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Conference Expansion: Dust Settles, 16 Team Mecha-Conferences Avoided (For Now)

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After a full day of often times contradicting conference expansion rumors, the Texas Longhorns have decided to make a go of it in the Big X. Or at least, that's what I'll call it for now. The Longhorns have rejected the Pac-10's offer and have been persuaded that the money to be made in a smaller Big 12 is too great to pass up.

Texas' decision to make a go of it in the Big X may ultimately put an abrupt end to this round of conference realignment. I'm sad to see it go too, but at least now we can turn our attention to more important things, like previewing BC's upcoming 2010 football season.

The Pac-10, currently at 11 teams, will likely be looking for a dancing partner to round up the number of teams to 12 (and a conference championship game). But other than the Pac-10, no further conference expansion moves seem imminent. The Big Ten is happy with their addition of Nebraska and will take another six to 12 months to determine whether they want to expand further.

At the end of the day, Texas probably got what it wanted: a promised media contract in the SEC-like $20 million dollar range, plus an easier path to the BCS National Championship Game and the right to pursue their own television contract. Sure the conference loses Nebraska and Colorado, along with their conference championship game, but expansion back up to 12 doesn't seem imminent given the value that rumored replacements would provide to the conference.

Just how did we get here? Well ESPN's Andy Katz is hear to explain exactly how the Big 12 was saved

A NCAA source with direct knowledge of what occurred told that the aggressiveness of the Pac-10 caused various factions of the collegiate sports world to coalesce. They then worked to slow and try to stop the pace of moves that would have left a number schools searching for a new conference home.

The source said the people involved were business executives, conference commissioners, athletic directors, network executives with ties throughout college athletics, administrators at many levels throughout the NCAA membership and a "fair number of them without a dog in the hunt."

The saving of the Big 12 is great news for Boston College and the ACC, as it prevents Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State from bolting to the Pac-10 as well as preventing Texas A&M joining the SEC. So now you can forget about who the SEC will invite as the 14th member as well as fretting over being left out in a world where there are four, 16-team BCS mega-conferences. At least, you can stop worrying about that today.

Other than the Pac-10 (attempting to get to 12 teams), this round of conference expansion seems to have ceased with no conferences going beyond 12 teams. That means that fans of Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech can stop their salivating over the possibility of receiving an invite to join the SEC and that the ACC will remain in tact for the foreseeable future.

No 16 team mecha-conferences any time soon = WIN.

Even the Big East, often rumored to be on tenuous ground in the conference expansion land grab, seems to have been at least temporarily spared from the latest round of musical chairs.

Will this all change in 24 hours? Perhaps. But at least we can breath a deep sigh of relief knowing that there will continue to be 6 BCS conferences in the near future. That is, until the new Big 12 media deal becomes untenable and the Pac-10 and Big Ten attempt to lure more Big 12 members to join their conference.