The Pac-12 Staying Put At 12
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Pac-12 Says No To Further Expansion
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Don’t fall for it.
Yes, Commissioner Larry Scott came out and said the Pac-12 members decided they’re happy with the way things are with a 12-team, newly expanded conference.
No, that doesn’t mean the league is going to stop looking into all of its options.
Yes, the Pac-12 probably did this to reject Texas before Texas could reject the Pac-12.
No, that doesn’t mean that Texas and Oklahoma won’t one day be a part of the Pac-12.
Yes, the Big 12 will probably get through the storm – again.
No, this doesn’t mean that the Big 12 is viable for the long term.
To try to connect all the moving parts and put the puzzle together, here’s what
appears to be going on …
- The Pac-12 wants Texas, but Texas isn’t quite sure what it wants to do. There isn’t one
single person who could greenlight Texas switching conferences. This is political, this is provincial, and this is ego, with several different parties and several different players in the mix.
There’s a sizable portion of the Longhorn world that 1) likes being Texas and wants everything to be centered around Austin; 2) doesn’t want to give up a dime of Longhorn Network revenue, which Texas would have to
split to join the Pac-12; and 3) really, really likes being Texas, and doesn’t like the idea that the Pac-12 is USC’s conference, sanctions and all, and that the league is centered around Los Angeles.
- Yes, the Pac-12 wants Texas, but it’s not sure about taking Oklahoma without Texas. Remember, this is first and foremost a business story, and while Oklahoma by itself would help the Pac-12 when it comes to the league’s cachet and as a selling point for TV, Oklahoma State,
who comes as part of the OU package, might be too much of a drag. If the Pac-12 could take just Texas and Oklahoma, Scott would find a way to make it happen. If it means getting Texas with Oklahoma along for the ride, the league might still suck it up at some point down the road and take on Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
- Oklahoma needs to be paid. The Big 12 won’t be on solid footing until Oklahoma feels like it’s every bit the equal of Texas when it comes to revenue share, and that includes the Longhorn Network. However, this isn’t about Texas having its own network - very soon all the schools, like Kansas State is
already starting to do, will be on-line with their own individual networks – this
is about wanting be seen as equals.
Nebraska, as we now know after the fact, couldn’t
get out of the Big 12 fast enough because it was
sick of Texas getting all the breaks and being the
center of the universe. Oklahoma is ten times as
tired of not being an equal in all areas, especially
after all the on-field success, and until the Big 12 figures out how to come up with a more equitable revenue sharing model, the league will continue to be in turmoil and will always be under siege. Missouri would leave for the Big Ten tomorrow for the asking,
and might end up in the SEC, and Iowa State and Kansas State are still going to look into the Big East as a backup plan. However …
- Texas doesn’t want to give up anything because it doesn’t have to. It’s making a pitch to the ACC while always keeping it out there that independence is an option. Even after tonight’s announcement, the Pac-12 would take Texas at any time if it wants to join by itself, and then there’s the part of the equation that no one is talking about.
Oh yeah, the Big Ten.
Don’t sleep on the league that started all this hubbub over a year ago by speculating about bringing in Texas. The Big Ten is conspicuously silent right now, but the wheels are spinning.
Despite public comments to the contrary this summer, Commissioner Jim Delany wants a 16-team league and he wants to do it very, very big,
because once it's done, that's it. There’s no one smarter or more forward-thinking in this game than Delany, and he’s not going to be outflanked. If Texas isn’t a part of the Big Ten it’s because either the Big Ten decided Texas is too big a pain in the butt, or Texas didn’t want to make the move after all the options were explored. The Big Ten isn’t going to lose Texas by being asleep at the wheel.
- Texas A&M still wants out. Texas A&M wants the SEC, and the SEC wants Texas A&M. What the SEC doesn’t want is a big legal battle with the Big 12, so it’s going through all the right channels and all the T crossing and I dotting to make sure this is done without any drama. This is going to happen, but it’s going to take a while.
- Pittsburgh and Syracuse are gone to the ACC, and the Big East is scrambling. TCU, who was planning on going to the Big East next year, now is wondering whether or not getting out of the Mountain West is a good idea. With this news from the Pac-12, and with the possibility that the Big 12 might survive, suddenly, the option of replacing Texas A&M in the Big 12 looks very, very appealing. TCU wanted to solidify itself in a BCS league and knew the Big 12 was unstable, and if something gets done to assure that Oklahoma and Texas are still around, TCU might want in.
What the Pac-12 just did is put everything on hold. Like the Texas A&M to SEC story that spun out of control with ridiculously
unfounded rumors that Clemson and Missouri were going to be added to the mix once A&M signed on, the Pac-12 wants to breathe.
The league just went from ten to 12 teams, it just
went to two divisions, and it just created a
conference championship; the schools want to drive
this around the block for a moment. However, again,
this is also a face-saver to announce that
everything is fine before Texas gets the chance to
say, "no thanks."
Just because the ACC made a big move, that doesn’t mean things are going to be done out of haste.
There are billions of dollars at stake here and the reputations of major universities are on the line with some schools, like Kansas, freaking out that not being aligned with a huge athletic conference would kill the school’s prestige.