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With all the moves going on, the Southeastern, Atlantic Coast and Big East Conferences have been relatively silent, though it's no sure thing they'll stay on the sideline for long.
The ACC poached teams from the Big East seven years ago, while the SEC started the mania for conference title games back in 1992, after it added Arkansas and South Carolina to reach 12 teams and split into two divisions.
The next big move came in 1996, when the Southwest Conference disintegrated and four Texas teams joined the Big Eight to make it the Big 12. The change was not wildly popular everywhere in the conference -- most notably, Nebraska.
"Sometimes, change has to come, but all change is not necessarily progress," said former Auburn athletic director David Housel. "It sure makes for some pretty big conferences and big travel budgets. Hate to say it, but bottom line, it's all about money."
For instance, Nebraska received about $10 million from the Big 12 in 2009, while Big Ten members -- many located in large TV markets -- got about $20 million, thanks in part to a bigger TV contract and the startup of its own network. SEC schools received $17.3 million each this year from their revenue-sharing plan.
What's playing out this summer is essentially a survival game. Conferences that stay in the BCS and hold a football playoff generate more money for all their schools, which is why getting bigger is in vogue.
"I'm presuming there will be" a title game starting in 2011, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. He said the conference was studying further expansion, possibly up to 16 teams.
Drawbacks to expansion include longer and more expensive travel (especially important considering all the non-revenue teams), the loss of rivalries, tradition and the regional distinctions of the conferences. If the Texas teams join the Pac-10, the conference would span three time zones and be spread from College Station, Texas to Seattle.
"The future of college athletics appears to be less about academics and competitive success and more about money, as measured by television viewership and the associated revenues," officials at Iowa State wrote in a letter sent to boosters.
Beebe agreed, while conceding his comments weren't purely objective, coming as they are in the midst of an attempt to save his conference.
"If the future of college athletics is going to be four 16-member conferences, there's going to be great risk," he said, "especially if significant institutions in the history of college athletics find they're disenfranchised."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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