THE BIG ONE
Having heard Swarbrick repeatedly insist that the Irish could never join the Big Ten unless its partner, the Big East, was reduced to a smoking ruin, Delany decides to oblige them. In addition to coaxing Missouri and Nebraska to the altar, the Big Ten cherry-picks Pitt and Rutgers. With the Big East tottering on the verge of extinction, Notre Dame has no choice but to become the 16th member of the Big Ten. Fielding Yost and Jesse Harper perform simultaneous barrel rolls in their graves.
Not above shopping at a fire sale, the ACC gobbles up Cincinnati, Louisville, Syracuse and West Virginia, forming the nation's second 16-team superconference, thus meeting SEC commissioner Slive's threshold for significant paradigm shift.
His hand forced, Slive wins a bidding war with the Pac-10 for Texas, which has no interest in remaining in the suddenly second-tier Big 12. To ease the Longhorns' transition, Slive invites along Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, forcing the Big 12 to reconstitute itself with a dog's breakfast of remainders from the WAC and the Mountain West.
Emboldened by their new power, the remaining superconferences—the self-described Gang of Five—vote to jettison the NCAA and form their own league. Suddenly redundant and unfunded, that now sclerotic body dies a slow death, like the "withering away of the state" in Marxist doctrine. The Gang continues to work with the BCS, after wresting one key concession: From this point on, the national championship will be decided by a plus-one national championship game.
Doesn't that seem a little more likely than the NCAA forcing its most powerful members to make a move that they have resisted for decades?