Years from now we will look back on October 5, 2011 as the precise moment when talk of college football conference expansion went from a fever pitch to "now you're just makin' crap up for pageviews and giggles." That's because October 5, 2011 was the date some poor bastard at ESPN who probably knows better was forced at gunpoint by his editor to write the following, perhaps even with a straight face:
A source with knowledge of Tulane's situation told ESPN.com that the Green Wave have privately been making overtures to the Big East and Big 12 about possible membership but didn't want to upset Conference USA as that league looks to form a partnership with the Mountain West.
Tulane is also a member of the Association of American Universities -- the only AAU member listed as a possible addition. The prestigious AAU tag is something that the SEC has looked at as an important criterion for expansion as evidenced by the league promoting Texas A&M as one of three AAU members in the SEC in a news release announcing the Aggies' addition. Florida and Vanderbilt are the other two in the SEC. (emphasis my own because, holy crap, troll hard or troll home, WWL).
In other words, ESPN is citing an anonymous source while simultaneously linking Tu-friggin'-Lane with the Big East, Big 12, and SEC. Don't get me wrong. I like Tulane. I considered applying there until my parents put the ixnay on my plans. Apparently, they thought $100,000+ was too high a price to pay to allow their son to wander the French Quarter for 4 years, at a minimum. Father MaconDawg may or may not have insinuated that I could do just that for free if only I'd learn to play the bongos or become a better pickpocket. And if someone who has a desk at Big 12 headquarters or in the Athletic Department at Tulane says that discussions of some sort have been initiated, I suppose that qualifies as sports news. Not particularly believable or well-sourced sports news, but news nonetheless.
Yup, it was exactly like this, except the dog has hipster facial hair, a journalism degree from Northwestern, and is wondering if it's too late to go to law school. Answer? It's never too late to go to law school, nor too early to sell a kidney to pay for it.
Let's get some things straight right now. Tulane ain't joining the Big 12. The SEC probably wouldn't return their calls and didn't get that text because, you know, their service has been all weird lately and they just changed phones. And if the Green Wave winds up in the Big East it means somebody at Big East headquarters is 25 years removed from being that frat guy who used to say "Yeah, it's not the biggest pledge class on campus but, whatever, I'm really happy with every one of the pledges we got."
Read my lips: the Worldwide Leader is seriously just screwing around with you now, college football fans. They are sitting in a walnut-paneled room with Deloss Dodds, Chip Brown, the Easter Bunny, Woody Hayes, Madeline Kahn, and the other members of the Trilateral Commission huffing ether and laughing at your expense. Do not give them the pleasure. But if you happen to know anybody in the athletic department at Missouri, could you shoot me a quick email?