I have things to do tonight to clear the deck for the weekend in Pittsburgh. So no time to break down this latest rundown on expansion/conference realignment mess.
Several sources said that while the media attention is locked on the Big 12’s purported courtship of BYU, what’s really happening behind the scenes is this:
The Big 12 is considering a raid of the Big East for at least two teams and perhaps more.
The names I heard from multiple sources were Pittsburgh and Rutgers, but I have to believe others, including Louisville and West Virginia, are in play.
The key items from this story to remember. The timeline for this stuff has allegedly been accelerated, but we are still talking in terms of years not months.
UPDATE: As if this wasn’t enough, well there is more.
Oklahoma’s President, David Boren (the president of the school?) was surprisingly blunt about things.
“We have to study the best options for ourselves and not lock ourselves into a course of action until we know what’s best for the university. We’re heavily involved. I don’t know how long it will be before clarity comes to us. My experience is that, in these kinds of things, it might be a matter of 72 hours, it might be a matter of two weeks. I don’t really think this is something that’s going to linger on beyond two or three weeks, from the outside. This has been consuming my life the last few days. It’s a fascinating challenge. We’re just in the search for what’s best for the university.
“If I start discussing too much detail, I’d compromise. We obviously want stability in our conference relationships. We want partners that are above outstanding, both athletically and academically. A conference that’s strong is not only stable, but it’s one in which there are multiple relationships, along with sports, between university members. We have some great partners in the existing Big 12. We have interest from other conferences and other universities. It’s really attributed to the strength of the programs at the University of Oklahoma that there is so much interest in us. We have to carefully evaluate the various comments being made to us and various possibilities before we decide what’s best for the University of Oklahoma.”
Oklahoma is going to be deciding its future in the next 3 days to 3 weeks, and obviously they are looking for the long term. That Boren is making it known that they have multiple conferences interested — read as: Pac-12 and SEC — can be read so many ways.
The obvious is that it is a bidding war. Make your pitches, boys. Give us the reason to go your way.
The other is a shot fired at Texas. We stayed with you so far, but now it is time to rethink this. If you want us to stay, you have to take some steps back from the Longhorn Network and how far you want to control the whole conference.
Oklahoma really does hold the fate of the Big 12 in its hands. No other program in the conference — outside of Texas — can just walk away from the Big 12. Mizzou, Kansas, etc, they don’t have the prestige or more importantly the money to just walk away. (Okay Oklahoma St. with T. Boone Pickens’ money probably can as well, but they are probably joined with Oklahoma.)
It’s an underdiscussed point. Teams like Mizzou and Kansas might want to run away at this point. Maybe even to the Big East. Jump before they are pushed, but unlike what Texas A&M did, they can’t just give up their TV money for a year and pay a penalty to leave. They have to wait for the conference to collapse and free them from those obligations before they move.
Far less powerful, but almost as telling. Mizzou football head coach Gary Pinkel gives his thoughts about the whole mess of the Big 12.
“Without question there’s some issues that other leagues don’t have. You don’t hear anything about any other league in the country having these kind of problems. We all know where it starts. [Missouri athletic director] Mike Alden’s not the point man here. Dan Beebe is. Dan Beebe’s our commissioner. He’s the guy to ask. I don’t know what they’re going to do. I’m just focusing now on winning the football game.
“There’s just no one in the country, no other league in the country, where this stuff goes on. And it’s really a shame because the potential of the league is just so tremendous.”
I know it is still hard to believe. But it really does appear that there is a conference commissioner more ineffectual and inept than John Marinatto.
For the record, no team will have more potential options than Mizzou. They could end up in the Pac-12, SEC or Big 10 by the time this all shakes out. That mix of media market and geographic location puts them in position to be wooed by all 3. Make no mistake, all three are well aware that things may be speeding up and after Oklahoma makes a choice — and forces Texas as well — the Tigers will be the best looking girl at the bar when the lights come on at closing time.
Oh, and then there is this bit of desperation from the Big 12 offices:
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe convened a conference call late Friday afternoon with a handful of his conference’s presidents to discuss the increasing possibility that Oklahoma wants to bolt the Big 12 for the Pac-12, multiple sources said.
Texas president Bill Powers, Oklahoma president David Boren and Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin were excluded from the call, sources said. But Beebe advised the other presidents in the Big 12 to “work on Texas” to get the Longhorns to stay in the Big 12, sources said.
It’s Beebe’s belief that if Texas refuses to go to the Pac-12 that Oklahoma would not get a bid from the Pac-12, sources said. But another source close to the situation said if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State indicated to the Pac-12 that they wanted to be a part of that league, they would be admitted.
If Beebe really believes that Oklahoma wouldn’t go to the Pac-12 without Texas, he is a fool. It’s a long game, and Texas needs a conference. They may envision the possibility of a ND scenario, but the MWC hosting all their sports but football isn’t the same as playing b-ball in the Big East.
Oklahoma doesn’t have to worry about the Texas legislature freaking out. That is Texas and Texas A&M’s problem.