One question has been answered. Now there are countless others:
Will the Big Ten stop at 12? Will Notre Dame finally cave and join Rutgers to form a 14-team conference? How long will Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany wait before closing the curtain on this expansion? Is it a certainty that a conference title game will be created?
And how about this for a riddle: Just how did the Big Ten become the Big 12 and the Big 12 dissolve into the Big 10 (for now)?
But first a refresher for those Chicago-area fans who have thought about nothing but icing, forechecking and Patrick Kane's mullet for the last two months: Nebraska will be joining the Big Ten.
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"A huge coup," ESPN analyst and former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit called it. "Big Ten fans should be elated. There's something so cool about that red 'N' on the white helmet. And when you think about Nebraska playing teams like Penn State or Michigan or Ohio State, it's something special."
Nebraska is expected to make the announcement Friday. The Big Ten, as usual, had no comment Thursday on any of the reports and rumors, including a wild one from Kansas City television station KCTV.
The report claimed that Texas and Texas A&M, whose officials huddled Thursday, have "petitioned" the Big Ten for membership and that Oklahoma wants to join the Southeastern Conference.
It's worth repeating that it makes no sense for Texas to join the Big Ten -- from having to cough up travel costs for its 18 teams to destroying its rivalries with Oklahoma and Texas Tech to taking its highly ranked baseball team to a conference that's less than elite in that sport.
Let's not forget the Kansas City radio report from one month ago asserting that the Big Ten had extended invitations to Missouri, Nebraska and Notre Dame. Not only was that report premature, it whiffed regarding the Tigers.
Mizzou officials confirmed that the Big Ten has not checked the "You like me" box. After publicly lobbying to join the Big Ten, the school took the embarrassing step Thursday of circulating an e-mail to campus officials reminding them to tell the media: "We are proud members of the Big 12."
That's no longer the case for Colorado, which has left the Big 12 for the Pac-10.
If the Pac-10 does plump to 16 teams (by adding Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State), conference officials reportedly will push for two automatic bids to Bowl Championship Series games.
BCS INSTABILITY, TV MONEY
That threat might help push Notre Dame into accepting a Big Ten bid. Herbstreit believes Notre Dame "has to" go the conference route because of that BCS instability and the extra revenue derived from the Big Ten's lucrative combo TV deal (ESPN/ABC and the Big Ten Network).
"I'm not a Notre Dame hater," Herbstreit said, "just a Notre Dame realist. When you look across the landscape and where we are headed, it becomes very important for them to align themselves with one of these power conferences."
Notre Dame also could face additional pressure from its TV partner, NBC, which Comcast has acquired.
Industry analysts are certain the Notre Dame deal is a money loser for NBC. In 2008, the network agreed to an extension that pays the school an estimated $12 million to $13 million per year.
At the time NBC President Ken Schanzer spoke in comically glowing terms of the "elegance of the institution" and knowing that Irish officials will "comport themselves in ways that make you proud to be associated with them and allow you to live in the reflected glory of that nobility."
Assuming Comcast cares more about its bottom line than "reflected glory," the company could push to move some of Notre Dame's lesser games from NBC to its cable sports outlet, Versus. (Efforts to reach NBC executives were not successful.) That might give Notre Dame another impetus to seek the Big Ten's greener pastures.
But enough about that.
In Nebraska, the Big Ten has reeled in a school, Herbstreit said, "with a huge fan base, a huge following, a huge stadium and an awesome atmosphere. They don't tailgate up to the last minute; the stadium is full an hour before. And it's a program where football means everything. The women know everything about the players. So do the grandmas and the kids.
"Big Red nation is 12 months a year. In June they might be asking: 'What about our tight end; how can we get him more involved in the offense?' "
This year that fan base also is wondering: What's next for our league?
© 2010, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.