It's Sunday, and shockingly, suddenly, here comes the Pac-16.
At least that's what the Austin Statesman says. Considering the source, it probably means this story isn't quite done yet, but something to just keep in mind before you start welcoming the Horns into the conference.
The Pac-12 appears to be working out the final details of a deal that would bring Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to the conference, sources close to the situation told Hookem.com and the American-Statesman on Sunday morning.
This movement was probably triggered by the sudden movement of the ACC to invite Pitt and Syracuse into the conference to expand to 14 teams on their own. Larry Scott said he was not interested in further expansion unless other moves were made, and the ACC's raid of the now beleaguered Big East was quite the strike. Scott can now claim he was reacting to the moves by the ACC rather than saying he took the original step, and it makes sense that he'd move to invite the four usual suspects back into the fold.
With that expansionary move by the conference, Texas pretty much could no longer bargain the ACC against the Pac-12 to try and keep the Longhorn Network as is. The ACC's interest in equal revenue sharing also might have been the final blow to any other preemptive moves Texas could've made with the Longhorn Network, which is clearly as anti-equal revenue sharing a network as they come. With no likely concessions coming from the ACC and Big Ten with regards to the BTN, it made sense to move back and look back at the more natural fit of the Pac-12.
Moreover, the bargaining advantage of Texas has deteriorated to the point where they are ready to fold up the LHN back into the Pac-12 regional TV network structure.
Nothing has been accepted or approved, yet, but the deal would allow the Longhorns to keep the Longhorn Network.
Texas, though, would have to add Pac-12 (soon to be 16) content to the LHN programming.
The Longhorns would be able to keep all of their revenue from the network if that amount is greater than one-sixteenth of what the entire Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. However, if one-sixteenth of the money the Pac-12 receives from third-tier rights ends up being a larger amount, the schools would divide the revenue evenly and everybody would receive the same amount, the source said.
"Nothing has been definitively confirmed. But that’s in the zip code," a source very familiar with the realignment discussions said Sunday. "This is not yet a done deal. It appears that (Pac-12 commissioner) Larry Scott is going to be able to work some magic and help Texas keep the Longhorn Network and their revenue stream."
So basically, the LHN would stay intact as Pac-12 Texas (or whatever the network decides to call it), and they'd have to pair up with Texas Tech in distributing content. It'd be a pretty big concession to give up all of that, but Texas might have no choice unless they really want to go out for independence.
It looks like Scott made the right choice to ignore Texas until they had to come to the bargaining table. Texas is like that super hot girl all the guys want, but will never get with you unless you deny them the attention and ego they believe they deserve. Then when it's clear she only had the choice between the sharp-dressed rugged man from the West, the average white-collar dude from the East, or a life wandering in the arid plains of the Midwest as a nun, she put her arm around the man with the faded jeans.
The Pac-12 decided to sit back and let expansion play out on its own, and realize Texas had only inferior options to pick from in this aggressive college football marketplace. Texas could choose between the ACC (which would only offer what the Pac-12 offered at the cost of breaking up most of Texas's traditional rivalries and diminishing their potential football product), independence (possible upside with the LHN, but highly uncertain scheduling and no guarantee they could ever get back into the expansion market), and the Pac-12 (regional distribution, a strong football conference, and could preserve the majority of their scheduling). Eventually, it was obvious who the conference had to pick.
It's still too early to determine if the Longhorns are just trying to survey the situation, then barter for last minute demands like they did in previous year's negotiations and then be forced out of the discussion. But all signs are positive that a Pac-16 is on its way.