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Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott does not plan to expand the conference, but he did not rule anything out.
While we wait for the late-summer conference realignment scramble, let's go ahead and prepare ourselves for the best and the worst.
If we're going to follow conference realignment as if it's a sport, we might as well come up with a scoring system.
Which college teams are in which conferences now, and where will they be next year? Not only do we have all 11 conferences in list form, we've got some projections for the future.
The conference realignment train has cooled for the time being, now that Temple's made its way back to the Big East. Let's take a look at what a fine mess we've all gotten ourselves into.
Need a refresher on the latest round of college conference realignment as we enter the 2012 football offseason? You're in luck!
TCU to the Big 12? Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC? Everybody to the Mountain USA? What has the recent realignment drama done to the actual balance of power on the college football field?
As soon as the Pac-12 voted not to expand, thereby eliminating the option of adding schools like Oklahoma to the mix, the Sooners went on the offensive with the fantastic spin tactic, "We wanted to stay in the Big 12 anyway."
Turns out that might not have been exactly true after all.
...contrary to another report suggesting OU simply feigned interest in the Pac-12 from the beginning only to gain leverage on Texas, a high-level OU athletic department source explained that the Sooners had acted in good faith and had been planning to apply for Pac-12 membership.
"The plan was to go," the source told SoonerNation.
According to the source, it was Oklahoma Sooners head football coach Bob Stoops, who was a proponent of staying in the Big 12. There's also one person claiming that Oklahoma actually pre-denied the Pac-12 before it publicly denied Oklahoma. So, I guess, it depends who you believe.
Now that the notion of Pac-12 expansion is dead, at least for the moment, Commissioner Larry Scott is talking about the end of the potential mega-deal that could have brought Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and perhaps Texas and Texas Tech to the westernmost BCS conference. Among the new details: Scott actually began telling Pac-12 presidents that he didn't think they should make the deal on Monday, the same day that Texas and Oklahoma's boards authorized their presidents to explore other conferences.
So what caused the deal to go under? Scott doesn't say exactly, but the commish vaguely gestures in the direction of the Longhorn Network, long thought to be the main barrier to landing Texas.
But the Pac-12's condition for membership will be non-negotiable, Scott said: Equal revenue sharing. Even if that means leaving money on the table.
Said Scott, "An opportunity was turned down that could have generated more money for the schools but potentially could have torn apart the fabric of the culture of the conference."
Since Texas is apparently open to more equally sharing the revenues from the Big 12 contract, the hang-up would appear to have been Tier 3 rights. Those are the kind that the Longhorn Newtork is built around.
As for the bit about Oklahoma playing the Pac-12 to get concessions from the Big 12. A dealmaker and businessman like Scott has to respect the supposed strategy. Even if he doesn't completely believe it.
"I have nothing but respect for the leadership of the University of Oklahoma," he said. "I don't want to contradict anything that they feel they need to say as part of the process they are in."
Of course, the odds that we will ever know exactly what happened are fairly small. But fans of several Big 12 schools are just glad that it's over.
For more on where the conference goes from there, go to Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes. See the Longhorn perspective on things at Texas blog Burnt Orange Nation. To get a look at what Sooners fans are thinking, head over to Oklahoma blog Crimson And Cream Machine.
The college conference realignment news is changing by the hour, so QUICK, hurry up and read our breakdown of exactly what we know as of right now. It'll certainly be different by tomorrow.
Just when it seemed conference realignment news would dwarf the college football season it was butting up against, it's time to call the whole thing off -- for now. Well, at least the big stuff, as the Pac-12 won't be expanding during this go-round. You'll be shocked to learn the Texas Longhorns had a lot to do with it.
This means Texas, along with the Oklahoma Sooners and each of their jogging buddies, won't be leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12 at this point. No Big 12-Big East merger. No Baylor lawsuits.
This doesn't mean Texas A&M will turn back from the SEC, nor does it mean the remaining Big 12 members are all cool with the Longhorn Network all of a sudden. The SEC also has the tricky issue of evening out its divisions, which are set to feature seven teams and six teams in 2012 (West Virginia and even Missouri could still be options, but count out Oklahoma, by the way).
The Big East may pick up a few schools to offset its impending losses to the ACC. The ACC might help itself to more Big East schools -- like, say, UConn, which still wants out. There are still rumblings, but they shouldn't be interpreted as aftershocks. They're still pre-tremors. In 2010, the college sports world moved a step closer to the football megaconference future, and in 2011 it did the same.
The Big 12 may be able to reform itself and become a major piece of that future, but hopefully we can wait to worry about it until next summer. All of a sudden the college football season is about to reclaim center stage, and for that we can thank the Pac-12.
Current Pac-12 schools will vote on expansion at some point later this week, requiring at least 9 votes to approve.
The Oklahoma Sooners haven't left the Big 12 yet. In fact, they're giving the conference one last chance to shape up before they pack their in-state rival and head west. The Sooners have a list of demands, according to The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel, including the obvious trimming and containment of the Longhorn Network. That part is no surprise.
And according to Tramel's source, the replacement of current commissioner Dan Beebe with "an interim commissioner" would be one of the "major, major reforms" required to keep the Sooners from leaving. Whoa.
Beebe has been perhaps the BCS' most unpopular conference commissioner, at least until CBS Sports scooped Big East commissioner John Marinatto on the exit of two Big East teams. Oklahoma has reason to give the Big 12 a shot at keeping established rivalries intact, but that's quite a line in the sand they're drawing if this report is accurate.
Either way, Oklahoma means much, much more to the Big 12 than Beebe does (which is so obvious that it feels dumb to even type), so if it were as simple as one or the other, there would be no question on which would be out. But there's a lot more to it than just that.
For more on OU, visit Oklahoma Sooners blog Crimson And Cream Machine.
To understand Oklahoma's decision between fleeing for the Pac-12 and patching together the Big 12, first understand David Boren.
Now that the Oklahoma Board of Regents has given its President the go-ahead to talk with the Pac-12, the Texas Board of Regents has gone ahead and done the same thing.
Texas Longhorns President Bill Powers now has the official authority to take "any necessary actions" regarding conference realignment. Ultimately, any change in UT's conference affiliation would be to be approved by the Board of Regents as well.
If Texas decides to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-12, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are expected to go with them. They would also be able to keep the Longhorn Network, albeit with some changes to appease the Pac-12 media deal.
The University could also try and save the Big 12, explore their options with the ACC or go independent. If Powers decides to stay in the Big 12, he does not need the board's approval. Powers told the media that he would have no more comment until the process is over.
Monday, the University of Oklahoma's board of regents granted school president David Boren authority to take action regarding conference realignment.
The move means that the Oklahoma Sooners can now officially apply for membership into the Pac-12, as they have been rumored to be doing. The Sooners have already been in "informal" discussions with the Pac-12 to see how their addition would work.
The rumored expansion of the Pac-12 includes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech, though much of that depends on Oklahoma and Texas' ultimate interest in doing so.
Boren told reporters on Monday that the decision did not necessarily mean the Sooners are leaving the Big 12. Boren did admit that Oklahoma has been speaking with Oklahoma State on the matter as well.
Boren also said that he felt "threatening litigation is no way to keep a conference together," in regards to threats by Baylor and other Pac-12 schools who want to keep members from leaving.
For more on these schools, check out Texas Longhorns blog Burnt Orange Nation, Oklahoma Sooners blog Crimson And Cream Machine, Oklahoma State blog Cowboys Ride For Free and Texas Tech blog Double T Nation. And Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes.
Contrary to a report in the Austin-American Statesman, Jon Wilner reports the Pac-12 and the Texas Longhorns still have significant hurdles left to clear before the Horns could join the conference. According to Wilner (and others), the Longhorn Network-tailored revenue sharing agreement the Statesman describes doesn't quite go far enough.
The Texaswide Leader would need to "be folded into the Pac-12 regional model," Wilner reports, making it more of a Texas-centric Pac-12 outlet than, well, a Longhorn Network. But from the sounds of it, being an equal partner of the Pac-12 could make Texas more money than the LHN would anyway.
Media outlets from Texas are reporting the deal is almost done, while media outlets from the coast are reporting it isn't. You could presume the real answer is somewhere in between, if you wanted.
Those three entities in the title are listed in descending order of importance in this matter, of course.
