Welcome to Game Day 2011 y’all!
On the same day a new season is officially upon us, and just a day after Texas A&M made its biggest jump yet in the latest game of conference leapfrog, the demise of the Big 12-ish is — again — reportedly upon us.
In a piece he penned for the Austin American-Statesman titled “One more move and Big 12 is over”, venerable columnist Kirk Bohls puts the onus for the survival of the conferences squarely on the shoulders of the Oklahoma Sooners. And presumably, based on those he’s spoken to, the Norman school is ready to put its current conference out of its misery and head west.
Should Oklahoma act upon its earnest desires and seek an invitation to join the Pacific-12 Conference — something I’m fully expecting to happen within days, if not hours — that decision could well be the killing blow to the Big 12 while also providing Texas the political cover to follow suit and ask for admission as well.
“Oklahoma owns all the cards,” a Big 12 source added.
But wait. There’s more says television infomercial guy. Bohls continues painting a landscape-shifting picture of Texas privately hoping that their Red River rivals make the first in a series of moves — thus ensuring that “the Longhorns’ hands would be politically clean” — in what would result in, “probably before the calendar turns to October… [y]our new Pac-16 members: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.”
That’s right. On the first official day of the 2011 season, one of the most respected writers in Big 12 country if not all of college football is not only very publicly seeing the end of the conference — presumably from a source or sources he’s developed from within the conference itself — he’s also saying that all of this will unfold in less than a month’s time.
As if to add a tanker full of fuel to the fire of speculation, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement to Suzanne Halliburton of the American-Statesman that does not dismiss Bohls’ scenario. At all.
“While I cannot predict if and when this (Pac-12 expansion) might make sense for us, we will listen to and evaluate any scenario that would benefit our member institutions, our student-athletes and our fans,” Scott
trolled told the paper.
And what of The Longhorn Network, the television elephant in the room that prevented the Pac-16 from being formed last year and played a prominent role in the Aggies departing this year? “The Longhorn Network gets folded into the Pac-16 as a downsized regional network, joining the six regional networks that already exist within the conference,” Bohls writes.
Of course, if Bohls’ apocalyptic scenario were to come to fruition — and obviously that’s a very, very big if right now — it would be a monumental shift for both the future of the game and for the 2011 itself. Instead of both eyes being focused squarely on the playing field for the foreseeable future, at least one would be trained squarely on the offices of the SEC and the Big Ten. Make no mistake; if the Pac-12 makes the first real leap into the super-conference stratosphere, the two power conferences will respond in kind — very forcefully, very emphatically.
So, again, welcome to Game Day 2011 y’all!
Or, as Bohls’ put it…
“In the end, these Big 12 schools should have gone their separate ways last summer and avoided all this unnecessary drama and hand-wringing.”
Amen, brutha. Amen.