“There’s a willingness to put it together on everybody’s part,” said a Big 12 source. Discussions are “still going on, but more small things than really big items. Everybody understands it’s not a short-term deal.”
A Big 12 source who hoped his or her school would make the jump to the Pac-10 said, “I’m afraid it has come untracked. Looks like it has passed us by.”
OU, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Texas A&M were invited to the Pac-10 over the weekend. Colorado accepted an invitation to the Pac-10 last week and Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten, leaving the Big 12 with 10 schools.
In the last two days, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe put together a television-contract proposal that would net each Big 12 school at least $14 million and as much as $20 million per year for heavyweights Texas and Oklahoma. Additionally, each school would be allowed to pursue its own network, which could reap even more money for the Sooners and Longhorns.
The only apparent sticking point could be Texas A&M, which has become infatuated with the Southeastern Conference in the last few days. The proposed deal is for a 10-team conference. If A&M was able to defect to the SEC — it’s not clear that Texas politicians now would allow it, with UT set to remain in the Big 12 — then the Pac-10 possibility would return.
“If Texas A&M wants to be in control, they’re in control,” the Big 12 source said.
Perhaps the greatest concern for continuing the Big 12 is conference stability. Will the schools remain together over the next five years?
Missouri, for instance, openly campaigned for a Big Ten slot. Plus the five South schools talked with the Pac-10 or SEC or both.
“Those kinds of things, who can fault them,” the Big 12 source said. “At the end of the day, that’s what you’re hired for. To do what’s best for your employer.
“It’s a big-boy’s league. A big-boy’s world.”
A 10-team Big 12 is expected to include a full round-robin conference football schedule. NCAA rules prohibit a championship game unless a conference has at least 12 teams and two divisions.
A Big 12 source also said the league would look at playing a double round-robin basketball schedule, which would be 18 games.
The Big 12 is not expected to consider expansion. “Ten is all anyone wants at this point,” the Big 12 source. “There’s not a feeling of trepidation. This opens up some opportunities” non-conference.
Both OU and OSU have scheduled regents meetings for Wednesday to discuss conference realignment, but both are contingency meetings, in case the current Big 12 talks somehow break off and the Pac-10 is back on the table.
“The train was rolling toward the Pac-10,” said a Big 12 administrator. “I don’t think it is now. It’s 95 percent likely that this blew up and Humpty Dumpty miraculously got put back together again.”