As the Big East has already lost two of its football-playing schools and could lose three more if the Big Ten and ACC help themselves, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have found themselves with a tenuous home for their Olympic sports.
While the Irish remain a football independent, it would be hard to imagine them choosing to leave their basketball in a dilapidated conference with few other nationally branded institutions and no shot at a top media deal -- not to mention one that could soon be upstaged in its own home. Either way, Notre Dame remains the most-prized item on the market for the Big Ten, Big 12, Big East and ACC.
So when Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick comments on conference realignment, it's important:
I don't understand it. How do you vote as a collegiate president on something that has the potential to provide some benefit for your institution and the conference you're affiliated with but has a very negative consequence for a host of other members of the academy, as presidents like to call it?
Also, "a congressman from a state with a university that could be harmed by realignment" is making noise about using the federal government to force other schools to play sports with a school his constituents happen to favor. And NCAA president Mark Emmert wants everybody to settle down.
For more, head to Notre Dame blog One Foot Down.
The long-awaited move by the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners, plus their respective satellites, to the Pac-12 is almost here, according to reports. The most prominent: the Austin-American Statesman reports the two and the Oklahoma St. Cowboys and Texas Tech Red Raiders are "working out the final details of a deal."
The most interesting piece of that report, which also brings up pod scheduling, is how the Pac-12 could handle the Longhorn Network, given the conference's stringent revenue sharing requirements. In exchange for the Texaswide Leader having to carry Pac-12 content, there could be a built-in way for Texas to still profit from the open-market sale of its third-tier media rights. That's the way we're reading it, at least.
According to the report:
The Longhorns would be able to keep all of their revenue from the network if that amount is greater than one-sixteenth of what the entire Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. However, if one-sixteenth of the money the Pac-12 receives from third-tier rights ends up being a larger amount, the schools would divide the revenue evenly.
The Longhorn Network could become the burnt orange version of the Pac-Whatever Network. This is one of the first things in the entire conference realignment maze that sounds like it makes complete sense for everybody involved, right?
For more on these schools, check out Texas Longhorns blog Burnt Orange Nation, Oklahoma Sooners blog Crimson And Cream Machine, Oklahoma State blog Cowboys Ride For Free and Texas Tech blog Double T Nation. And Pac-12 blog Pacific Takes.
The Texas Board of Regents will convene on Monday, and one of the items on the agenda deals with conference alignment. As is typical in these expansion wars, Texas president Bill Powers will reportedly be given the authorization to make all decisions with regards to the Longhorns' conference alignment going forward. And thus, the mysterious conference alignment agenda item is solved.
Texas, at its Monday regents meeting, will authorize president Bill Powers to act in its best interest in picking its conference.
This phrase certainly sounds familiar. In fact, we've heard it many times before when conference expansion heats up and schools begin weighing their options. It does not, however, mean Texas is going anywhere.
Instead, Powers will be driving the bus, or not taking it out of the driveway at all. If the Big 12 falls apart, Powers could steer the Longhorns to the ACC or the Pac-1?, among many other places. Powers has a plethora of options, and a difficult decision ahead of him.
For more, visit Texas Longhorns blog Burnt Orange Nation.
From the looks of it, Monday may be a big day for the future of the Big 12. We already know Oklahoma will hold a Board of Regents meeting on Monday, with conference alignment on the agenda. Now, Texas will get together, as well, holding a Board of Regents meeting with the same item on the agenda. Conspiracy theorists, assemble!
Here's the agenda for the Texas meeting, which includes vague and cryptic items related to conference alignment.
U. T. Austin: Discussion and appropriate action regarding potential legal issues related to athletic conference membership and contracting
U. T. Austin: Discussion and appropriate action regarding delegation to act on matters related to athletic conference membership and contracting
The first item above will take place during a closed session and the second will be out in the open. It should be a slammin' good time.
Texas is sitting in the driver's seat again, and has plenty of options on the table, including: keeping the Big 12 alive, taking its talents west to the Pac-1? and heading east to the ACC. What happens next is anyone's guess.
For more, visit Texas Longhorns blog Burnt Orange Nation.
The lil ole Baylor Bears are still doing what they can to keep the happy Big 12 family shackled together, taking the matter to Congress. School president Ken Starr, famous for doing some stuff in D.C. in a previous career, met with two dozen lawmakers Wednesday and Thursday to ... OK:
A lobbyist familiar with Starr's visit, which began Wednesday and ends today, tells PI that the push is about Starr "really trying to convey that you have to have the student athletes' interests at heart first before chasing after the biggest contractual agreements" with television networks.
For more on the "student-athlete" rhetorical device, set aside some time for Taylor Branch's landmark piece on the NCAA. Also, more TV contract money means schools can build better facilities and hire better coaches and maybe even send some money outside of athletic departments. All of those things enhance the student-athlete's collegiate experience. So.
It's full steam ahead for the Oklahoma Sooners, who are officially on the hunt for a new conference home away from the crumbling Big 12.
The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents will convene soon to discuss imminent matters of conference realignment on Monday (PDF).
"The Board of Regents will discuss potential legal ramifications of athletic conference realignment options and/or consider new athletic conference membership and take any appropriate action. An executive session may be proposed pursuant to Section 307B.4 of the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act."
Texas A&M went through the same process en route to leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. As for where Oklahoma will go from here, well, we will have to wait and see.
You can bet schools like Missouri, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State will be eagerly-awaiting news as well.
Brady Deaton, the chancellor of the University of Missouri and the Big 12's board chairman, discussed the state of the conference Thursday with Vahe Gregorian. Deaton expects the Oklahoma Sooners to make their conference alignment interests known within the next two weeks, adding that he thinks the Big 12 can survive even if it loses OU and the Oklahoma St. Cowboys.
He also told Gregorian that there's no specific deadline for Oklahoma to make its decision by, and that the Big 12 is going to have to wait until the Oklahoma schools pick a landing spot before adding new members.
Deaton is in an interesting spot, as he's both vested in the future of the conference and in a school that has every reason to look elsewhere. Mizzou has been attached by rumors and reports to both the Big Ten and SEC over the past two years of conference shuffling.
As The Big 12 implodes, the University of Texas is realizing that they might have to do a little more scrambling than initially intended to make sure their future is in good hands.
With Texas A&M gone to the SEC and the Oklahoma schools applying for Pac-12 membership, the Longhorns are apparently working on three viable options for their next move, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
If the Big 12 implodes, Texas would have to decide between pushing for membership in the Pac-12 or Atlantic Coast Conference or turning independent, an option Dodds has always strongly opposed.
"Texas' first choice is to keep the Big 12 together. That's always been and continues to be Plan A and B," a well-placed Texas source said. "However, they know that if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State leave, the conference is no longer viable. Then it's time to look at Plan C."
Considering there isn't going to be much of a Big 12 worth saving, expect Texas to look elsewhere soon. The most logical choice seems to be the Pac-12, but then again when is anything in the world of NCAA football logical?
For more on Texas and conference realignment talk, visit Texas blog Burnt Orange Nation.
High-ranking representative from the University of Texas, including athletic direct DeLoss Dodds, traveled to Norman, Oklahoma on Sunday to meet with the Sooners decision-makers about conference realignment, according to a report. The Sooners have been mulling a move, perhaps to the Pac-12, with their current home, the Big 12, looking less than stable, leaving the remaining teams scrambling to find a landing spot should the conference implode.
According to the report, which comes from the AP, Texas sent its big guns, to meet with Oklahoma president David Boren and others.
Texas President William Powers Jr., athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky were among a group of Texas officials who went to Oklahoma on Sunday, according to a person at a Big 12 school who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the meeting.
In all likelihood, the Longhorns were working to keep the Sooners around, and away from the Pac-12. Texas, with its Longhorn Network, stands to benefit the most should the Big 12 survive the round of Big 12 expansion and would seem to be spearheading the effort to keep the nine remaining members in-tact. But should one or more teams abandon ship, all bets are off.
Texas A&M will reportedly join the SEC in 2012 and the dominoes are beginning to tilt in the world of college athletics. The Aggies were the first to move in this wave of conference realignment, but likely won't be the last. In fact, the next few weeks may shape the future of college athletics.
