Big 12 football: Baylor ultimatum could backfire
You’ve sort of got to admire little ol’ Baylor. The Baptists have risen up on the football field and no longer are anyone’s punching bag. Now Baylor is fighting back in the boardroom.
Baylor refuses to waive its right to sue the Southeastern Conference, should the SEC admit Texas A&M and put the Big 12 in danger of dissolving. But Baylor also appears to be in the business of alienating OU, and by extension, OSU. Reports out of Waco, Texas, on Wednesday said six schools — Baylor, Missouri, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas — had vowed that they would let A&M leave the Big 12 with a promise of no lawsuit, provided the Sooners re-committed to the conference. By Wednesday night, espn.com was reporting that all eight schools in the conference other than A&M and OU had resolved to issue the same deal. No lawsuit, if the Sooners stayed.
It was a bogus report. Texas Tech denied the original Waco Tribune report, and OSU officials vehemently denied the espn.com report, saying they would never put OU in such a compromising position. The Sooners were supporters of the 10-team Big 12, but after A&M’s stated desire to leave the conference, OU began considering its options.
Some within the league believe the reports stem from Baylor president Kenneth Starr and his last-ditch efforts to save the Big 12 for the Bears, who could be left with no good options if the Big 12 crumbles.
But even should the Big 12 be saved, this time, what has this kind of deal-making wrought?
If A&M is forced to stay in the league, and it continues at 10 teams, what kind of environment would ensue? It would be a pirate ship of a conference. A virtual prison, with every school sleeping with one eye open, because it trusts no one. Do you think OU, much less A&M, wants to be in a league with Baylor after Wednesday?
You talk about planning an exit strategy.
Or let’s say the threat would work — a far-fetched idea; when did anyone ever get ahead in life threatening David Boren? OK, so OU’s back in, with no A&M, and the league needs a 10th team, which everyone agrees would, best-case scenario, be Brigham Young. BYU has been waffling on its interest in the Big 12. Some in Provo believe independence works better for the Cougars.
Now, those BYU skeptics have to grow, don’t they? Does a Big 12 held together by desperation and threats, still with widespread resent of Texas, sound like something anyone would want to join if they don’t have to? Not even the lure of a possible BCS bid would make that palatable to BYU.
Lose BYU and you’ve lost the last school that could pull its weight in television prowess. Then the Big 12 would be back to Air Force or old Southwest Conference leftovers, and that’s the last thing OU wants, and you’ve got a mess far worse than the current anarchy.
It’s possible that Wednesday was the darkest day in Big 12 history, other than the days Nebraska and Colorado left. The league disintegrated into mass chaos.
There have been valid reasons for OU and OSU to remain in the Big 12. Regional rivalries. Long-term associations. Familiarity. But there are fewer reasons today to stay in the Big 12 than there were yesterday. Some have told the Sooners to get away from the Longhorns.
Get away from Texas? How about getting away from Baylor?
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