On Sept. 3, and citing a university source, the Daily Oklahoman reported that Oklahoma’s sole focus was on a move from the Big 12 to the Pac-12.
Nearly three weeks later? Psyche! Gotcha! Buuurrrn!!!
Less than 24 hours after the Pac-12 announced it would not expand beyond its current membership, thus blocking OU’s expected conference move westward, what’s being a called a high-ranking OU source told the same paper that the OU/Oklahoma State coalition wanted people to think they were seriously eyeing the Pac-12 when all along they were working in tandem to keep the conference together. No, seriously, that’s how they’re framing this situation.
“But frankly, we [OU/OSU] wanted the impression out there that we might go to the Pac-12 because that gave us some leverage,” the source told the paper, apparently with a straight face and everything. “We were using that as leverage to say, ‘Hey, you want us to stay? Let’s have some of these reforms.'”
My head… all this spinning… when will the room… stop…
For the record, the word leverage was used six times in that piece. As someone on Twitter opined, if you have to tell someone you have leverage, you don’t. Or, as one Pac-12 official said in an email, “that’s was the best laugh I’ve had all day.”
Regardless of how the story is being “framed” in Norman and Stillwater, and regardless of how laughable this double-agent, James Bond spin is, there does appear to be one consistent theme in the here and now: there will need to be some significant concessions made in order to keep OU satisfied, although most of the leverage they were attempting to gain was likely lost when the Pac-12 made its announcement last night. As has previously been reported, there are a handful of concessions the Sooners, and presumably OSU as Mini-Me to OU’s Austin Powers, are seeking in order to add some stability to the conference.
Among the changes: removing of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe; adopting common rules for individual networks like the Longhorn Network; phasing in revenue sharing from primary television rights; and requiring a commitment of rights of more than five years from conference schools, which would commit all of their game revenues to the Big 12 during that time and make moving to another league difficult to impossible.
On the issue of revenue sharing, UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds stated today that athletic directors had already approved last spring the equal sharing of Tier 1 and Tier 2 revenues among all conference members; the presidents of the universities have yet to sign off on that item. One thing Dodds made clear, however, was that sharing revenues earned from The Longhorn Network, which falls under Tier 3 rights, is nonnegotiable. It’s believed that’s not a major concern of OU as the school has already been working on creating its own network.
The issues surrounding the LHN mainly revolve around the televising of high school football games or highlights, as well as UT’s desire to broadcast an additional football game — a conference game — per season.
Nine of the conferences members, with the obvious exception of Texas A&M, will hold what’s being called a stability teleconference Thursday to begin the process of hashing out the issues that need to be resolved before the Big 12 can begin to move forward.