Naturally, Big 12 schools are beginning to scramble. Monday's announcement that Texas A&M would become an SEC member triggered digging, made all the more complicated by scheduled Board of Regents meetings.
Missouri has a Board of Regents, or Curators, meeting conveniently scheduled on Monday night, with a mysterious agenda item on the docket.
Here's the Mizzou posting for its BOR meeting. All executive session. Pres search and mystery item. bit.ly/oa3IO3
Oklahoma also has a Board of Regents meeting scheduled for a week from Monday, and it John Hoover added a cryptic note about negotiations.
OU regents will meet in Claremore, OK on Mon. My source on Board was asked not to talk. "Negotiations are sensitive," he said.
As Bryan Fischer notes, the Sooners' moves may have opened the gates for Texas A&M to join the SEC.
Looks like OU deciding to go West is what A&M/SEC needed as a intervening cause to get rid of Baylor's legal threat.
Just two days after saying "thanks, but no thanks" in response to a question about the Pac-12 adding teams, Larry Scott has softened his words. On the heels of the SEC's acceptance of Texas A&M's application for admission, Scott issued another statement, leaving the door open for expansion. But it comes with a qualifier: Scott said the Pac-12 will consider expansion, but only if schools begin to bolt from the Big 12.
Here's Scott's statement, courtesy of Bryan Fischer.
Larry Scott: "If schools are going to leave the Big 12 and there's going to be a paradigm shift, or a landscape change as people like to describe it, we'll go ahead and step back and look at our options, then reconsider (expansion)."
Translation: If Oklahoma shows up at our doorstep, we're probably going to listen. At some point, the college landscape will shift, but we just don't know when. Texas A&M could've been the first domino, or the next move -- be it a 14th SEC member or teams parachuting out of the Big 12 Cessna -- will blow up the entire landscape. Either way, it's coming.
The Texas A&M Aggies will head for the SEC once the Baylor Bears can be convinced to not sue anybody in the process. But what about the Oklahoma Sooners, who've reportedly been having California dreams (I'm taking about the Pac-12 via song titles) for at least a year now.
Oklahoma to the Pac-12 could be about to happen, according to Chip Brown, who cites "a source close to OU's administration" that is probably Texas' administration, because the two are indeed likely close. According to Brown, the Sooners will apply for Pac-12 membership by the end of September, several weeks into actual, on-field Big 12 play.
Pretty cool how thanks to realignment there are basically two entire college football seasons going on right now, only one of which is football. No, it is not cool.
Boy, what an exciting college football weekend. Can't wait to look ahead to the next week's schedule and keep reading up on Saturday's games. Or TALKING ABOUT CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT. PERFECT.
Annoyingly, the Oklahoma Sooners are all but set to apply for Pac-12 admission, according to Chip Brown. The Oklahoma St. Cowboys serving as Oklahoma's traveling partner has been a part of the popularly accepted scenario for a while now. Both schools considered the jump last year before the Big 12 cleared the Texas Longhorns to start printing money if they stayed. It's complicated.
Kirk Bohls, Austin-American Statesman columnist, reports University of Texas president William Powers, Jr. and athletic directors DeLoss Dodds and Christine Plonsky traveled to Norman in an effort to convince Oklahoma to stick around again. Bohls also says the Texas Tech Red Raiders weren't notified about the excursion. (In the four-team Pac-12 exodus scenario, the Red Raiders will supposedly accompany Texas west.)
Texas A&M's official move to the SEC could be the domino everyone is waiting for, or maybe subsequent dominos really aren't all that close to each other. And the first domino just kind of falls over without hitting any others. Worst domino trick ever.
Pretty weird that a small, Baptist institution in Waco, Texas could be holding up the biggest mass realignment in college sports history. Maybe not all that weird. But once the Baylor Bears eventually work out their issues with Texas A&M joining the SEC, an entire heartland conference could split. And that's just the beginning.
According to a George Schroeder report, the Pac-12 is waiting on the SEC to make its move. At that point, the Pac-16 could be a reality within a week or so. The scenario's usual names are included: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas. But about Texas ...
Jon Wilner reports the Longhorns don't want to move west due to cultural differences and perceived academic differences. The Pac-16 could get along just fine even without Texas, but the Horns' next move would help determine how much all this affects the rest of the country.
Texas could fight to keep the Big 12 together or just cash in and go independent. At either of those points, everything happens all at once.
Also, there's a college football season going on right now.
The Texas Longhorns may run the Big 12 like it's their own personal satellite system, but they'll always have traditional rivals Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Well, Texas A&M is going to the SEC. So they'll always have Oklahoma. But Oklahoma wants to go to the Pac-12, it seems. So maybe Texas is all #lonelytweet after all.
Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops grants that if Texas and Oklahoma end up in different conferences, the Red River Rivalry could effectively be ended. Judge for yourself whether he's talking just to get through questions, but it's feasible. While the two wouldn't split with any particular animosity, other than Oklahoma's concerns about the Longhorn Network, their much more valuable rivalry could conceivably meet a similar fate as the Lone Star Showdown.
All signs -- well, at least a sign or two -- point to Oklahoma taking Oklahoma State out west. If that were to happen, Texas could basically be forced to either follow along, turn independent or be stuck with conference mates like Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and whatever minor Texas schools it could collect.
The Pac-12 would accept Oklahoma as a member, but only if it had to according to a report from the San Jose Mercury News. According to unnamed sources, the Pac-12 has everything the want right now including a rich TV contract and a conference championship game. However, if Texas A&M jumped to the SEC forcing the conference to expand to 14 or 16 teams along with the Big Ten, the Pac-12 would quickly follow suit, entertaining membership for the likes Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
"The SEC won't stop at 13, or even 14. And if the SEC is at 14 or 16, the Big Ten will do it," a source said. "At that point, (the Pac-12) would be crazy not to entertain the idea of expansion."
According to the report, Missouri would most likely be the SEC's 14th team should Texas A&M drop. Texas could join the Pac-12 along with Texas Tech, but the Longhorns would have to agree to an equal share in revenue. If not, they may go independent.
For more conference expansion craziness, stay tuned to our storystream.
The Oklahoma Sooners are getting closer to a move to the Pac-12, and they'll probably be taking a few of their Big 12 brethren with them. According to NewsOK, Pac-12 officials didn't meet with Oklahoma on their trip to Dallas because they didn't have to. Oklahoma already has their eyes on the move.
Oklahoma State is likely to do whatever Oklahoma does, meaning the Pac-12 sounds pretty close to becoming a Pac-14 without doing any major hard selling to anyone else. Of course, their ultimate goal is not a 14 team league, leaving them to pursue more schools to fill out a potential 16-team conference. Currently, their targets after Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are believed to be Texas and Texas Tech.
If the Big 12 were to die a fiery death as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas departed, the Pac-12 probably wouldn't have to do a whole lot to convince Texas Tech to join their ranks. This leaves Texas, who are going to take some serious selling and compromise to get into the Pac-12.
Thanks to the Longhorn Network, Texas and the Pac-12 will have conflicting media strategies and that just aren't going to work out. However, a dead conference is no use to Texas and Texas is the crowned jewel in this whole conference realignment mess, so if all of this really is going down, it seems likely that the two sides could come to a compromise.
Sit tight, folks. Conference realignment talk is going to be just as prevalent as talk about actual football this Fall.
The Oklahoma St. Cowboys at least waited for everybody to digest the news that the Oklahoma Sooners are exploring their options elsewhere to announce that they're doing the same. You can go ahead and figure they'll attempt to accompany Oklahoma to the Pac-12 (or SEC!) if that ends up being the move,
Keeping Okie State for the sake of keeping Okie State isn't mission critical to the Big 12, but losing both Oklahoma schools would essentially make the conference nothing but Texas and, um, Robert Griffin III, and he really doesn't have all that much eligibility left. Kansas, just keep playing basketball and somebody will come by to collect you.
You'll note it's only the Big 12 schools who could actually tempt another power conference that are putting out statements like this. These comments, along with BYU's, could be very good markers for the next round of realignment.
For more Cowboys, head to Oklahoma State blog Cowboys Ride For Free.
There's no time like the opening Saturday of the college football season to answer the eternal question: "Wait, who's in which conference now?"
It's the day before the first college football Saturday of the year and realignment talk has reappeared again. In a time when the focus should be on football, and the follies of Morgan Newton, it's all about money, the implosion of the Big 12 and superconferences again.
