September 2, 2011

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.”

[Emphasis added.]

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.

Adds fuel the fire Chas. I do believe they were trying to get both Pitt & ND at first, I mean who wouldn’t…fantasy or not. (contrary to what this San Jose Mercury blogger suggests) And the Texas AD (Dodds) & the ND AD (Swarbrick), are on good terms. Word is Texas would replace their annual football game with TAMU around Thanksgiving, with ND. That would get a huge TV rating. So that makes sense that Dodds would have felt out Swarbrick about joining the Big 12.

I’m sure the Big 12 would like some geography and links created between it’s eastern most member (Mizzou) and Pitt. So Louisville would be a natural fix for that and how do you make your TV contract worth more money. You add two large Northeast TV markets to your conference. Pittsburgh & New Jersey and to certain extent NYC.

That would be a blockbuster, if the Big 12 (currently at 9 teams) comes back with Pitt, Rutgers & Louisville. Losing A&M would mean almost nothing and in fact in TV contract land, it’s a real bonanza getting Pitt & the others.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.02.11 @ 4:51 pm

And again folks this is all about pre-positioning yourself(and of course the extra revenue) BEFORE the eventual expansion to the 4 Mega conferences. It would drive Delaney nuts having Pitt and Rutgers in the Big 12. What with two Big 12 TV markets, one smack dab in the middle of his conf (Pitt) and one that hems him in on the eastern flank(Rutgers).

And if the big 4 Mega’s never come to pass, we’re still in a lot better position(in a real football conference), making a lot more money(more than double than now), with Rutgers it could be more than triple). And poking an eye in Diaper Joe’s eye. This is a good scenario for us.

Comment by melvinbennett 09.02.11 @ 4:59 pm

If the Big 10 won’t invite you, then you make them invite you. This is the only way Pitt can actually… eventually get an invite to the Big 10.
Again if and when they go to 14 or 16.
And again, if they don’t we’re still in a good position, much better than now.

You become a real competitor to them and then…just like in business they go after their competitors. And one way, is you recruit and hire their parts.

Anyway gotta go, it’s Happy Hour!

Comment by melvinbennett 09.02.11 @ 5:07 pm

Hey Mel, sounds good on drinks in the future. Will do.

I see a good reason now, after reading the article, why the Texas going independent almost has no chance. So obvious, but I never thought of it. Need a conference for all of their olympic sports. Need a tie in, and the only tie in would be with a BCS type conference, no one will want them, and I can’t see Texas saying “we’re going independent, and our olympic sports will have a tie in with the Sun Belt Conference”.

Good stuff, Chas, I’m sure you’re ready for the season.

Checking out!!! Let’s Go Pitt!!!!!!!

Comment by Dan 09.02.11 @ 5:10 pm

Thanks, Chas. I read Wilmer a lot because I’m also a Pac-12 fan, and he seems to be plugged in.

Comment by Scott 78 09.02.11 @ 5:12 pm

If Pitt joins the Big Twelve both the Chancellor and the AD should be fired. Why join a conference where we will be bullied around by Texas? Also Jamie Dixon would be gone at the end of this year if we would do such as stupid thing.

Comment by John In South Carolina 09.02.11 @ 7:31 pm

I don’t think Pitt would join the Big 12 under the present circumstances, but the entire landscape could shift dramatically at any time, so it’s best to keep one’s options open.

Comment by maguro 09.02.11 @ 7:41 pm

I vote for the Sun Belt!!!!!!

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.02.11 @ 8:05 pm

Oklahoma University president says multiple conferences have shown interest in OU and they’ll make a decision “within 3 days and 3 weeks” about whether they’ll leave or stay in the Big 12. Looks like the dominos are starting to tumble.

Comment by Scott 78 09.02.11 @ 8:06 pm

Bennett’s D gets trashed early.

Comment by steve 09.02.11 @ 8:16 pm

Big 10 will go to 16which means they need 4 more.


There are your four. Athletic and academic fit.

Texas, OU, Ok st, Kansas to PAC 16

Mizzu, Virginia tech, FSU, Clemson to SEC

WVU, UCONN, Louisville to ACC

Only wild card is ND. If they stay independent then UCONN takes their place in Big 10 and Cincinnati goes to ACC

either way PITT is ok this go around if dominoes begin to fall. Big 10 or ACC will be where we land if BiG EAST falls. Don’t count out the BE as I can assure you they are throwing around scenarios to tv guys that includes mizzu, OU, OK st and K St.

Comment by Pitt fan in Atlanta 09.02.11 @ 8:51 pm

TCU losing to Baylor. aarrgghh

We gotta get outta this place

Comment by steve 09.02.11 @ 9:32 pm

Melvin, great news. If Oklahoma bails from the Big 12, the Big 12 will have another slot open. If Pitt goes hat-in-hand and talks to the Big 12 politely, maybe the Big 12 will let Pitt join them. Your dream has a good chance of coming true.

Comment by BigGuy 09.02.11 @ 10:17 pm

Torn TCU or Phil Bennet?

Comment by POLE 09.02.11 @ 10:19 pm

If Oklahoma leaves then the B12 is more unstable than the BE … I believe then there would more of a chance of Kansas, KSU and possibly Missouri coming east than Pitt or anyone else going west.

