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Colorado starts league shifting

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — College athletics are on the verge of a monumental shift, a realignment that could disintegrate one conference, turn others into 16-school goliaths and have huge financial implications on some of the biggest programs in the country.

The first card flipped on Thursday, when Colorado ditched the Big 12 for the Pac-10. Next up appear to be Nebraska and Missouri, both facing decisions that could spark another exodus and the collapse of the Big 12.

“(Now) the first move is made, I think you’ll see the dominos start falling,” said Joel Maxcey, sports economist at the University of Georgia.

It’s already been a wild ride.

The Big Ten started it off by exploring plans to expand, an effort it hoped would add more eyes to its successful cable network and reach the NCAA minimum of 12 teams required to hold a conference championship game in football.

The Big Ten’s big grab led to harried calls between rivals, political ploys and behind-the-scenes maneuvering as schools across the country look to make sure they’re not standing alone, pockets empty, when the music stops.