The latest involves Oklahoma and a package that would create the Pac-16. That package, according to Jon Wilner, includes Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. In other words, a similar scenario to last summer.
If Texas is part of the league’s expansion puzzle, the other teams would be Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
If Texas is not part of the puzzle, I was told, the conference would have to be convinced that there’s a combination of four schools, obviously including Oklahoma, that would not cause the per-school revenue to decrease.
It's all guesswork, but this time around Oklahoma is reportedly leading the charge.
Sooners athletic director Joe Castiglione isn't talking, but that sure isn't stopping Oklahoma president David Boren from speaking his mind. Boren is uncertain about the future of the Big 12, but expects something to happen fast, putting a two- to three-week timetable on a conference decision, it seems. He added that Oklahoma tried to fight Texas A&M's decision to leave the conference, but to no avail.
Finally, Boren said "I don't think OU will wind up being a wallflower on this in the end" and that the school is "active" at the moment. So is Oklahoma spearheading a charge to either find a replacement for Texas A&M or find a new home? From his comments, it sure seems likely.
The Big 12 could be saved, with Boren saying the goal is to get back to 12 teams. But reading between the lines, his words sound more like a eulogy than words intended to revive the conference.
We always talk about the "four 16-team conference" scenarios as the conference realignment end game, but without dissolving all conferences and starting over, that really isn't an option.
With just weeks to go before the start of the college football season, rumors of Texas A&M's impending move to the SEC has set off a familiar chain-reaction amongst fans, the media and especially fellow universities.
Big 12 member Oklahoma, arguably the 2nd-most influential school in the conference, isn't going to sit around and wait to see what happens. According to reports, they've in full-on discussion mode to prepare their next move.
OU officials spent Thursday and early Friday discussing the various options should A&M leave the 10-team Big 12. Some favor trying to keep the Big 12 together, while others favor seeking new conference alignments. The Pac-12 is the most-discussed option, since the then-Pac-10 offered an invitation last summer, but some have brought up the Big Ten.
As always, this should be prefaced with the fact that nothing has actually happened yet. However, if and when Texas A&M is the first domino to fall, expect Oklahoma to be ready with their next move.
It was previously reported that the Pac-12 Conference would have North and South Divisions. That turned out to be right, but the divisions will look a little different.
The Pac-12 just announced its divisions for the 2011 season. They are as follows:
That would seem to give recent titans Oregon and USC a fairly clear path to future Pac-12 Championship Game clashes. But if those two teams were to meet next year, the game will take place not at a neutral site, but in either Eugene or Los Angeles.
That's because the Pac-12 additionally announced that the inaugural conference championship game will be hosted by the team with the best overall conference record. It's an interesting choice for a conference that spans the entirety of the West Coast, but would seem to be a good way of ensuring a full stadium.
Pod 1: NW schools.
Pod 2: CA schools.
Pod 3: AZ and MTN schools.
Each year, you'd play everyone in your pod and three of the four teams in each of the other pods. (For instance: The NW schools would play three of the four CA schools every year.)
However, Pac-10 officials may have run afoul of NCAA bylaws in creating this system, because in order to have a championship game, there must be a round-robin schedule between divisions:
22.214.171.124 Annual Exemptions. [FBS/FCS] The maximum number of football contests shall exclude the following: c) Twelve-Member Conference Championship Game. [FBS/FCS] A conference championship game between division champions of a member conference of 12 or more institutions that is divided into two divisions (of six or more institutions each), each of which conducts round-robin, regular-season competition among the members of that division;
With Colorado jumping ship early and making the Pac-10 the Pac-12 in 2011, the conference was quickly faced with the task of creating divisions.
While the schools' athletic directors aren't planning to meet until Oct. 6-7, a time when they will discuss just how to split up the 12 teams, Chip Brown (of course) is already reporting that the "Pac-10 North division will be Was, WSU, Ore, Ore St., CU and Utah. South will be Cali and Arizona schools." Or, this:
While that certainly seems to be the easiest form of alignment, there are two other options still being discussed apparently. One is the "zipper concept," which would put natural rivals in opposite divisions. The other is the "pod" scheduling idea, which would still use two, six-team divisions, split on the north/south line, but would rotate the yearly matchups.
Pod 1: NW schools.
Pod 2: CA schools.
Pod 3: AZ and MTN schools.
Each year, you'd play everyone in your pod and three of the four teams in each of the other pods. (For instance: The NW schools would play three of the four CA schools every year.)
Once the divisions are settled, the focus will then shift to planning a championship game, and picking a neutral site to play host. apparently the finalists are Phoenix (Glendale), Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego ... and Las Vegas.
Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com (as if I need to tell you that at this point) is reporting that the Colorado Buffaloes WILL be leaving the Big 12 to join the Pac-10 after this season. Chip reports that the Buffaloes will be paying about $6.8 million of around $19 million of our revenues from the conference to leave.
At this rate, Dan Hawkins will never, ever be fired, because Colorado will never have the money, which will be even funnier once he has to play Pac-10 opponents on the regular.
Follow this story as it develops in this StoryStream and at SB Nation's Ralphie Report.
Colorado, rather than muddle through two seasons strung between two misnomered eleven-team conferences, is exploring the possibility of leaving the Big 12 in 2011, a year ahead of schedule. Chasing down "ambiguities" in the conference bylaws, it turns out, could save them some serious coin:
Big 12 bylaws require CU to forfeit half its Big 12 revenue distributions for the next two school years in order to leave the league. According to IRS tax records examined by The Associated Press, the Big 12 paid out $10,135,802 to Colorado in 2008-09.
That would make the buyout around $10 million, although Bohn said the cost for leaving after one year is undefined.
Even if they manage to shave half the cost off the ship-jumping price tag, this is still a tall order for the gang that couldn't scrape together a cool $3 million to fire Dan Hawkins last November. Best of luck turning over couch cushions, fellas!
As was expected, Utah voted unanimously on Thursday to accept the Pac-10’s invitation to join the conference. The Utes leave behind the Mountain West Conference to become the 12th team in the Pac-10, joining Colorado as the two new teams.
With 12 teams, the Pac-10 now has the number of schools required by the NCAA to play a conference championship game.
Utah will hold a meeting of its Board of Trustees at 2:30 p.m. EDT to discuss and most likely approve their invitation to the Pac-10, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
This marks the final step in this phase of conference expansion now that the Big 12 has stabilized at ten teams and the Pac-10 has shown no signs of expanding any further. Utah will leave the Mountain West Conference and join Colorado as the rookies in the division, and if they follow CU’s lead will attempt to push the timetable to play in conference in 2011.
Utah is on its way to the Pac-10, a Mountain West Conference source said Tuesday night. The source did not want to be named because an official announcement has not been made.
The denials by Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott are expected, but at this point the denials seem to be aimed at the timing of when when Utah receives their invite. The Utes are all but officially in the Pac-10, because it is well known that the Pac-10 wants a title game and that Utah was their fallback choice after Texas.
Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott is denying the report by Comcast that said earlier this evening that Utah is being introduced as the latest Pac-10 member tomorrow. Salt Lake Tribune's Utah beat writer Lya Wodraska sent out this tweet with the Scott denial.
More info coming from University of Utah athletic office:
In addition, MWC officials I just spoke with said they have not received any notification from Utah that it is leaving and Utah associate athletic director Liz Abel said there was "nothing new to report."
Make sure to check in with SB Nation's Utah blog BlockU for further developments.
Unconfirmed reports have an official invitation from the Pac-10 to Utah in the works, and unlike the last few conference expansions, this one appears to be heading for a speedy resolution:
The Pacific-10 Conference will extend an invitation to the University of Utah to become the league's 12th team, Comcast SportsNet has learned exclusively from sources close to the situation.
A press conference is expected to formalize the announcement on Wednesday.
Make sure to check in with SB Nation's Utah blog BlockU for further developments.
It's hard to fathom how the Big 12 expansion/contraction fooferaw could possibly get bitchier, but here we are. Witness before our very eyes the development of a clearly delineated conference caste system:
Via Rivals, the gnarly details, which set the five erstwhile would-be Pac-10 additions above the left-behinds, and the two powerhouse schools above that (along with, for some reason, Texas A&M):
Under the proposed payout, each school in the league is due to receive $2 million each from the $20 million owed by the two exiting schools. Under Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's proposal, the five Big 12 schools that were to be left behind would sacrifice their share and have that money paid out to Texas, A&M and OU. In that situation, those schools would receive $5.3 million, while Tech and Oklahoma State would receive $2 million.
