Conference realignment changed our world! OK, not really. It tweaked things here and there -- a couple of teams left the Big 12, a couple of teams went to the Pac-10, a couple of teams went to the Big Ten -- but it didn't fundamentally alter the landscape of college basketball in the way we once feared it would.
What conference realignment did do is make things incredibly irritating for people who like numerical organization. The Pac-10 now has 12 teams. The Big Ten now has 12 teams. The Big 12 now has 10 teams. Sure, each conference's name has more to do with brand than accuracy -- the Big Ten has been rolling with its deceptive moniker since Penn State joined the conference in 1993 -- but still, that's confusing stuff.
Since this order was finalized, most assumed the conferences would stick with their names. Then, this week, the Pac-10 announced it would be changing its name to the Pac-12. That announcement was highlighted by commissioner Larry Scott's declaration that the conference will be "mathematically correct going forward."
The question now is, will other conferences do the same? ESPN's Big 12 blogger David Ubben sat in on Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's press conference Wednesday. Beebe's answer: maybe.
"I'm going to spend the next eight to nine months, prior to our next year when we have 10 members, fully exploring what we want to do in that regard," he said.
"I've heard of conferences that have not had the exact numbers they have in their names actually be representing their membership," Beebe deadpanned in the direction of the Big Ten [...] "I think we need to look at not just whether we change our name or our brand, but what are the messages we want to convey going forward? We'll engage in a process to do that and hopefully in the spring, early summer next year, we'll have a better idea of what we want to do going forward."
David thinks the conference will ultimately end up sticking with the name, which is a fair prediction. After all, despite Beebe's joke of a swap between him and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, it's not as if the Big 12 can just change its name to the Big Ten. That would be even more confusing than the current situation. And somehow, "10 Teams From The Lower Midwest, The South, And The Great Plains States," doesn't quite roll off the tongue.
Still, it's interesting to contemplate. In the end, maybe a batch of new conference names will be the lasting legacy of the realignment-dominated summer of 2010. I could live with that.