Conference commissioner Jim Delany may say the Big 10 has "an 11-month time frame" to talk expansion, but when perhaps the nation's most powerful conference and commissioner mentions the "E" word, there is no taking it back. Delany has set off college football's doomsday clock.
What conference wants to wait and see now? By bringing up the subject, the Big 10 has made this a big, red zit on the nose of college football. No one can ignore it and no one can leave it alone. It's too late.
Zap that bad boy or be prepared to deal with the mess.
Perhaps they know this. Perhaps they know the Big XII is chum for the sharks in either the Pac-10 or the SEC, ready to rip the best cuts of meat for themselves.
Perhaps this allows alleged Big XII targets Nebraska and Missouri to leave without announcing it now, forcing them to pay fines for exiting early.
That would be devious. A conspiracy worthy of Goldfinger -- set off the bomb that lays waste to the worth of other conferences while yours grows more valuable.
But Jim Delany has long carried the reputation of being as close as you can get to a Bond villain without being a villain.
He's no Dr. No. He's just looking out for Number One (or Number 1-1, as in the 11 teams in his conference).
Again, I reiterate that, if it's the Big XII that gets ripped to shreds, things could land sunny-side up for UTEP and Conference USA.
Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and maybe even Oklahoma State could be set adrift if Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma get a good offer from a hungry heavyweight conference.
And the Big XII might not be the only conference with some pretty good pickin's for enterprising buzzards. Interestingly, if the Pac-10 expands, it could be inviting Utah and maybe (MAYBE) Brigham Young, too, which cuts the heart out of a conference for which the Miners have long had a jones to join.
Perhaps the Mountain West comes to Mohammed.
C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky has already acknowledged the conference looked seriously at expanding to 16, but its school presidents nixed the idea.
That might have been just the right move -- especially if Banowsky keeps his Texas-centric vision.
This is the man who moved conference HQ from Chicago, IL, to Las Colinas, the Dallas business suburb. He has invited SMU, Houston, Rice and UTEP to be a part of C-USA. He and Miners athletic director Bob Stull have seemed pretty tight since UTEP joined the league, as well.
If Banowsky is willing to release the east, UTEP could be in some heady company with no travel beyond the Mississippi river.
In the east, C-USA bellcow Memphis has made no secret about wanting to be a part of the Big East, which is already full up for basketball schools and has Notre Dame for everything but football.
A conference shift could leave an opening for the Tigers, but they would drag a miserable football program into a league that doesn't have that strong a hold on its BCS standing even now.
A Big 10 bite that included Rutgers and possibly Pitt really makes things shaky, but Memphis hoops would be in heaven, so they still wouldn't care.
All this said, I keep trying to get finished with a promised feature on Title IX, which, to me, could play a very important role in the future of not just college athletics, but specifically college football.
A number of years ago when the College Football Association was making TV deals, before the BCS and the emergence of conferences as the big arbiters of those contracts, I speculated that football might become its own entity -- leaving athletic departments entirely, in part because of the strain of having to include football scholarships in gender equity equations.
I'm beginning to think with talk of superconferences and mega TV deals that the game is trending back that direction in some way, shape or form.
In the meantime, this is the second straight blog on conference realignment. Something tells me it won't be the last.