Make no mistake: This is the unsung Heathers sequel you never saw in theaters, and the Longhorns, et al have laid claim to the coveted red scrunchie. Texas Tech shouldn't have nearly as much to complain about as, say, Kansas, but still: That has to sting. It does appear, however, that the Red Raiders have made their reluctant peace with the deal:
(And they in turn are not nearly as reluctant as Mizzou AD Mike Alden, by the way, who apparently steadfastly refuses to believe any of this is real.)
Yes, it looks like these crazy Bg 12 kids are gonna make their shotgun marriage work. I give it ten months, max.
Colorado is barely a member of the Pac-10 and there is no 12th member just yet, but according to CBS4 Denver, the 12-team version of the conference is already set, along with its two-division breakdown.
Sources close to C.U. have told CBS4 Sports the Buffs are projected to be in a 6 team division in the new Pac-10. The Buffs will be joined by USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and probably Utah, which is expected to receive an invitation to join the Pac-10.
The remaining teams in the conference that will make up the Pac-10 North are:
Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State
While that does make sense, remember that it’s still just an unconfirmed rumor based on another unconfirmed rumor. Don’t book those flights just yet. Keep an eye on The Ralphie Report for any updates as they happen.
With the Texas and Oklahoma schools deciding to stay in the Big 12 rather than jump to the Pac-10, many folks are taking it as a sign that the Great Conference Armageddon Of 2010 is reaching its conclusion. That might be the case but if no major revelations remain, there is still one issue that needs to be resolved.
The Pac-10 didn't take on Colorado just so it could expand to eleven teams. It wants to get to at least twelve to reach the magic number that qualifies them for a conference championship game. That means there's at least one more team that's going to switch conferences and the smart money seems to be on Utah.
According to Tom Cella at UteZone.com, the University has already notified the MWC of its intentions to leave the conference. Now, it's just up to the Pac-10 to officially invite them and complete the deal.
For the Mountain West, the news would basically just reset them. They will have swapped outgoing Utah for incoming Boise State. All things considered, their situation could have ended much worse.
As for the Pac-10, the coveted conference championship game and the revenue it generates should help Larry Scott get over the loss of his grand Pac-16 experiment that fell apart. Colorado and Utah also provide some semblance of a regional duality that matches the rest of the conference.
Keep an eye on Utah blog Block U for more details and developments.
It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours for the Pac-10. Yesterday they seemed certain that they’d be welcoming the Texas And Oklahoma Contingent into their fold. A day later, they find out they might have just been a pawn in Texas’ bid for a sweeter deal from the Big 12. Washington State blog Coug Center isn’t too surprised that things ended the way they did. Like most areas in college sports, the few folks who have all the power don’t like giving any of it up.
This really shouldn’t surprise anyone. After all, a football playoff has made sense for about three decades, and look at how slowly that’s moved. People in power do not like to give up that power, and the potential Pac-16 represented a seismic shift in power. It’s far too simplistic to blame this on one school or one television network, because it’s really, really obvious that it took more than that to make this thing fall apart. So don’t do that.
Coug Center also ponders how much ESPN and Fox were a part of those shadowy central figures that helped broker the deal to keep Texas in the Big 12.
All of this means the TV deals ESPN and Fox just laid out become instantly outdated. That $2.25 billion paid to the SEC? Chump change. Everything would have to be renegotiated, including the SEC deal that was deemed historic just a short time ago.
If ESPN killed the deal, it was to protect their contracts with the SEC and ACC. If the Big 12 collapses, the SEC would have to counter, taking parts of the ACC and Big 12 to become a 16 team league.
If Fox killed the deal, it was to prevent a bidding war for the Pac-16. Fox will almost never outbid ESPN. They just don’t have the financial backing that Disney brings to the table with ESPN. However, Fox can bid both the surviving Big 12 and Pac-10(12?) deals in an effort to control the Western market in more bite-sized portions.
This was probably a foregone conclusion when Texas announced it would remain in the Big 12, but three of the other potential departures have issued statements pledging loyalty to the conference.
The decision to stay in the Big 12 represents a consensus position which resulted from a collaborative effort with our colleagues in the conference. We value the strong working relationship that has been reaffirmed during this process among the conference members. We intend to work very hard to make the conference as lasting and dynamic as possible. We appreciate the respect and interest that has been shown to OU during this process.
We applaud Commissioner Beebe’s bold moves and intense efforts over the past several days to keep the conference not only together, but also more viable than ever. We also appreciate the collaboration of all conference members to reach this agreement.
Texas A&M is a proud member of the Big 12 Conference and will continue to be affiliated with the conference in the future. As Athletics Director Bill Byrne and I have stated on numerous occasions, our hope and desire was for the Big 12 to continue. We are committed to the Big 12 and its success today and into the future.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled offseason of reading Phil Steele and arguing about a playoff, already in progress.
Texas is really, truly staying in the Big 12 … or the Big 10 … or whatever it is now. Put it this way: No Pac-16.
The announcement came on the university’s official website, which means it’s more solid than almost anything else that’s been reported on this so far.
The University of Texas at Austin’s athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference, the university announced today.
Of course, logic would say they change the name of the conference, but the Big Ten’s been at 11 teams for years, so those are details. Meanwhile, Yahoo!‘s Dan Wetzel is tweeting that Texas A&M will follow suit, apparently spurning the SEC’s efforts to make the Aggies the 13th team in that league.
This could end the biggest upheavals in the conference realignment game, taking away the incentive for the Big Ten and / or the SEC to plunder the ACC or the Big East for more teams to either counter a Pac-16 or balance an A&M pickup. But the Mountain West could be in trouble, with the Pac-11 now looking for a 12th team and the Big 12 potentially considering new additions.
We have yet another twist in the ongoing Conference Expansionpocalypse: Texas is now committed to remaining in the Big 12, which will become a 10-team conference after the loss of Colorado and Nebraska, according to Chip Brown.
The report says that Texas was convinced of this plan over the weekend by Big 12 commish Dan Beebe, and the school could announce its intentions to stay put as early as Monday.
The full Beebe plan:
—Beebe has secured information that enough money could be inked in its next TV negotiation (in 2011) that revenues per school would jump from between $7 million and $10 million in the Big 12 currently to $17 million beginning in 2012, which is what the SEC pays out.
—The 10 remaining Big 12 schools would divide up the more than $20 million in buyout penalties that will have to be paid by Colorado and Nebraska for leaving the league early.
—Individal institutions would be allowed to pursue their own networks, which has been a goal of Texas. If the Longhorns went to the Pac-10, they would have to forgo their own distribution platforms, including a network, because the Pac-16 would seek to have a conference network in which all inventory is shared.
(Consultants have put Texas’ ability to generate revenue from its own network at between $3 million and $5 million after a start-up window of about three years.)
—The Big 12 would proceed with 10 teams. Everyone would play everyone in football, providing a nine-game conference schedule.
—The conference championship game would be dumped in the short-term (because the NCAA mandates 12 schools for a football title game).
—The loss of Nebraska and Colorado should have been a loss of about 16 percent to the league’s revenue generating capacity. But because Colorado was an underperformer, the league lost only about 8.6 percent of its value with the loss of Nebraska, according to sources with knowledge of the Beebe Plan.
This plan hinges on the other remaining Big 12 schools also agreeing to stay in the conference, most specifically Texas A&M, which is rumored to be close to joining the SEC.
The demise of the Big 12 is upon us. According to Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com (the driving force behind much of this Pac-10 expansion reporting), four Big 12 south schools will move to the Pac-10 — Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech.
The decision for those schools to leave the conference was made following Nebraska officially accepting the invite to join the Big Ten on Friday.
Brown adds that Texas will make its announcement next Thursday.
With Colorado officially announcing it is leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10, the focus now shifts to who else is joining them. While many rumors point to Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State making the move out West, there is still talk that the Aggies may be making eyes with the SEC. And of course the Pac-10 could simply decide to just go after Utah and call it a day. Or maybe the Big Ten, not happy with just Nebraska, will pursue Texas and Oklahoma, too.
