Asked Monday about the Longhorn Network, Oklahoma president David Boren made it clear he still does not think Texas' own TV channel makes for fairness – in the Big 12 or any other league.
Boren made the comments following an OU Board of Regents meeting in which he was given authority to make a decision about whether to stay in the Big 12 or join an expanded Pac-12 that could include Texas.
“Whatever conference we join, or whatever conference we stay in – those are obviously the two major options – the University of Oklahoma has no ambition to dominate any conference,” Boren said after being asked about the network. “We simply have the ambition of being a member, an equal member, of any conference, playing by the same rules, by having a level playing field for all the members of that conference and developing a high level of trust in each other. That's our goal. That's what we're after.”
Boren again echoed concerns from Sooners coach Bob Stoops about a perceived recruiting advantage, if high school games or highlights are allowed to be shown on the Longhorn Network.
“You can play highlights and your highlights just might happen to focus on some of those players who were your top recruits,” he said. “Now, is that a level playing field on recruiting? I don't think so. We're for a level playing field. We want to see a conference in which all the members play an equal role.”
BOREN: LEGAL THREATS CREATE UNSTABLE BIG 12
Part of the board meeting's executive session focused on the possibility of litigation, should OU choose to move to the Pac-12.
Although Baylor was not mentioned by name, it made the most noise about potential legal action as Texas A&M neared an agreement to join the SEC. The tone of Baylor and a couple of other Big 12 schools has at least stalled the process, the SEC has said. That league does not want legal entanglements in adding a new member or members.
“I don't think you build trust and I don't think you build stability in a conference by the threat of litigation,” Boren said without mentioning BU and its president, Ken Starr. “If it takes the threat of litigation to keep a conference together, that's not the right way to proceed. Stability is based upon trust. It's also based on partnership.
“I frankly do not think that it helps the cause of conference stability when any university threatens lawsuits, in order to try and maintain it.”
SUPERCONFERENCES ARE COMPLICATED, BUT MANAGEABLE
Boren acknowledged a 16-team league would be more complex – especially compared with the olden days of the Big 8. But he said there are ways to “minimize” the difficulty, including the reported notion of geography-friendly four-team pods.
“Instead of two (divisions), if you create pods of four teams each,” he said, “you can work out a schedule where travel can be minimized and you would play within the pod that geographically was close to you.”
Boren also admitted the desire to join a 16-team league is based on the fact that, well, everyone else is probably going to do it.
“Is conference consolidation moving in an inevitable direction?” he said. “If it is, we have to keep that in mind, as well. That's something we have to weigh.
“Is it? I don't know. We've watched closely what's happened with Pittsburgh and Syracuse (to the ACC) in the last few days. We're seeing what's happening nationally. Obviously, the SEC will be expanding if A&M continues to go to the SEC. That's something else we have to think about.”
SOONERS PROCEEDING WITH ITS OWN TV PLANS
OU is still moving forward with plans to have its own TV network, which Boren said would be both lucrative and play by the rules with respects to peers. Both thoughts seemed to carry intent with regard to UT.
“I would say the level of interest of those who would like to be partners, media partners in our network, has gone up considerably – even over the past few weeks,” he said. “There are a number of financial opportunities for the University of Oklahoma, too. The important thing is, if we have a network of our own, we want to run that network in a way that doesn't seek to advantage us over other members, particularly in recruiting and other areas like that.”