This is setting up to be the wildest day for news developments on the college scene without a game involved that I can remember. The USC penalties are being announced, and it's almost an afterthought considering the ongoing collapse of the Big 12. Oh yeah, Chicago won the Stanley Cup, game four of Lakers/Celtics is tonight, and Tom Izzo's looking at Cleveland's head coaching job too. Other than that there's nothing going on.
I've been waiting for the NCAA to hammer somebody for violations and show they remain relevant. USC did everything possible to give them an excuse to do it, and today it becomes official that they have. The LA Times is reporting a two year bowl ban and the loss of over twenty scholarships. We still have to see how those numbers are spread out, but this will be devastating to the Trojan football program going forward. UCLA will be able to get much more of the L.A. talent than they had been to this point under Rick Neuheisel, and other programs will come in to take advantage as well. Juniors and seniors will be able to transfer out without penalty - how many of them will want to do that now? Hiring Lane Kiffin seemed idiotic at the time USC did it, and looks even more so now. Out of all the coaches they could have presented to the infractions committee, they chose to bring a guy in who was not only part of the staff that was involved in the violations but who became notorious for his own "screw the rules" attitude in Knoxville. USC waved the flag in front of the bull, and they deservedly got gored.
Nebraska to the Big Ten is barring a shocking development going to happen tomorrow, but the more important issue for the Big 12 is whether this has to be the end of the conference. Texas and Texas A&M will have a summit to discuss ways to keep the Big 12 together, with the conference's commissioner now claiming they don't really need a conference title game so it won't be a big deal to only have nine or ten members if the South division schools will just stay. That's a ridiculous argument - the conference was created so that there could be a title game in the first place, and the Big Nine isn't real catchy as a name. If Texas wants to keep the conference going, they can. Add in Utah to fill the Nebraska spot if you can, with BYU a second option since the Pac-10 apparently wants the Utes too along with Colorado if the Texas/Oklahoma schools don't come. (Colorado's going whether the south division schools do or not.) Move the Oklahoma schools to the north and bring in Memphis or TCU. It's not ideal, but if Texas and Oklahoma stay that wont matter. The Big 12 can be saved, the question is whether anyone but Kansas really wants it to.
Should they create the 16 team Big Pac, the conference would supposedly push to have two automatic BCS bids - one for each of its division champs instead of them playing a title game and one eliminating the other. There's not a chance the SEC will stand for that, nor should anyone else. If you create a giant conference, you have to deal with those consequences. As for the Big Ten, the first guess of what its divisions look like with only Nebraska added has Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State together in one while Nebraska would have Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin for competition. That's not a very well designed plan.
So far the SEC hasn't been involved in any of these discussions, but Andy Staples of SI reports the conference has had conversations with Texas A&M. Texas doesn't want to be in the SEC. It would mean tougher competition and they feel like their academics are superior to most of the SEC member schools. It's been assumed the whole time that everyone else in the Big 12 South will go where Texas goes if they can, but A&M isn't a great fit for the Pac-10 mindset. I doubt there's much of a serious possiblity the Aggies come to the SEC without Texas, but given the current state of affairs in the Big 12 anything's possible.
For five years the Los Angeles Dodgers paid a Russian physicist to watch their games on television and send positive energy to the team. Turns out it's a better idea to sign quality pitchers instead of a guy sending out "good feelings" from 3000 miles away. Who could have guessed?