MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- At 1 a.m. Sunday, Bob Bowlsby was doing the work of a major conference commissioner and watching fireworks above the Fort Worth Stockyards.
A while later, the celebration welcoming Texas Christian into Bowlsby's Big 12 Conference was over and he was off to bed.
A flight a few hours later would take him to a similar event here commemorating West Virginia's entry into the Big 12.
"It was a little bit of a short night," he said at Touchdown Terrace above the south end zone at Mountaineer Field.
That brevity served as an appropriate bookend for this strange story that was a long time in the making.
In June 2010, Bowlsby was the athletic director at Stanford, in what was then the Pac-10 Conference, and part of the group that had searched for that league's new commissioner, Larry Scott, a year earlier.
One of Scott's first moves was pulling Colorado from the Big 12.
A few days after that was done, it sure looked like some combination of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - and perhaps all of them - would make the same move and level the Big 12.
Yet two years later, Bowlsby is running the Big 12 as it stands tall and extends its muscled arms to embrace WVU and TCU.
"It's kind of ironic," he said. "I don't know that I care to get into talking too much about the details - I obviously have information on both sides and I don't think it's appropriate to share - but I think there were a lot of conferences scratching around to find out what's the right size and I think the Pac-12 was in that situation, too.
"There seemed to be some opportunities with that list of schools and there were certainly some conversations, but beyond that, I'm glad the Big 12 stayed together and that I'm here to work with them and I'm glad the eight remaining members added two quality schools."
Conference expansion has produced some unbelievable headlines the past 24 months and left college athletics with a Big Ten that has 12 schools and a Big 12 that has 10.
Syracuse was a founding member of the Big East Conference in 1979 and Pitt had been in the league nearly as long. They announced in September their plans to join the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Western Athletic Conference, once the biggest and one of the most entertaining football leagues, is all but dead. The Mountain West pulled several of the WAC's members, but then lost Boise State to the Big East. The Big East will soon count teams from Idaho, Texas and California, as well as a Temple team it once evicted, but no teams from New York, Massachusetts, Virginia or Maryland.
What's happened with the Big 12 is no less startling. Somehow, WVU, which has been overlooked by the ACC in multiple expansions, is the first school from the Eastern Time Zone to be in the Big 12.