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Big 12 or Pac-12? OU president David Boren wants to see a result ‘sooner than later'

BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, thaney@opubco.com Published: September 19, 2011
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Sources continue to say the most likely scenario is for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State – and likely Texas and Texas Tech, too – to join the Pac-12 in the not-too-distant future. It could still happen as early as this week.

Without being asked, Boren made sure to include OSU in his plans. That school's board will convene Wednesday, it announced Monday. OSU's regents are expected to grant its president, Burns Hargis, the same authority Boren was given Monday. Boren said he has regularly spoken with Hargis.

“Whatever we do, we're going to do it together,” he said. “I think that's very good news for the state of Oklahoma. It shows the kind of quality of cooperation and unity that strengthens our state.”

Texas remains a different animal in that regard.

“I think we're always stronger when Texas and Oklahoma move together, just like we're stronger when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State work together,” Boren said. “We have different perspectives. I'd put it this way: We're listening with respect to each other, at this point in time. It's too early to tell whether we'll make a common decision or not.”

The Longhorns have had discussions with the Pac-12, multiple sources from both leagues have said, but there is some distance between the parties because of the Longhorn Network and how it would fit into the expanded league.

The 'Horns want to compromise as little as possible on their TV deal, in the first year of a $300 million contract with ESPN. And the Pac-12 does not want a TV network that creates animosity or an unfair advantage in any way, relative to other league members. It is believed Texas' network would have to fold neatly into the Pac-12's current structure of state-by-state regional networks.

The Longhorn Network, in that scenario, would also incorporate Texas Tech programming. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's theoretical network would likewise have joint programming. Boren made mention of progress toward OU's own network.

Texas or no Texas, Boren vowed to move forward.

“We're absolutely committed to doing what's best for the University of Oklahoma,” he said. “Working with Oklahoma State University, we're both committed to doing what's best, we think, for our two institutions and the state. But we're not going to cede our sovereignty in this question to anybody else, to any university in any other state.”

Boren concluded his interview session by remembering a conversation with Margaret Thatcher.

“I said, ‘What have you learned most from your experiences in life?'” Boren said. “She said, ‘Always expect the unexpected.'

“Beyond that, I don't know. If I knew the answer of what we were going to do, I would reveal it.”