Conference Realignment: Oklahoma & Oklahoma State Close To The Pac-12, Texas Still Playing Hard To Get

We're moving all the closer to the Pac-14 with the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma St. Cowboys. The Pac-16 could be a little further away.

The Oklahoma regents have handed over powers to Sooner president David Boren to decide what's best for the conference. As has been reported for a few weeks now, the Okies are ready to move to the West as soon as humanly possible. They will go with or without their antagonists to the South, and then the conference will be that much closer to the 16-team makeup they covet.

Boren's comments make it clear which way he's leaning (Part I and Part II here).

 (apply for Pac-12 membership within a week?)

"I don’t want to go into those kinds of details. I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to go into those kinds of details. Let me just say we’ve had conversations, informal conversations, with the Pac-12 and those conversations have been very warm and very constructive.

(any chance the Big 12 survives?)

"Well, I don’t think that’s a foregone conclusion at all, as to what might happen to the Big 12 in the future. Yes, I think there is a possibility the Big 12 survives. We have not taken off the table our possibility of remaining in the Big 12. That’s an option we’ve not taken off the table. Nor have we taken off the option of going to the Pac-12. Of course, the ball would be in our court to make application for membership, should we decide to do so.

(any interest?)

"I don’t even want to comment on that. I think, at this point in time, we want to examine all of our options. I would say that the principle focus, beyond the Big 12 itself – which is still a focus for us – is the Pac-12.

 

(Pac-12 say to back off? Academic stuff? Just OU/OSU?)

"No one has given us any words of discouragement on any front. No conference. Nor has the Big 12 given us any words of discouragement, either.

Hi new partners!

The Texas Longhorns have a lot of work to do though if they plan on negotiating themselves (and likely Texas Tech along with them) to a Pac-16. They need to reduce the scope of the Longhorn Network, and by reduce I mean "find the exhaust vent to dump proton torpedoes through to blow to a million pieces". They need to agree to equal revenue sharing, something they have tried their best to evade at every juncture. The Pac-12 is hardballing Texas, and they aren't going to let up on those issues until they're all in or out.

Or they could play games (AGAIN) and drive us all mad with years of expansion talk. Peter Bean of Burnt Orange Nation does a good job describing this nightmare scenario.

Let's momentarily set aside what is going to happen and consider, again, what Texas would like to happen. Again, for Texas, the optimal short-term solution is to salvage some kind of workable Big 12, slowing down the fall of realignment dominoes and buying some time to make its long-term decision. Why is time so important? Because with a little more time, and all the information that will come with it, there are -- at least potentially -- more options on the table for Texas.  The extra information might reveal independence to be more viable/workable than it appears right now (i.e. less risky). The extra time and information might also open up possibilities for Texas and, say, Notre Dame, to make a move together.  It's also possible that the extra time and information might leave Texas more or less in exactly the same position it is in right now, but the opportunity to make that decision with the additional information would be valuable in and of itself.

The talk of Notre Dame is interesting. Texas obviously doesn't want to shoulder Texas Tech as their new arch-rival; they're happy with them as the little brother, just as Cal does with UCLA.  But coveting a partnership with Notre Dame? It would make their football contests the most lucrative in all of college sports. Texas has always aspired to think they can be a power like the Irish--on top and ahead of everyone. In their eyes, partnership with them is the only partnership where both parties are equal in their power--and the relative resentment they engender from other schools.

Too bad Notre Dame would never thinking of joining a western super conference. In terms of academics and conference power, they'd be a great fit for the Pac-16, and along with Texas would make the Pac-16 the most powerful conference in the country. But Notre Dame's eyes are fixed east, so any supposed Texas-Notre Dame partnership  to the Pac-16 would be moot. I'm not even sure Notre Dame is aware that Texas wants to partner with them though.

So Texas could consider keeping what's left of the Big 12 together, or seek independence. Right now the LHN stands on perilous ground and doesn't look like it's in a strong enough position to guarantee massive profits. While it's unlikely, I can understand why Texas would want to wait things out and see if their options grow. If the LHN proves to gain widespread distribution (unlikely) and become a viable national network that regular Texas fans can get on regular cable (VERY unlikely), then maybe, just maybe, Texas would gain something from independence over taking the Pac-12 deal, and could choose their own fate.

But to keep the Big 12 intact, Texas would have to keep Oklahoma in line. Oklahoma wants equal revenue sharing, and Texas has not yet shown that they want concede that. So Oklahoma goes, and Texas is left with a bad conference

However, being recalitrant with the Pac-12 when it's clear an invitation awaits them will probably doom them from ever being invited to the conference. More from Peter:

That last part is key, because on an accelerated timeline the Pac-12 has much more leverage than it would if, say, Texas and Oklahoma held out together and then forced the Pac-12 to negotiate favorably with the two schools in order to secure their presence in its super-conference.  Because let's face it, if the Pac-12 strikes out on both, it's a big, big blow to their stature in a super-conference future. Look at the other western-oriented candidates... it's slim pickings.

This assessment is probably incorrect, as Scott has shown interest in looking toward the north if things go awry with the Horns again. While the Kansas Jayhawks and the Kansas St. Wildcats aren't the super-optimal options, they're still fairly good, and it does offer the possibilities of capturing the Kansas City (larger than Oklahoma City when you combine both parts) and Wichita markets. Additionally, while the SEC is supposedly reaching out to the Missouri Tigers if the Big 12 breaks apart to form a 14 team SEC, the Pac-12 would be interested in them fi they can somehow get a Kansas/Missouri partnership to work. This is less likely than garnering both of the Kansas schools though.

Plus it's not like Texas isn't full of alum of the aforementioned four schools. The odds drastically increase that the Pac-12 Network gains distribution to the millions upon millions of cable/satellite TV subscribers within the state of Texas if the Kansas/Oklahoma schools join up. So the Pac-12 could get some of what they wanted without Texas after all--more eyeballs watching their conference on a daily basis.

Also, a Pac-16 doesn't need Texas. A Pac-16 without Texas would be everything Scott would ever want from a conference--stability, with everyone buying in on equal revenue sharing, and 16 competitive teams in both football and basketball that would have pretty good chances of winning in the long run. All in all, I'd take that if Texas decided not to answer the conference's calls in the next few days, the Pac-12 would happily move onto more homely and stable partners.

Texas must be neutered and put in its place, or they'll always come back to stir up trouble. The Horns must know that the Pac-12 is tired of their games and will very happily go to a 16-team conference without them if necessary. It's time for Texas to start conceding things, regardless of where they end up, before everyone else secedes from their clutches and they're left with no optimal solutions. 

Oh sure, the desire is there for more action with the super hot one, even if she'll probably drown your pets down the line. But who wants all of that drama when you can have 16 stable partners to rely on for good nights ahead?

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