Call me crazy, but all this breathless talk about the certain end of the Big 12 and the dawn of superconferences has got me thinking–maybe we should all just take a deep breath.
I know it’s less fun to consider this, but the Big 12 just might survive. Here’s why I think so.
Say what you want about Oklahoma being in the driver’s seat, it’s not true. Who cares if they and OSU want to go to the Pac-12? What matters is if the Pac-12 wants them. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has said he is not interested in expanding (take that for what it’s worth). And why would they want the Oklahoma schools without Texas? That pod system everyone has been talking about only works if Texas (and Texas Tech) come along, which means, once again, Texas is in the driver’s seat and that it’s in Oklahoma and OSU’s interests to get something worked out with the Longhorn Network if they all want to go west.
Despite what the Aggies may think, even if they do escape to the SEC, they are hardly irreplaceable.
Mack Brown said today he is quite concerned about leaving the Big 12 and making it harder for parents and high school coaches to see the Longhorns play. I know Mack isn’t calling the shots on this one, but his opinion certainly matters. The fact that he’s so outspoken against this (or shall we say: in favor of slowing down this discussion) tells me at least that a deal with the Pac-12 is hardly close.
All that happened today with the OU and Texas boards of regents is that they authorized their respective school presidents to take some action. For Texas, the mandate is even more narrow. Bill Powers is authorized to explore options only, another sign a deal is far from done. Here’s what Powers said after the meeting: “This is an ongoing process. We will comment when the process is over, and right now we will just do what is best for the students, for the university and for our student-athletes.” Sounds a lot like what Mack was saying: “Right now, with regional leagues the parents can go see their kids play and that is really important. We better start considering what is in the best interest of the players, or at some point they are going to get so frustrated it is not going to be fun for them.”
OU president David Boren says he has not told the Big 12 Oklahoma is leaving, and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, in his press conference, sounded pretty upbeat: “It is my opinion that the case for the Big 12 … continues to be as strong today for our current members as it was last year.”
Last, we’ve been here before. Last year there was all this talk about the impending death of the Big 12. We pronounced it all but dead on these pages. Lo and behold, it survived! And it may yet again.
Let’s remember, the Big 12 is where Texas wants to stay. DeLoss Dodds has already put the equal revenue sharing offer on the table, which gives schools like Baylor and Kansas and K-State and, yes, Oklahoma State, even more incentive to lean on Oklahoma to stay.
This whole conference realignment moves fast, and it’s tempting to get caught up in it all. But the Big 12 isn’t yet dead. In fact, it just may live on.
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Susan Coel Clinton:
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