The great shift in college sports appears to be upon us.
Years from now, we may be looking back on Friday as a monumental turning point for everything we knew about NCAA football and basketball conferences.
We are, according to numerous reports out Wednesday, a mere day away from the Big Ten potentially saying hello to Nebraska and the rest of the country saying goodbye to the Big 12 Conference.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany may have wanted to wait 12 to 18 months to decide the league's future, but the Pac-10's aggressiveness in its own expansion has become the driving force in college sports the past few weeks.
Nebraska and Missouri have been given a Friday deadline to decide if they want to be part of the Big 12. That league must decide its fate in the wake of six of its members being wooed by the Pac-10.
That's the recent history of the expansion talk.
Here's the future: Nebraska makes sense in the Big Ten in nearly every possible way, it wants the money the league can offer and it wants to be in a stable conference.
Nebraska's board of regents decided Wednesday to enter discussions about joining the Big Ten, and a final decision from the school could come as early as tomorrow.
No one from the Big Ten is confirming anything yet, and the league still could balk at adding the Cornhuskers, although that seems highly unlikely. Once the Nebraska move occurs, look for a domino effect perhaps unlike anything ever seen in college sports.
The Pac-10 wants to create a superconference by adding Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Colorado. Not all of them are sexy choices, but Texas and Oklahoma are so good that it's worth it for the league to add the rest.
The Pac-10 deserves credit for taking a proactive stance in the expansion process rather than simply sitting back and waiting for the Big Ten to dictate everything. It's taken the Big Ten more than six months to get its ducks in order, yet the Pac-10 has been fast-tracking its process the past few weeks.
After expanding, the Pac-10 plans to create a network on par with the Big Ten Network, and spanning nearly half the country while boasting USC, Texas and Oklahoma as members should make for a profitable TV venture.
The Big 12 is on life support right now, and it undoubtedly will die if more than half its members defect.
Nebraska needs a home, and its great football tradition makes it an excellent fit for the Big Ten. The lone drawback is it's an odd addition geographically -- it's 1,075 miles from State College to Lincoln -- but no one seems to care much about that aspect.
Nebraska is by no means a given yet, but if the Cornhuskers do join the Big Ten, it makes sense that Missouri would follow since it would be without a home. Then the league would have to decide just how big it wants to grow and how aggressive it wants to be in its process.
Notre Dame remains the biggest fish out there for the Big Ten. The league could force the Fighting Irish into joining if it were to decide to essentially destroy the Big East by plucking away Pitt, Syracuse and/or Rutgers.
Big East football probably wouldn't be able to survive losing two or all three, and if Pitt and Syracuse leave the conference, its future in basketball would be bleak, as well. If Notre Dame has nowhere for its basketball and other teams to play, it may have to join the Big Ten.
There's still so much in the speculation stage, but you'd better believe there are a plenty of college administrators around the country worrying about getting left out in the cold during all this movement. One wrong decision potentially could cost a school tens of millions of dollars in the next few years alone.
Kansas is a perfect example. If the Big 12 dies, the Jayhawks and their tremendous basketball program may be forced to join a much lesser league, meanwhile their football program could lose its biggest rival if Missouri joins the Big Ten.
This is a crazy time in college sports, and things will only get crazier in the coming weeks.
Very little of substance has occurred in the past six months, but at last, starting with Nebraska's decision, we finally can start moving forward with actual news instead of the constant speculation.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.