, the Big Twelve, for the Big Ten and Pac Ten, respectively. In real life, Texas was offered a chance to join those schools, but elected not to. But what if they did?
It was in 2009 that the Big Ten announced their intent to expand. Headed by commissioner Jim Delaney, they actively sought out a twelfth member, with the hope that they would be able to host the all-too-crucial championship game.
The Pac 10, the Big 10's partner through the Rose Bowl, elected to do likewise. The stage was set.
6/11/10: Now It Gets Real
Rumors flew regarding just who the Big Ten was going to add as their golden 12th member. Nebraska was widely regarded as the favorite, but some suggested the Big Ten was going after several other members, including Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Missouri, Kansas, and even Texas. Ultimately, the B1G (as the Big Ten would now be called) stuck with the Cornhuskers and a tidy 12 teams.
The Pac 10, in a parallel move, plucked up Colorado and, in doing so, expanded to 11 teams. The Big Twelve was down to ten and the Big Ten was up to twelve.
As an important aside, Boise State also moved from the Western Athletic (WAC) to the Mountain West Conference.
Point of Divergence: Texas to the Pac 12
In this reality, Texas turned down an invitation to become the Pac 12's 12th member and remained in the Big 12, in that way rescuing it from certain death. But in this timeline the Longhorns are content to let the Big XII die. Texas jumps ship and joins the Pac 12 Conference, which says it intends to realign its divisions beginning in 2011 in the following way:
North: Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Cal, Stanford
South: USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Texas
The Fate of the Big XII
Meanwhile, Big XII commissioner Dan Beebe calls an emergency meeting of Big 12 schools to determine what should be done about Texas. The members of the dying conference are interrupted when word comes that the Pac 13, which has just added Utah that day, wants to woo Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor - all but five of the Big Twelve's schools. In the meeting, Beebe - knowing he will soon be out of a job - frees the aforementioned four schools to join the conference; Texas Tech and Baylor accept the invitations on the spot, while Oklahoma and Oklahoma State decide to remain in the Big Twelve - for now.
Texas A&M agrees to actively seek membership in both the Pac 15 and the SEC.
The fate of the four former teams of the Big 12's North Division - Missouri, Kansas, Iowa State, and Kansas State - is declared by Beebe to be "up in the air."
Meanwhile, in the Big Ten
The Big Ten issues formal invitations to Missouri and Kansas and informal invitations to Kansas State and Iowa State, all who will soon be without conferences. Missouri and Kansas on June 18th agree to the Big Ten's terms, becoming the 13th and 14th members of the Big Ten. Kansas State announces that it will play at least 2011 and 2012 as an independent, while its basketball team mulls a move to the Missouri Valley. Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard, meanwhile, remains silent on the fate of his Cyclones.
The Big XII's Fate is Sealed
Texas A&M's quest for SEC membership strikes gold as the Aggies are accepted into the Southeastern along with Oklahoma. Oklahoma State, a rebel without a cause, pleads for unity, but no one listens. The Cowboys have no conference, and eventually announce an arrangement similar to Kansas State's.
TCU and BYU Bolt
TCU and BYU, both of the Mountain West, decide to both leave the conference. TCU announces that it is seeking membership in an AQ conference; the Pac 14 and Big East open their arms. Eventually, the Horned Frogs join the BEC. The Pac 15, needing one more member to even things out, successfully nab the Cougars.
Miscellaneous News and Notes: July-December 2010 Edition
Iowa State announces July 7th that it will join the Mid-American Conference starting in 2012 as a temporary arrangement, with the Cyclones being able to depart if they see fit starting in July 2016. A clause is included granting Iowa State an automatic BCS berth should they win the conference.
Notre Dame publicly defends its independence, saying it has no plans to join a conference anytime soon. Navy and Army, meanwhile, are said to be in discussions with the Big East for a football-only arrangement. The Big East itself may not be lasting long, as secession with the so-called "Catholic Eight" is looking pretty real.
The Bowl Championship Series revises its format for the 2011-2014 seasons, announcing that the Big East will receive the Big 12's automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl starting next season. The BCS will now only have 5 AQ conferences instead of the usual six.
Three conferences announce new alignments for the start of the 2011 season.
The SEC announces that, in the wake of Oklahoma and Texas A&M's addition, those two schools will both join the West division. Alabama and Auburn will switch to the East, with Vanderbilt moving from the East to the West.
The Pac 16 tweaks slightly its arrangement above, adding Utah and BYU to the North and Baylor and Texas Tech to the South.
The Big Ten splits into the East and West divisions. Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Penn State, Purdue, and Illinois comprise the East, while the three new additions, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota make up the West.