Last June, the Big 12 had all the solidarity of the last days of the Soviet Union. A confederation tied together with baling wire.
This June, the Big 12 is united. Would surprise no one if we caught Big 12 fathers roasting marshmallows at the conference meetings, singing kumbaya.
The 10 remaining Big 12 schools stand arm in arm, extolling their commitment to each other and their desire to let no other school in the league.
The Big 12 this month even voted in equitable revenue-sharing for its new Fox cable contract. If you've got extra icepicks sitting around, mail them to Hell.
“I think it's a good overall sign of health and stability of the Big 12 moving forward,” Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw told me the other day. “It's great to see so much cohesiveness of the conference. What a difference a year makes.”
The remaining 10 adore the new setup. Expansion back to 12 schools is not even on the horizon. “It's a non-issue,” McCaw said.
Not to pick at scabs, but the Big 12 has been all lovey-dovey since Nebraska left. I know the Cornhuskers tried to paint Texas as the troublemaker in the Big 12 firestorm, and it's always fun to throw stones at the Longhorns.
But as soon as Nebraska went out the door, everyone started getting along swimmingly. Even voted in equitable revenue-sharing, which always was a deal-breaker for UT, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Maybe the Huskers were the problem all along.
Oh, you can't get anyone to say that. Commissioner Dan Beebe is the only one still willing to sling arrows at Nebraska. “On the Nebraska point, they never really liked, or at least (athletic director) Tom Osborne never really liked, the Big 12, I don't think,” Beebe told ESPN radio in Austin, Texas, earlier this month.
Osborne's final year coaching Husker football was 1997. He returned to campus in 2007 as athletic director. Less than three years later, Nebraska had left the league.
In an interview with ESPN, Beebe expressed regret for coming down so hard on Osborne, but then reaffirmed his original claim: “From the day that I sat down with him when he became the athletic director, he expressed strong concern about a lot of the things that happened when the Big 12 was formed, even though it was 13 or 14 or 15 years previous.”