IRVING, Texas — If Oklahoma and Texas move their historic football rivalry away from October and the Texas State Fair, they'll do so without a push from the Big 12 Conference. So said commissioner Dan Beebe during the league's football media days Tuesday.
"The major consideration is to keep the traditions of the conference as well as we can, and the tradition of that game has been around the state fair," Beebe said. "I don't see that really being something that we would want to mess with.
"It's just too important to those institutions, this region and so forth."
With the impending departure of Nebraska and Colorado, the Big 12 does not plan to stage a football championship game after this season. To fill the void, Beebe has said the league likely will move one or two marquee games to the first Saturday in December.
But not OU-Texas.
"Unless they decide to do something differently, we're going to plan to continue to try to keep those traditions," Beebe said. "Just like Texas and Texas A&M tradition has been moved back to Thanksgiving Day.
"Institutions may change their minds, but I think we're looking at continuing what we've had traditionally in a lot of those relationships."
Beebe also spoke about other issues of conference realignment:
* Expansion. Beebe and Missouri athletic director Mike Alden both said there is no talk of adding schools.
"There's absolutely no interest at this point in looking to expand our membership," Beebe said. "If an institution in this region could bring great value, more value than what we would have to provide to them, was to step up and want to be a part of us, then maybe we'd have to look at it. But right now, there's no affirmative interest by our members in expanding whatsoever."
* Conference championship game. Beebe said there appears to be little support for a title game. The coaches overwhelmingly are against it, and the television networks have agreed to pay the Big 12 the same money even without the championship game.
"It's been a case where we play in the national championship more than any other conference, but we've also had a couple of occasions when we could have played in it an additional time and had the team that was headed for the national championship get beat in our championship game."
Among coaches, only Kansas State's Bill Snyder has expressed support for the game: "You see other conferences now that are moving in that direction that didn't have a championship. I think they see the value of it. I can understand both sides of the discussion, but it's ... been good for Kansas State."
* Scheduling format. Beebe said there is an enthusiasm about a 10-team league which will enable schools to play a full round-robin schedule in football and a double round-robin in basketball.
"There became a lot of excitement ... about having the type of cohesion and familiarity you get with playing everybody every year in football, playing everybody twice a year in basketball," Beebe said. "I think that's going to carry the day for the foreseeable future."
* Colorado's exit. Nebraska is leaving the Big 12 after this school year, but CU's departure hasn't been determined. A Big source said the Buffs basically are negotiating for a smaller exit fee.
"We're in discussions about transition issues," Beebe said. "I know it's Colorado's interest to try to move on along with Utah into the Pac-10. It's our interest to move on. I don't think it helps anybody to linger in a lameduck status."
* Big 12 stability. Beebe said the nature of the Big 12 resolution should keep the schools together.
"I don't think you go through this type of very careful exploration of your future and perhaps consider going to other places and then conclude you're going to be together, and then turn around and do it again in 24 months," Beebe said. "I think there's just so much time, energy, effort, even some difficulty, that that doesn't lend itself to just quickly doing it again."
Beebe admitted he doesn't expect skeptics to believe him. But school officials expressed their commitment to each other. "They said it to all of you," Beebe said. "They said it to us. They said it each other.
"So I'm not sure what else we need to do. I guess we could get all the athletic directors and board members up here and sing Kumbaya, and maybe that would help some of you."
* Name change. Beebe said he detects no movement to change the conference's name but will study the issue between now and next summer.
"I'm in communication with (Big Ten) commissioner Jim Delany about a swap," Beebe joked. The Big Ten soon will have 12 teams and the Big 12 will have 10.