"Tex-odus" to Pac 16 costs Utah?

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The major "Conference Armageddon" is on and Utah's Pac-10 dreams appear to be over. This change affects BYU and the Mountain West Conference too. As the MWC Presidents meetings broke up in Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Monday, Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson put it this way.

"Obviously, for the same reason any business decision is made, if the (MWC) Presidents are pressured and have an opportunity to go to another league and there's more revenue and better competition and new opportunities to play in bowl games ... that's something they would probably look at," said Thompson on Monday, "But those calls and invitations have not come in."

Of course calls and invitations are flying around the country. Blowing up in the Big Ten, Big 12 and ... Pac-16 now? Yes, Nebraska started it. Reportedly invited to join the Big Ten Wednesday, they will reportedly make the jump official by Friday.

As expected the Huskers bolting the Big 12 for the Big Ten has started the domino effect.

ESPN is reporting Colorado already has an invitation to join the Pac-10 and the "mass Tex-odus" from the Big 12 to what will become the Pac 16 is on. Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech ... all going west. The Big 12, essentially, on the verge of dissolving.

Why? It makes plenty of dollars and sense. Those Big 12 schools cover several big TV markets (Dallas, Houston, Denver) and ESPN's reporting the new Pac 16's TV deal would pay each school (all 16 institutions) about $20 million a year. That's up $10 million to $12 million over the $8 million to $10 million the Pac-10 schools get annually now.

The Big 12 schools are pulling in between $7 million and $12 million, so those six joining this new "Pac 16" would each get $8 million to $13 million more per year.

So what do BYU and Utah do now?

The Utes have been banking on a move to the Pac-10 for weeks now. Does this bring Boise State back in to a new 10 team MWC?

Do they try to bring in Kansas, K-State and Baylor?

Late Thursday night ESPN College Football analyst Kirk Herbstreit threw another school into the mix. "Where does all this leave Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State? Probably looking at the the Mountain West. I know this isn't what they want to hear but that's probably the reality."

I called the Mountain West Conference Wednesday, inviting Commissioner Thompson to join us live on the phone for this weekend's SportsBeat Sunday to discuss all of this, but a MWC spokesman told me the commissioner is out of the country this weekend.

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Tom Kirkland 5 Sports Director


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