NORMAN — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was in Arlington, Texas, on Saturday night for the Oregon-LSU game.
Prime opportunity for OU officials to meet with the head of the conference they are considering joining. But an OU source said Saturday there were no plans for Scott to meet with the Sooners.
Not because something has gone wrong, but because something went right.
“I don't think anybody needs to go” meet with Scott, the source said, indicating the Pac-12 has become the Sooners' sole focus.
The Pac-12 preference is to add four schools – OU, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech.
The OU source said Scott hopes to meet with University of Texas president William Powers over the weekend.
OU president David Boren stepped out of a cloak of secrecy Friday and said the Sooners were being proactive in deciding their conference future, had interest from multiple conferences and expected to make a decision soon, from 72 hours to two weeks.
“We're at the sensitive point of discussions among schools,” Boren said.
In Columbia, Mo., on Saturday, Missouri athletic director Mike Alden admitted Boren's comments were sobering to those who want to keep the Big 12 together.
"It's somewhat surprising that comment came out because I know everybody's been working together," Alden said. "You put something like that out there and it just reinforces that image of being unstable. How do you recover from that? I don't know."
Friday, orangebloods.com reported that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe convened a conference call of Big 12 presidents -- excluding Boren, Texas' William Powers and Texas A&M's R. Bowen Loftin -- and urged them to petition Texas to remain with the league.
OSU president Burns Hargis issued a statement Saturday that seemed to say the Cowboys would do whatever the Sooners do.
“We are in close communications with our colleagues at the University of Oklahoma and expect a decision soon that will be in the best interest of our institutions and the state of Oklahoma,” Hargis said.
Another highly-placed OSU source said of the Pac-12, “I think probably the way it's going to go. OU and OSU have to stick together.”
The Pac-12 sales job shifts now to Texas, and sources indicated that the Longhorns have warmed to the idea, even though some compromise would be in order, since the Pac-12 has announced plans for a conference network and UT has its own Longhorn Network that has caused such consternation in the Big 12.
“Given what the Pac-12 has announced, there's a place for the Pac-12 and Texas to keep their network,” an OU source said.
The Sooners prefer going to the Pac-12 with three other Big 12 schools, preferably OSU and the two Texas schools. That would keep OU's Texas recruiting ties strong and would help minimize travel.
The Pac-12 last year formed the plan of two divisions, with the four Big 12 schools in an east division with Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
If Texas rejects the Pac-12, the backup plan is unknown. But both Texas and the Pac-12 have limited options.
“If the Pac-12 really wants to move (expand), you realize, where else are they going to go?” the OU source said, referring to Big 12 schools.
“Oklahoma is in a very, very strong position. Oklahoma brings enormous value for any group with which it would associate.”
OU football coach Bob Stoops expressed excitement about the Pac-12 both last summer and a few days ago. Boren, too, has been intrigued about the Pac-12 option.
Boren flew to College Station, Texas, last Sunday in an attempt to convince Texas A&M to remain in the Big 12. But the Aggies announced they were seeking membership elsewhere (the SEC), and OU began aggressively considering its options.
Various sources have said Notre Dame, Arkansas and Pittsburgh have rejected Big 12 inquiries, and that the Big 12 options of Brigham Young, TCU and Air Force don't excite OU.
“We obviously want stability in our conference relationships,” Boren said, expressing regret that Nebraska and Colorado left the Big 12 in June 2010. “We want partners that are outstanding, both athletically and academically. A conference that's strong is not only stable, but it's one in which there are multiple relationships, along with sports, between university members.”
Hargis, too, expressed regret at the Big 12's current state.
“We want to be clear that we worked actively to encourage Texas A&M to remain in the Big 12 Conference and regret they decided to leave,” Hargis said. “We are moving ahead.
“Oklahoma State University's athletic program has never been stronger from top to bottom, putting us in a position to explore and pursue options, including the possible expansion of our current conference.”