The Big 12 Conference has been very, very good for the University of Texas. Texas has been even better for the Big 12. As collegiate sports’ musical chairs start circling again, with the Big Ten considering expansion and the Pac-10 rumbling about the same, know this: As long as the Big 12 has Texas, the conference is fine.
Missouri can go to the Big Ten. Colorado can go to the Pac-10. But if Texas remains, the Big 12 is stable. As long as you’ve got the engine, you can pick up spare tires along the way. And the engineer, Longhorn athletic director DeLoss Dodds, says UT is happy with the Big 12. Dodds said the Big 12 has worked "probably better” than he hoped when he and then-Oklahoma athletic director Donnie Duncan put the league together 15 years ago. "It’s been good to us and for us,” Dodds said. "Geographically, it works. It works politically, and it has to work politically. It works competitively. It’s worked financially. "I don’t think we need 100 years of tradition to have a great thing.” I believe Dodds, for two reasons. 1. Physical evidence. Texas athletics never have been better. Longhorn football has reached the Darrell Royal level of 40 years ago. Longhorn basketball is better than it’s ever been. 2. Dodds is a man of his word. Believe coaches and politicians at your own risk. But sometimes you come across a man you can trust. "DeLoss Dodds shoots perfectly straight, not now and then, but every time,” said Duncan. The Pac-10 tried to entice Texas back in the mid-’90s and no doubt would want the Longhorns again. The Big Ten, if it decided to forget geography and instead look to add the most prestigious school, could call. Dodds said Texas — or any other Big 12 school — being sought by other leagues is not a bad thing. "That’s a good thing, that people are wanting what we have,” Dodds said. Dodds said UT is married to the Big 12 and that won’t change "unless something drastic happens.” Sure, that’s a statement with a qualifier. But remember, this is a straight shooter. "Something drastic” would have to be a fundamental change on the collegiate landscape. Not a Colorado leaving the Big 12. Not even a Missouri and Colorado leaving. Not the Big Ten expanding to the East Coast, which is what most observers think that league will do, trying to secure the New York market for its blossoming cable television network. "Drastic” could mean a change in the Big 12 revenue-distribution formula, which always has favored the more TV-popular schools and a subject that we’ll discuss further in the Monday Oklahoman.