Regardless of how this all shakes out, one things certain: no word regarding any Pac-10 expansion is coming until next week.
It’s officially official: Colorado is the first school to leave the Big 12, as the Pac-10 announced on Thursday that the Buffaloes are the 11th team in the conference.
“This is an historic moment for the Conference, as the Pac-10 is poised for tremendous growth. The University of Colorado is a great fit for the Conference both academically and athletically and we are incredibly excited to welcome Colorado to the Pac-10,” said Commissioner Larry Scott.
“On behalf of The University of Colorado students, faculty, alumni and fans, we are proud to accept this invitation from the Pac-10 and join the most prestigious academic and athletic conference in the nation, " said Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor of CU-Boulder.
“The University of Colorado is a perfect match – academically and athletically – with the Pac-10,” said University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson, “our achievements and aspirations match those of the universities in the conference and we look forward to a productive relationship.”
A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. MT time on Friday morning in Boulder, CO.
Colorado will accept a bid to become a member of the Pac-10, according to the Boulder Daily Camera (via Ralphie Report.) Colorado becomes the first team to officially leave the Big 12, and will announce the deal at an 11 a.m. press conference on Friday.
The move pre-empts any attempts by Texas legislators to oust the Buffaloes in favor of Baylor, a Big 12 school some politicians viewed as a package deal with the remainder of the Texas schools rumored to be part of a six-team move to the Pac-10. It also sets up the Pac-10’s alternate scenario of a possible two-team expansion to 12 teams if the six-team package deal fails to take shape, most likely with Utah taking the second spot.
Over at SB Nation's excellent Iowa blog, Black Heart Gold Pants, Adam Jacobi checks in with some good insight into the Texas aspect of this whole menagerie. And, as Jacobi says, it's not a coincidence that Texas is once again at the center of this speculation... And whatever happens, Texas leaving its conference shouldn't be a surprise:
What's not going to happen, though, is that Texas stays in the Big XII. Oh, they'll claim to have tried their hardest to keep the conference together, but they could have accomplished that with or without Nebraska and/or Missouri in the fold. Nobody's ever asked Texas and A&M why, precisely, the conference couldn't survive without a Nebraska program that had spent the last few years lamenting the XII's increasingly Texas-centric approach. We can't even intuit a plausible answer why that's the case.
Moreover, it's disingenuous to pretend that Texas' Big Ten fantasies didn't start over 15 years ago, or that they haven't persisted since. [...]
And so either the Pac-10 or the Big 10 happily welcomes into its conference the main actor in the only two I-A conference deaths of the last 50 years. If UT decides it can't be in a conference with a football program on a death sentence, then the Southwest Conference can't exist. If UT decides it can't be in a conference without a Nebraska program that's been complaining for years about the (state of) Texas-centric approach of the conference, then the Big XII can't exist. And if, in a couple decades, UT decides to convince Ohio State/USC that they can't handle conference network revenue sharing when they're in the same conference as Northwestern/Washington State or Purdue/Stanford, then the Big/Pac Tewhatever can't exist either.
And just like every time before, we'll all act so, so surprised.
It's a good read, with valuable perspective. Especially amidst the swirling speculation, with fans processing the myriad scenarios that could emerge from the chaos of the past few days, it's easy to lose sight of history in all this. But, as Jacobi points out, Texas' role at the center of all this is no coincidence. Make of that what you will.
With Nebraska reportedly leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten (announcement expected Friday), and Colorado believed to be ready to accept the Pac 10’s invite, the Big 12 is in an extremely fragile state. And it’s not just those two schools — as outlined in previous updates to this StoryStream, several other Big 12 universities are expected to be invited to the Pac 10.
All of this leaves the demise of the Big 12 somewhat imminent. In an effort to save the conference, officials from Texas and Texas A&M are meeting Thursday morning to discuss ways to hold the Big 12 together, according to the NY Times:
Officials from Texas and Texas A&M will meet Thursday morning in Austin in a last-ditch effort to save the Big 12 Conference. The regents, presidents and athletic officials from the universities are scheduled to meet with the hope of figuring out how to keep the conference together now that the departures of Nebraska and Colorado appear imminent. […]
“I think there’s a strong, strong interest to ensure that the Big 12 exists, regardless of any kind of possible departures,” [Big 12 Commissioner Dan] Beebe said.
He added that the conference would not rule out carrying on without a conference football title game; N.C.A.A. rules require 12 members for such a game.
“It would be one less obstacle to getting into the national championship,” Beebe said. “I think television value would still be there. I’m not talking about any specific school that would be departing. It would still be an extremely strong conference and player in the national landscape.”
We’ll keep you updated here with all the latest news and speculation. Plenty to come, we’re sure.
Now, it really starts to get interesting.
After Wednesday's report that Nebraska was headed to the Big Ten, the Pac-10 had to move quickly, and indeed they did, supposedly making plans to invite Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado.
While it would take anywhere from a week to10 days to work out all the details of a newly formed Pac-16, one thing is for certain, best summed up by ESPN's Pat Forde:
If the Pac-16 becomes a reality and the entire Big 12 South blows town (minus Baylor, plus Colorado), they wouldn't be blowing quite as fast as you might think:
So take heart, Big 12 purists. That's two more full seasons you'll have to bid farewell such compelling matchups as Baylor-Iowa State before moving on the glamour of ... Colorado-Washington State? Yeah, everything's gonna be fine.
No, for real this time. Rivals' Chip Brown, who has been out in front of every bit of breaking Pac-10 expansion news thus far, appears to have stamped a time of death for the Big 12:
Brown appeared on SportsCenter Wednesday evening to report that the original six schools specified in the expansion rumors (that's be Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado) are indeed the institutions lighting out for the territories. Stay tuned as we all (the schools themselves included) try and figure out what on earth this does to shredded remains of the Big 12 ... not to mention the Big Ten.
So much for the major announcement that Colorado was heading to the Pac-10. Instead the meeting was a get together with a bunch of lawyers to discuss expansion options. Kyle Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera sent out a tweet saying that Colorado does not have an invitation from any other conference.
This expansion talk is starting to like a very high stake game of chicken where a team is afraid to make the wrong move.
The expansion machine has been working overtime lately, but it looks like there
definitely will be may actually be some tangible evidence tomorrow with Colorado expecting to make a major announcement tomorrow:
If the speculation is true, Colorado could be preparing to accept a bid from the Pac-10 Conference, which has targeted the Buffaloes for expansion.
The move would undercut an attempt by Baylor to sway the Texas Legislature into helping the Bears get an invite ahead of Colorado.
It would also guarantee that the Pac-10 probably pulls off at least one of its plans presented to league presidents and chancellors at meetings over the weekend in San Francisco.
This move looks to block out Baylor who has been gathering support from the Texas legislature to put pressure on Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech to bring along baby brother Baylor to a new Pac-10 league. Now, if this actually comes true then the Pac-10 has two options regarding expansion which are either still inviting Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State which is the Pac-10's first choice in expansion, and then the other would to add Utah to round out a new form Pac-10.
Five of the six schools likely to defect from the Big 12 to the Pac 10 are essentially set. Should that scenario come to pass, it's reported that Texas,Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are almost certain to be those five.
Some reports have placed Colorado as the sixth, sewing quite a bit of panic among officials at Baylor, as evidenced by a series of e-mail sent by regent Buddy Jones to university alumni and supporters in the Texas Legislature, which has already shown that it is willing to press the Pac-10 to include Baylor to keep the four state schools together.
"My guess is that Colorado hasn't taken enough broadside hits to sink their boat yet and they may well be on the invite list," Jones said. "I hope I'm wrong. But there's still time left to change the scoreboard. We aren't through."
Another e-mail from Jones urged the alums in the Legislature to call key officials at Texas, A&M and Tech. It provided talking points about why those schools should throw their weight behind Baylor instead of Colorado.
In a subsequent e-mail he wrote of the importance of legislative involvement.
"It is imperative that whatever happens the four Texas schools (and hopefully OU and OSU) agree to stick together," Jones wrote.
"United we stand. And the three public Universities you all are contacting understand the importance of an issue that touches 20 of their bosses in the Legislature."
