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Pac-12 Expansion: If No Texas, Could Kansas And Missouri Pick Up The Slack?

Would the Border War be another potential rivalry added to a Pac-16?
Would the Border War be another potential rivalry added to a Pac-16?

Oh Texas, you sly girl. Don't you ever change.

At this point, independence is looking like the end result. Why?

Ego and power.

Texas does not want to concede either. It doesn't want to give up its precious Longhorn Network, nor does it want its clout diminished by joining another established conference where it won't have as big a say.

By clinging to their new toy — a valuable one, at that — and flaunting it, and insisting on uneven revenue sharing, the Longhorns have alienated the rest of the conference, created unrest and acrimony, and thrown their weight around so much that schools in their own league see them as a bully.

Texas is really relishing its role as top earner in the Big 12. They sure don't want to let go of it, not for the money of the Pac-12, not for independence, not for anything. So an upgrade from call girl to personal escort seems like the reasonable move for them. And it's pretty much a death blow for them ever gaining entrance to the Pac-12.

If the Longhorns aren't sucking for a grand though, what happens next for the conference?

Larry Scott can talk a big game about plucking the Oklahomas from the Big 12, but I'm guessing Longhorn higher-ups are calling his bluff. If the commissioner didn't think Texas would be a part of his long-term plan, then he won't take on the Oklahoma schools solely for the Pac-14. There are too many issues with a 14 team conference, and there's barely any benefit to adding ONLY the Sooner State in the next expansion bid for the conference.

So Texas still holds the trump card in terms of being negotiated out of the Pac-14, regardless of whatever negotiating tactics Scott throws out there. Texas will do its best to keep Oklahoma from moving forward and try to convince them they can be feudal partners in crime over their Big 12 fiefdom, although that'll never be quite the case with the albatross of the LHN. But Oklahoma might go along if Texas was willing to make the necessary concessions.

If Texas pulls out, Scott might have to move onto Plan B for the Pac-16. With Texas predictably dragging away, there's no reason to wait for the Longhorns to think about things responsibly. So why not pick up a different package? Why not grab four of five of the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas St. Wildcats and Missouri Tigers?

There are definite positives (if not upside) to such a move. Kansas would massively upgrade the college basketball aspect of the conference, and Kansas/UCLA instantly becomes one of the marquee matchups on the calendar (I'm sure Scott will do his best to ensure that would be a yearly fixture).

On the other hand, the football division would be that much more lopsided to the Oklahoma schools, as neither Kansas school has contended for eons. The Pac-8 would be one of the most fun divisions in America, but it'd be offset by the Mountain-8, a division that'll require lots of time and effort from the other six schools to dislodge the Bedlam Rivalry for the bid to the conference championship game.

In terms of academics, a Kansas/Missouri duo isn't too shabby. It provides two more solid public state schools into a conference that is full of quality public state schools. Finally, media market-wise, the conference would lose out on Texas, but scooping up markets like Oklahoma City, Kansas City and St. Louis (all top 60 population centers) could be crucial in terms of potential outreach, and could lead toward Texas (which is full of alumni from all of these Big 12 schools) picking up the Pac-12 Network.

Between Kansas State and Missouri, I'd lean Tigers because of the KC/St. Louis growth opportunities. Kansas State will always have the Big East offer and should be able to retain their game with Kansas. Plus Kansas-Missouri is already a rivalry that's a Civil War old, so there's plenty of blood (real blood) spilled in this one. Missouri is supposedly being courted heavily by the SEC, which would make sense in expanding their conference footprint, which is why Kansas State should also be considered as a potential option.

And these divisions ...

Pac-16 West (the original Pac-8): Cal, Oregon, Oregon St, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Washington St.


Pac-16 East: Arizona, ASU, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Utah

... make plenty of sense geographically and dynamically. The mountain schools get their one trip out to the west coast for recruiting purposes, the West Coast schools get to go inland once and get as close to the eyes of Texas as they possibly can without entering the state, and the conference still will be the dominant power out West for ages to come.

The biggest loser from Texas recalcitrance would be Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have no Plan B in expansion, and might have to wait until the SEC expands. Sorry Tech, but there's no way we can justify Lubbock without Austin to anyone. A partnership with your old friends from College Station might not be a bad fallback plan.

And the best part of this potential deal? The Pac-12 won't have to deal with high maintenance Texas on a regular basis.

Honestly, the Texas act has grown rather old, and as much prestige as the Longhorns might bring the conference, it would be nice to deal with partners that believe in equity rather than exploitation. Texas has treated its partners in the Big 12 badly in hopes of extracting every potential cent of value, and their self-interest will be too much to deal with the long run.

It's time Larry. Drive the stake into the heart of the Big 12. The age of the superconference is here, and it's time for the Pac-12 to lead the way there.

(But of course, if Texas is serious about the Pac-12, I take it all back! Austin City Limits! Dell laptops for everyone! SXSW! Mangia dinosaur!)