The clock ticks down. The Big 12 could die, maybe as early as Friday, as Nebraska's deadline looms. Nearer My God To Thee. Some lament, wondering what will happen if the league gives up the ghost.
I wonder what will happen if the Big 12 lives. You want chaos, let these schools stay together 10 more minutes. Someone might torch a campus. How did this happen? How did the Big 12 become so dysfunctional? I guess I had my head in the sand. Didn't realize those early resentment days of the 1990s never fled. They instead festered, to where now a regal man like Tom Osborne will have to fight against emotion in deciding the fate of his Cornhuskers. To where a Baylor regent is calling Nebraska names, as if the Bears haven't been on Big 12 welfare since entering the league. Nebraska resents Texas' arrogance. South Division success vexes the North. Policy made 15 years ago remains a sore spot in some Big 12 ports. The question isn't why this league might splinter. The question is, how did it stay together this long? Some have ripped Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, which is like blaming the U.N. for the Gaza Strip horrors. These Hatfields and McCoys were feuding long before Beebe rode up on his stallion. The truth now is clear. This league worked only on a business level. These members never meshed. Here on the 38th parallel, this Everyman's Land of Oklahoma, where our schools are in the middle of this conference geographically and historically, we didn't sense the volatility. But it was oh so real. And we should have seen it coming. This was a marriage of convenience. The Texas schools needed a home. The Big Eight schools needed television sets. Those votes back in the mid-'90s — to distribute half the TV revenues based on appearances, to place the conference office in Dallas, to limit the partial academic qualifiers — reverberate still. Heck, votes still chap the North, with Nebraskans hacked off at the announcement last week that the football championship game will be anchored at JerryWorld through 2013. Think about that. The Big 12 has staged 14 championship football games. Seven have been played in Missouri. Seven in Texas. The league has finally given in to common sense and placed the game where the weather is assured, in maybe the finest stadium in the world, and some in the North take it as an affront, even though Kansas City got the basketball tournament through 2014. What's Beebe's job description? Firefighter? The truth of the matter is, the North resentment stems from two prime sources: Longhorn arrogance and South Division dominance. The 'Horns can be insufferable, but you've got to give UT this: Its leaders don't monkey around.