Okay, so the Big 12 isn’t quite dead yet. It certainly feels like it’s getting there, believe you me, but like a villain in a horror movie, it just won’t quite go away.
You see, technically, Texas A&M hasn’t officially crossed the bridge to the SEC due to a hissy fit from Baylor, even though everyone else in the Big 12 is content on letting the move happen without interruption. In the end, Baylor’s laments shouldn’t keep A&M from departing, but the bigger question that has been looming over Irving, Texas, is what will happen once the Aggies are gone.
Dissecting into comments made by Oklahoma president David Boren, it would appear that the Sooners are seriously considering all options when it comes to their future conference affiliation (i.e., moving to the Pac-12). Since the survival of the Big 12 is dependent on OU and Texas staying put, it would make sense that two would collaborate in some way since Oklahoma had previously gone in the same direction of the Longhorns.
As we noted yesterday, though, that may not be the case.
“Their bond has frayed, [between UT and OU]” a source told the San Jose Mercury News. “Texas overplayed its hand.”
But let’s say hypothetically — hell, just about everything in this conference realignment v 2.0 outside of A&M-to-the-SEC has been speculation anyway, so what’s the harm now? — the Big 12 dissolved, and OU and Oklahoma State moved on to the Pac-12. Would Texas follow?
Maybe; the Pac-12 would certainly take the Longhorns if they wanted to come. But the big legal elephant, of course, revolves around the Longhorn Network.
As BusinessofCollegeSports.com‘s Kristi Dosh notes, the LHN could morph into one of the Pac-12’s regional networks.
“The bottom line is that the Longhorn Network will not prevent Texas from joining the Pac-12 if that’s what all the parties involved want,” Dosh writes.
But therein lies the question: is that what Texas wants?
Additionally, there there appears to be a matter of differences in mental wavelengths that could act as a deterrent for the Longhorns to move west.
From the San Jose Mercury News this morning:
“It has a different culture,” one source said.
Another suggested UT’s future conference affiliation is more about state political aims than football revenue. And the Lone Star State’s true power-brokers have always looked east — to the halls of Washington in particular.
This is the state that produced LBJ and the Bushes … and now has another presidential candidate, Gov. Rick Perry.
Would the state’s power brokers — and that includes Perry — really allow the state university to move its center of gravity to the west coast?
That, not The Longhorn Network, could be what keeps Texas out of the Pac-12.
The Mercury News later goes on to comment that Texas is willing to do whatever it takes, including sharing more revenue with Oklahoma, to keep the Big 12 alive.
That makes sense. Unless a better offer comes along for Texas, the Longhorns are the top bread winner in an uneven revenue-distributing conference with two sources of income. An easier path to the BCS is an attractive incentive as well.
Point being, don’t necessarily count on Texas to be the card-holder in this realignment saga like they were last year. If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State move on, though, the Longhorns will have some decisions to make.
UPDATED 11:45 a.m. ET: Those decisions could be narrowed down to two options for UT: head west, or go independent. Multiple sources have told the Eugene Register-Guard that the Pac-12, just as we suspected and other have reported, would take Oklahoma and Oklahoma State without Texas (UT needs to show the interest).
But, it may be in Texas’ best financial interest to move west. George Schroeder explains:
“The Pac-12’s new TV deal (12 years, $3 billion with ESPN and Fox) contains provisions that would trigger a bigger payday if the league expands. A source said the language is written to ensure that expansion would add value, not dilute it.
“Thus, a Pac-16 would be able to provide Texas more money than it could make as an independent, and certainly more than it would make from a watered-down Big 12.”
Would Texas love more money? Always. Would they be okay sharing power with 15 other members? To be determined.