Leaving your conference, shaking up someone else’s.

A/N: There’s no way I’d be able to write an entry today without dividing my attention between the writing and a men’s World Cup game, so I’m going to do my best to be coherent.

Since starting grad school, I’ve been taking a break from following women’s college basketball, but my regular reading still includes a couple of bloggers from that area. So I had heard about the potential Big 12 exodus quite a bit during soccer’s off-season. The Big 12 is a conference that really matters in women’s basketball, and it can’t be ignored in women’s soccer.

Texas A&M and Texas shouldn’t need any introduction. In my mind, they are the Big 12. Missouri held a good in-conference record in 2009 and won the Big 12 tournament in 2008. Colorado notably produced Washington Freedom’s Nikki Marshall, a crucial member of the US U-20 team that won the U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2008. Oklahoma State has been a pain in the ass the past three or four years for the teams I cheer for, highlighting last year by winning the Big 12 tournament and taking Santa Clara to PKs in the NCAA tournament. And Nebraska… how many CWNT players were Huskers?

CU Buffs join Pac-10

Late last week, Colorado officially announced its move to the Pac-10. My co-author and I joked about it some on Twitter, but I really doubt Colorado’s move is going to make a significant difference in the women’s soccer scene–at least in the first few years.  They won’t unseat UCLA or Stanford, and who can say whether they will be good enough to jockey with USC and Cal. The worrisome part of this move is more on Colorado’s end than the Pac-10’s.

Nebraska Huskers to Big Ten

Soon after Colorado’s announcement, Nebraska announced its move to the Big Ten. Overall, this might not mean much to women’s soccer, but I think it has the potential to mean more in the Big Ten than Colorado’s move to the Pac-10. Compared to the Pac-10, the power gaps in the Big Ten are smaller, and the style of play has more similarities to the Big 12. This could potentially be a good move for both Nebraska and the Big Ten, but I am a worrier first. I might get excited later.

In all of this, it’s hard to say what it means for the Big 12. It’s hard to say whether the movement is over, so I err on the side of probably not.

The future of a 10-team Conference could be decided next week. Colorado’s move to the Pacific-10 Conference could be a precursor to the Pac-10 inviting five Big 12 South Division schools – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State – to form a 16-team conference. The Pac-10 has not formally invited those schools.

Texas would appear to be the key player in the Conference’s future. If UT decides to make a 10-team league work, the Conference could survive. If Texas believes there’s a better fit and more money in the Pac-10, it could lead the other four Big 12 South schools West.

Interestingly, there is mention of the Big Ten Network being part of the draw for Nebraska. (As I’ve just moved from Big 12 country back to the Big Ten, I totally understand this sentiment!) Nebraska’s conference play is expected to start in 2011 and Colorado expects to start in 2012.

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