Another e-mail obtained by the Dallas Morning News sent Sunday mentions that "great progress" had been made in the previous 48 hours. Former state Sen. Kip Averitt said university trustees and Waco community leaders are working to keep Baylor together with the other Texas schools.
The seemingly inevitable advent of college mega-conferences is upon us. And while it means that traditional rivals may get torn apart, you kind of have to sit back and admire the evil genius of it all, at least when it comes to the way the Big 10 and Pac-`0 commissioners have played everyone else.
SB Nation's Washington State blog, Coug Center, explains how Larry Scott has manipulated the media to create a wedge in the Big 12, and just possibly the opening he needs to pluck half of the league:
Word of Pac-10 expansion leaked in the early afternoon on Thursday. At the same time, the Big XII was having their annual meeting. All the Big XII teams were gathered together, with a press conference called for later in the day on Thursday. Shortly before the press conference, word of the Pac-10 making a move surfaced, sending the Big XII into panic mode. What happened next can only be describe as the ultimate game of "Do you like me? Check yes or no". The Big XII asked all of its members to pledge their solidarity to the conference in a show of unity in an attempt to quell the rumors. Problem was, Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado all reportedly checked "maybe". The press conference was canceled and the meetings ended without a clear resolution.
What resulted from the Big XII meetings was a deadline for the schools that didn't pledge allegiance to the conference to voice their intentions. The deadline is May 14th, giving them all of this week to calculate the next move. This gave the Pac-10 a window of opportunity to make a move. On Sunday, Scott finally addressed the rumors, announcing that the Pac-10 schools had given him unanimous authority to move forward with expansion. While the grandiose expansion plans of the Pac-10 appear to hinge on the actions of Nebraska, Larry Scott is waging a full fledged media war in an attempt to get his way.
The Big XII, and its survival, is the key to expansion for the Pac-10. By floating that the Pac-10 wants to take a bite out of the Big XII, it creates doubt in the minds of the rest of the schools in the conference. If Nebraska leaves, so does Texas and vice-versa. Either scenario places the conference in a precarious position. By creating doubt that Texas will stick around, Larry Scott may just be able to force Nebraska to jump to the Big Ten for fear of being left out in the cold.
It's all one big game of musical chairs, all of the various conference realignment proposals and counter-proposals floating out there in the ether. And in all of them, Kansas ends up as one of the big losers. Indeed, the Pac-10 is reportedly closing in on making an offer to half of the Big 12, while the Big 10 has zeroed in on Missouri and Nebraska. But no one wants Kansas. Except possibly the Mountain West Conference. Apparently boasting one of the nation's preeminent hoops programs doesn't get you much nowadays.
As you might have guessed, it's a money issue. Because of the way the television contract for the NCAA tournament works, there's little extra revenue to squeeze out of picking up an elite roundball team. As CBS Sport's Gary Parrish explains:
All that matters is football and TV markets. That's it. If the Pac-10 and Big Ten -- or, down the road, the SEC -- end up with some nice basketball additions when everything settles, it will be a bonus for basketball fans of those leagues, but nothing more.
If the Big 12 does self-immolate, Kansas' options seem limited. The MWC may make a godfather offer for the remnant of the Big 12, along with Boise State, to form a new "power" conference, although none of those schools make sense for Kansas basketball-wise. Joining a slimmed down, non-football Big East might be their best choice (assuming the ACC raids the Big East of its remaining football schools), although here the hang-up would be geographical.
Thinking through these different scenarios, it's clear that Kansas' best hope is that the Big 12 semi-miraculously manages to save itself from extinction. And that may depend on Notre Dame joining the Big 10. Again from Parrish:
There's now some thought that much of this insanity could be avoided if Notre Dame would agree to join the Big Ten because the Big Ten would then stop at 12 schools, at which point Nebraska wouldn't have anywhere to go, at which point Texas would commit to staying in the Big 12, at which point the Big 12 would survive. But if Notre Dame sticks to being an independent, the Big Ten will likely at least offer membership to Nebraska. And if Nebraska goes to the Big Ten, Texas and five others will almost certainly move to the Pac-10, at which point the Big 12 would cease to exist.
And if all this melodrama reminds you of being back in high school, there's a good reason: because that's exactly what's going on, as SB Nation's MaizeNBrew points out in this hilarious, perhaps NFSW post.
It's still a bit premature to write obituaries for the Big 12...but at the pace a possible Pac-10 expansion is going, things are moving rapidly towards the demise of (at least) one of the six power conferences. And that begs the question: how exactly did we get here?
Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel provides an excellent breakdown and dates the moment when things began to fall apart for the Big 12 to 2008, when league commissioner Dan Beebe sided with the Big 10 and Pac-10 in turning down an offer to create a plus-one playoff system in college football. Indeed, while the constant refrain has been that we as fans are stuck with the BCS "because of the money", the (obvious) reality is that a college football playoff system would be much more of a cash cow. As Wetzel notes, Big 10 commissioner Jim Delany conceded in congressional testimony that a 16-team playoff would garner about four times the revenue as the BCS system.
So why did the Big 12, Big 10 and Pac-10 conspire to kill it? Well, according to Wetzel, the Big 12 did so because they were dopes. But the Big 10 and Pac-10 apparently wanted to position themselves to take a bigger cut further down the line. If the major conferences had come together on a plus-one playoff system a few years ago, the revenue would have been split more or less evenly between them. By voting down the system, the Big 10 and Pac-10 bought time to aggressively pursue expansion, and set up their own television networks that create a new system of haves and have-nots in the college football landscape. If the two manage to cannibalize the Big 12, with the SEC likely to follow suit and do so to the ACC as well, these new mega-conferences will be positioned to rake in monumental sums if and when a playoff ever does come to college football.
So, in short, the Big 10 and Pac-10 were playing chess, and the Big 12 didn't even know there was a game going on.
And so it begins: the Pac-10 is reportedly set to formally extend invitations later this week to six Big 12 schools to join a new mega-conference, according to Chip Blood of Orangebloods.com.
At this point, the identities of five of the six invitees are known for sure: Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. But it seems that the Texas legislature's brazen efforts to strong-arm Baylor into a possible Pac-16 (?) in place of Colorado may be working. Indeed, per Brown, the Pac-10 is still undecided between Colorado and Baylor, with no indication about which way the Pac-10 and commissioner Larry Scott are currently leaning.
Meanwhile, it wouldn't be surprising if Nebraska and Missouri's deadline for deciding whether they want to remain in the Big 12 gets moved up, given how quickly the Pac-10 has pounced on the other half of the league. Texas is rumored to want to keep the Big 12 together in its current form (or at least with Nebraska, if not Missouri) because the Longhorns have designs on their own television network that they wouldn't have to share with anyone else; if they accepted an invitation from the Pac-10, they would have to split revenues in the league's proposed television network.
The Great Realignment Battle of 2010 has begun.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announced Sunday, on the final day of conference meetings, that he has been given authority by member university presidents and chancellors to expand the Pac-10.
Scott reportedly presented the officials with four possible options for expansion on Saturday. Though no concrete timeline has been given by Scott -only that the absolute deadline remains the end of the year - many believe an arrangement could be finalized within the next month, if not the coming weeks. According to ESPNLosAngeles, Scott said the announcement could come next month at the beginning of conference media days in New York.
Scott said it's possible the expansion announcement could come as early as July 27, the first day of the Pac-10 football media days in New York. The new schools wouldn't join the Pac-10 until the 2012-2013 school year, Scott said.
With the Big 12 nearly on the verge of collapse, scenarios being floated have six or possibly more new teams joining the Pac-10, including powerhouse Texas. One such possibility would be a complete merger of the two conferences, creating a massive 22-team heretofore unseen in college sports. However, Scott has been said to prefer taking on only six teams from the Big 12, so long it includes Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and either Colorado or Baylor. From there, the prospect of a Pac-10 television network that Scott has desired to see realized since taking the job a year ago becomes much more likely.
Of course, the Big Ten, the conference with the network that would serve as the inspiration for the Pac-10's, also has designs on Texas, so this development should serve to precipitate their overtures to the school.
