Jenni Carlson: The Oklahoma Plan is so crazy it just might work

by Jenni Carlson Published: September 20, 2011
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> Consensus must be built among Big 12 schools, and that starts with good leadership at the top. I’m not sure I have a bunch of ideas about who could start rebuilding trust and harmony in the conference, but one name pops to mind.

Bill Hancock.

The Oklahoma native is one of the nicest people on the planet and one the most respected people in college athletics, having been the director of the Final Four for many years. His personality and his track record are two of the main reasons that the BCS hired him a few years ago as its first executive director. One of the best guys in the world fronts one of most hated franchises in sports.

Think he might be able to help heal the Big 12?

But even if you brought Saint Bill on board, the conference still needs major philosophical overhaul to survive. That’s where rules about the Longhorn Network come into play. No conference games on a school network. No footage of high school events in any form or fashion. Granted, these regulations are directed at Bevo TV, but with several other schools expressing interest in their own networks, no doubt the rules would apply to all.

Those changes would make everyone in the conference feel like they were on more even footing.

Heck, OU might take that a step further and suggest revenue-sharing from individual networks. Instead of one school keeping all the money it makes from a network, split it up among all the schools.

That might seem extreme, but really, that’s just because it’s such a diversion from what’s been allowed. Texas not being allowed to keep the $300 million it’s been promised? The Longhorns having to share most of it? Crazy.

Or is it?

A year ago, in the buildup to the OU-Texas game, I wrote a profile about longtime Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds. One of his people told me that much of the day-to-day operations of the department were being divided among other staffers so he could focus on the school’s network. It would be his last major contribution to the school. It would be an exclamation mark on his career.

Now, the very network Dodds wanted so badly to create has driven the Big 12 to the verge of collapse. It has severely tarnished the reputation of him and his department.

Making concessions that could maintain the network and might solidify the Big 12 in the process would do wonders for the ill will directed toward everything burnt orange.

I understand that all of these changes are major. A new commissioner? A rewrite of the bylaws? A move toward equality in profit-sharing? A change in some major philosophies in the conference? Those are serious moves. But right now, what OU leaders are suggesting is what the Big 12 needs to stabilize now and stand strong in the future.

Otherwise, you’re just continuing to put bandages on a dead league walking.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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