clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oklahoma was reportedly 'within 30 minutes' of leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-10

And now there's infighting at Oklahoma over whether the Big 12 should expand beyond 10 teams.

One big, happy family.
One big, happy family.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Remember a few years ago, when the Big 12 nearly lost its biggest names to the Pac-10?

Oklahoma came even closer than we realized to bolting to join what would become a revamped Pac-16 six years ago, according to a new report from CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.

Then known as the Pac-10, college sports' major western conference was in a state of upheaval in the summer of 2010. Texas reportedly almost left the Big 12 to join it, and Oklahoma nearly left, too. (And then that all happened again a year later.)

Now, a source at OU tells Dodd that Oklahoma was "within 30 minutes" of leaving the Big 12 and metaphorically heading westward that year.

This would've had a huge ripple effect on college sports.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott had reportedly wanted to add Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M from the Big 12 to make a new Pac-16, which would've left the Big 12 in an untenable position with just six members remaining. (The solution on the table was a Big 12-Big East merger.)

What if the Sooners had gone to the Pac-Whatever? They've have probably gone there alongside Texas and four other Big 12 departures, and that would've caused a sea change. It gets wild to imagine.

Nowadays, there's some dissent in the ranks at Oklahoma over whether the Big 12 should expand beyond what became its current 10-school membership, Dodd writes.

Oklahoma president David Boren has been perhaps the Big 12's most vocal advocate for expansion. He's said he likes the Big 12 having 12 actual teams, and he's been rather up front about wanting to add Cincinnati to the league.

But Boren's superiors on Oklahoma's governing board of regents seem to disagree. The chairman of that board told Dodd he disagrees with expanding, and he adds, "I can tell you I'm not alone."

Oklahoma's regents probably can't stop the Big 12's presidents from doing anything, but they can exert political pressure on Boren in other ways. The president has to work with his regents on a host of issues in his day-to-day job, so the point that the regents don't want expansion isn't meaningless, even if they're powerless to immediately act to stop it.

And if OU decides it's against expansion, that would mean the Big 12 would reportedly be at least two votes shy of the support needed to expand.

***

A few hours later:

"I first want to make it clear that I have complete confidence in the leadership of the University of Oklahoma," [Board of Regents chairman Max] Weitzenhoffer said in a statement. "President Boren has proven to be a visionary and effective leader of the university. I am confident that our President will lead the university in the right direction on matters related to the Big 12 Conference. He has and will continue to have my full support."