Don't mess with Texas. Or, at least, don't invite three out of four of the Big 12 teams that hail from the state and leave Baylor out in the cold, if the latest report from Chip Brown is true. According to Brown -- who first broke the Pac-10 expansion mega-story -- the Texas legislature is moving to demand that the Pac-10 take Baylor instead of Colorado should the Pac-10 indeed invite six Big 12 schools to join a new super-conference. Per Brown:
"If you're going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we're going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don't think so. We're already at work on this," said a high-ranking member of the Texas Legislature who asked not to be identified.
"If the Pac-10 wants Texas, and we know they do, they may have to take all of our Texas schools," the source said, adding that Texas Tech has also benefited from political inclusion on the invite list.
Colorado's struggles on the gridiron and the hardcourt the past few years certainly make passing on the Buffs much more palatable for the Pac-10, even if would mean missing out on the potentially lucrative Denver television market. And, of course, the real issue, as the Texas legislators amply realize, is that UT is the big prize here, and the Pac-10 isn't likely to let Colorado hold up landing the Longhorns.
The Pac-10 has reportedly considered four possible options during its weekend meetings, and has whittled its options down to just a pair. Among the quartet of moves the Pac-10 might make are 1) keeping the status quo, 2) A full-on merger with the Big 12, 3) Inviting six Big 12 teams to join a new 16-team conference, and 4) Inviting Colorado and Utah to join a 12-team conference that would then be eligible for a lucrative conference title game. Brown reports that the league has narrowed its options down to either going forward with just its current ten teams, or adding six more from the Big 12.
Given that, the Texas legislature's apparent resolve to make sure Baylor is included on the list of the six invited teams would leave Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa State and Missouri in a bind, perhaps leaving the Big Ten (and possibly the MWC?) to pick up the pieces of a broken Big 12.
The initial report that the Pac-10 was planning a foray into the Big 12, possibly inviting six schools to join a new mega-conference, seemed fanciful at first, although the sourcing seemed reliable. After all, this offseason has been filled with rumors and subterfuge as the major conferences position and posture for survival and supremacy in the Great Realignment Battle of 2010.
But then the Colorado AD came out and admitted that their might be some truth to the rumors of the Pac-10's plan to poach half of the Big 12. And now the Washington AD, Scott Woodward, is giving us some corroboration from the Pac-10 side as well, per the Seattle Times:
There is an enormous amount of speculation about conference expansion right now and I think with the Pac-10 that anything is possible, all the way from remaining with the status quo, where we are today, to a full merger with the Big 12 and anything in between. All possibilities are viable and open for discussion.
Woodward traveled to San Francisco on Friday, where the Pac-10 is holding its annual meetings through Sunday. Given Woodward's rather candid acknowledgment that the league is considering a host of options regarding possible expansion, it wouldn't be altogether shocking if they invited prospective teams as early as next week, following the league meetings. Stay tuned.
So, yeah ... those Pac-10 expansionpocalypse rumors? Suzanne Halliburton of the Austin American-Statesman says not so fast:
Additionally, Pac-10 commish Larry Scott attempted to stamp out any flames of fun Thursday night:
"We have not developed any definitive plans," Scott said. "We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term."
Proficient in coachspeak, these suited men are. Stern they may sound, but please note that nowhere does anyone say the Pac-10 has no plans to go after half of the Big 12, which didn't cancel its presser out of the blue for nothing.
Just relax, take deap, calming breaths, and stare at Mike Bohn's headshot some more. We're all in this together. And we're really starting to loathe the offseason.
It may have been easy to scoff at Thursday's report that the Pac-10 is ready to invite six teams from the Big 12 to join the conference -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado. After all, it was hardly the first expansion rumor that had made headlines this offseason.
As our excellent Iowa blog, Black Heart Gold Pants, points out, while the original report was "... written by a former Dallas Morning News guy, Chip Brown [and was] expansive, specific," it was also "easily deniable" (like most of the expansion talk over the past couple of months). But this time, it was different.
The Big 12, which held meetings of the Presidents and Chancellors of the universities Thursday in Kansas City, called for a press conference at 5 P.M. this evening. Then they pushed it back to six. And then they canceled it altogether. And now it's time to say goodbye to the Big 12.
Then they straight up canceled the presser, issuing no comment and rescheduling for tomorrow. As one CycloneFanatic poster superbly put it, "Well the Big 12 is good at sitting and waiting to see what happens. Nothing new here."
Mirth aside, however, reports from Kansas City make it seem obvious that the Big XII isn't waiting, they're realizing that the end is here.
BHGP goes on to wonder, assuming those six schools in question leave for the Pac-10, and Missouri and Nebraska leave for the Big Ten (a lot of assuming, but still), what becomes of Kansas?
... KU would be left with Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State. You think KU feels any need to stick by those three schools? You know, the three that were so unmarketable that it plunged the Big XII into a ruinous financial inferiority? Any need at all?
Or does KU immediately recognize try to hitch its ride to the Big Ten as well? Might KU even try to outmuscle Missouri if there's one slot between the two? If it's either that or the
MWC/Big XII LeftoverGreat Plains Superconference, we imagine KU's decision would be very, very easy.
The report of a possible six-team expansion in the works for the Pac-10 was met with at least a modicum of skepticism this afternoon, which makes sense after months of Big 10 will-they-won't-they back and forth expansion gossip. But this version of events appears to come wrapped around at least a grain of truth, as Colorado AD Mike Bohn confirms ... not that Colorado and five other Big 12 schools are getting invitations, exactly, but that there's at least some there there:
Bohn said CU has not had any contact with the Pac-10 or its representatives and he was not clear on how he came to believe invitations could be forthcoming. But he said Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could receive invitations possibly as soon as this weekend when Pac-10 officials meet in San Francisco.
"The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn said in an interview with the Camera as he left the Big 12 spring meetings here today.
But be not afraid, tradition-bound Buffs faithful -- if this all does fall apart, Bohn's already adeptly covering his tracks with fine-grained doublespeak:
Bohn said at this point Colorado remains a committed and proud member of the Big 12 and he believes the conference has a bright future if its members remain together.
Half of the Big 12 is a hot commodity, so it's fair to say their representatives have earned a little preening. (And if you think Bohn sounds like the belle of the ball now, just wait until you get a load of his headshot. Like a curvy lady in a turn of the century Coca-Cola ad.)
As news of a possible massive Pac-10 expansion seeps into the ether, affected fanbases are lining up their talking points, and there seems to be a general sense of agreement that if this "Big 16" plan is for real, it's a good one.
The California Golden Blogs crew dubs the list of potential newcomers "impressive," the fellas at the UW Dawg Pound agree that a sixteen-team expansion makes more sense than going to 12, and over at the Ralphie Report, there's a general feeling of over-the-moon-ness, assuming this all pans out:
Obviously, we have heard numerous rumors of imminent offers coming from a bunch of different conferences to a bunch of different schools that were nothing but neato fabrications so this should be taken with a HUGE grain of salt. However, as a Buff and Sooner and Pac-10 football fan, this would be absolute heaven for me. Seriously, I can't think of anything more perfect and I don't think I would ever need to change the channel from this new conference's channel.
Got an opinion? Join the discussions already in progress at SBN's college communities.
Expansion rumors regarding the Big Ten have been the food sustaining college football fans through the long offseason, but this is something new and exotic to put on the menu. According to Rivals.com's Texas site Orangebloods.com, the PAC-10 will make an offer to six teams from the Big 12. The goal here seems to be the formation of a super conference encompassing seven of the nation's top 20 television markets united under a single banner, and a Big Ten Network-style channel of its own.
Because it appears the Pac-10, which has its meetings in San Francisco starting this weekend, is prepared to make a bold move and invite Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado to join its league, according to multiple sources close to the situation.
We'd offer a little more caution if this weren't Chip Brown, a reliable source and former beat reporter for Orangebloods.com sourcing the thing. What is uncertain is whether any of the teams would really consider this if the offer is forthcoming, or how it would work, or how college football at large would respond. What is certain is that if the Pac-10 is going to look at expansion, they brought the elephant gun for the hunting expedition.
The one major conference largely holding itself above the fray of all this Big Ten expansion fooferaw? That would be the Pac-10, but don't think for a second that it's off the table:
The conference brass is also exploring the possibility, according to Staples, of just petitioning the NCAA to allow them to hold a conference title game without expanding beyond ten schools. But if they do take on new members, Scott said, they'll add in even numbers. Pac-12 has a nice ring to it, no?
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