Now that most of the dust has settled from conference expansion, let's see what we have learned.
1. Notre Dame is not the most powerful school in the country. That designation now belongs to Texas. Texas was able to turn college football on its head and then put it back on its feet, all in less than one week. The Longhorns had grown men fearing for their futures and desperately begging Texas to keep the status quo. Most importantly, Texas was able to leverage more money and control in the Big 12.
2. Expansion is all about money. Being good in football or basketball took a back row seat to other factors like the size of a school's local media market, the number of television sets that watch a school's games, and the impact on travel costs. Each conference did not hide that they would not expand if the current membership would not receive as much TV and other monies. Schools that have not fielded competitive teams in years (Colorado) were viewed more favorably than schools that win more than anyone else (Boise State). Schools that are very logical additions geographically (Pitt) are being rejected for schools that expand the conference footprint (Nebraska).
3. There are no loyalties. Each school will do what is best for it. While conferences were created to better the collective group, that won't stop one part of that group from leaving if a better offer comes along. Utah, with a BYU grad as school president and a former BYU player as its head football coach, had no concern about the impacts of its move on BYU and the rest of the Mountain West. Colorado couldn't accept the Pac-10's invite fast enough to throw Baylor to the curb. While doom and gloom was being forecasted for Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and Iowa State, Nebraska happily jumped to the safety of the Big 10. The Boise State Broncos probably have not thought twice about how the WAC will be the Sun Belt of the West once they leave.
4. The Pac-10 is properly situation on the left coast. I, for one, was shocked to see the way certain schools in that conference openly opposed the addition of religious schools like Baylor and BYU. Come on, this is sports we are talking about. Why are you going to let liberal ideas get in the way of a good sports competition? Each conference has its own identity, but it is hard to find another conference that cares more about its identity than the Pac-10.
5. The power of the people. From the outset last December, all conferences proclaimed that this would be a 12 to 18 month process. That did not stop fans and media from talking about expansion and postulating expansion scenarios. Facts and data were being thrown out left and right arguing the merits of School A vs. School B. Demands for updates and leaks to the media fueled the fire. The people were heard and a mere six months later, the Big 10 and Pac 10 have made their moves (as well as the Mountain West, but that was more reactionary). The Big 12 is uncertain what it will do, but be assured that whatever timetable is set will be sped up by the people pushing for a resolve.