Comment by wbb 09.02.11 @ 10:58 pm

This Baylor/TCU game is pretty amazing.

Comment by Jimbo Covert's My Dad 09.02.11 @ 11:24 pm

That TCU defense isn’t going to win the big east.

Comment by PiLam1994 09.03.11 @ 12:08 am

Nice column by Ron Cook

link to

Comment by AZPANTHER 09.03.11 @ 3:40 am

Well I guess we now know what happens when TCU doesn’t have 30 days to prepare for the one and only AQ conference team they play each season. Baylor gave up a shit load of points, but we all have Phil Bennett to thank for holding together the tiniest of shreds of Pitt Football that were left last January.

Comment by Chris 09.03.11 @ 4:50 am


right ,,,,and your dream is playing Memphis. UCF & East Carolina in an expanded BigEast. Give me a break !

Comment by melvinbennett 09.03.11 @ 5:25 am

If they raid the Big East, I guess PITT will have to follow the rest of the teams to the BIG 12 but one team shouldn’t be above the rest. Texas would always have the last word on everything.

Comment by Pittastic 09.03.11 @ 5:36 am

Comment by wbb 09.03.11 @ 8:04 am

I like WBB’s scenario best, it might be a dream but it adds to both football and bball. The problem with all the others is that the greatest bball league ever is crushed. I like joining the Texas 12 the least. The Big Ten has the best combo of football and bball, but Pitt is too small to fit. The ACC is probably the best fit and it would be fun to beat Duke and North Carolina more often. Can you see them coming to the Pete?

My wet dream is to have ND, PSU, Maryland and BC come to the Big East. Nobody could touch us then. Best in BBall, Outstanding football, outstanding academics, and a TV contract that would dwarf all of the others. Never gonna happen but I love fantasy.

Comment by gc 09.03.11 @ 8:17 am

For now going to the game tonight and hoping for the best. Let’s Go Pitt!

Comment by gc 09.03.11 @ 8:20 am

Looking good for either a temporary new Big East with the likes of Missouri, Kansas, K-State and I-State. But, that falls apart when the SEC, ACC and Big 10 begin to make moves. Those moves should happen fast since the first one to ask the pretty girl to the prom usually wins. The Big 12 is dead since it appears that the Sooners are tired of being the Long Horn’s bitch as well. I expect acceptance to the Pac 10 within 2 months.

‘Shockingly Bear’ is on the first page of the sports section in Fort Worth. It would appear that TCU is just another normal team and isn’t that far above Pitt or WVU. Can one say OVERRATED? In fact, both those teams would probably destroy TCU this year. TCU lost their stud QB and their defense is not the same. So much for making the Big Least more attractive. And, neither will adding the Big 12 leftovers. Pitt needs to approach the deal makers in the ACC this weekend. Smiley Smug and Nordy better be on that plane down to Carolina after tonight’s game. If the ACC expands, can’t they begin renegotiating their terrible TV contract? The ACC looks to lose 2 members when the dust settles. Wouldn’t Pitt, WVU, Cuse, UConn, Butgers, and Louisville be fine additions?

Comment by TX Panther 09.03.11 @ 8:48 am

Popping aspirin again. Nudge me awake when Oklahoma drops its bomb on the Big 9, meantime, I’m going to sleep off this conference BS headache and then rally for the Pitt pregame later.

Comment by Dr. Tom 09.03.11 @ 9:37 am

The big 10 will never take PITT.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.03.11 @ 9:43 am

Pitt is one of the top 65 teams in academics are any of the outher big east teams in that top 65.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.03.11 @ 10:40 am

The best thing for big east would be for Oklahoma to leave the big 12. We would than pick up Kansas Kansas ST and Iowa st. Than we would have 21 for BB three 7 team devisions we would play each team in your division twice. And play the outher 14 teams once for a total of 26 games.

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.03.11 @ 11:47 am

“and your dream is playing Memphis. UCF & East Carolina in an expanded BigEast. Give me a break !”

Melvin, what in the hell are you talking about???
UCF? Sure. ECU? Possibly. Memphis? Never.
Your scenario: Pitt to the Big 12. When they get there: “Hey, where did every one go? This room is empty and somebody shut off the lights!”
As of today, the BE is solid with other colleges knocking on the door trying to get in. Your Big 12? Hey, let me out of here!

Comment by BigGuy 09.03.11 @ 12:14 pm

OPPS there would be 20 not 21 ,

Comment by FRANKCAN 09.03.11 @ 1:19 pm


Of course we wouldn’t go if Oklahoma or Texas leaves. I thought that would have been obvious.
Must I explain everything. sheesh

Comment by melvinbennett 09.03.11 @ 5:33 pm

If you read Boren’s stmt. closely, he says he’d still prefer to stay in the Big 12 and get back to 12 teams. They might just be trying to gain some concessions from Texas and also get ESPN to launch a Sooner network or something of that sort. From what I’ve read elsewhere, ESPN would also like to see the Big 12 stay in existence.

Pitt games always do pretty well in the TV ratings side on ESPN, we shall see what happens.

Let’s point up some big numbers ! Go Pitt!

Comment by melvinbennett 09.03.11 @ 5:43 pm

ACC Baby, still have good football and Coach Dixon would be happy by still having excellent basketball!

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Comment by Byron 09.04.11 @ 11:12 am

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