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SOURCE: OU ultimately sought Big 12 reform, not Pac-12 move

STAYING PUT – On Monday it appeared Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were headed to the Pac-12. But an OU source said they called Tuesday morning to say they would not apply for membership. The story of why they didn't go is one of what didn't change rather than what did.
BY JENNI CARLSON, Staff Writer, Published: September 21, 2011
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State seemed headed to the Pac-12 on Monday.

By Tuesday night, their westward journey was halted before it got started.

What happened?

A high-ranking source from OU told The Oklahoman on Wednesday that both schools have actually been working behind the scenes to sell Big 12 reform to other schools in the conference.

“But frankly, we wanted the impression out there that we might go to the Pac-12 because that gave us some leverage,” the source said. “We were using that as leverage to say, ‘Hey, you want us to stay? Let's have some of these reforms.'”

Among the changes: removing Dan Beebe as Big 12 commissioner; adopting common rules for individual networks like the Longhorn Network; phasing in revenue sharing from primary television rights; and requiring a commitment of rights of more than five years from conference schools, which would commit all of their game revenues to the Big 12 during that time and make moving to another league difficult to impossible.

Those are the main issues that the Big 12's board of directors will discuss during a meeting Thursday afternoon.

The OU source believes that many of the reforms have the support of enough of the schools' presidents and chancellors to be approved.

The behind-the-scenes lobbying of OU and OSU began gaining traction in recent days. Yet as it did, there was a sense their leverage might be slipping. The OU source said there was a shift in the mood of Pac-12 leaders, largely because Texas was pushing to get special concessions and exemptions for its network.

So, the source said that Tuesday morning, OU and OSU let the Pac-12 know that they wouldn't be applying for membership.

“Really, we kind of hoped that the announcement ... wouldn't come for another day or so,” the source said. “Every day we had gave us a little more leverage to talk about these reforms.”

But the Pac-12 issued a statement Tuesday evening saying it had no intentions to expand.

“They put out their statement because they thought ... Texas was going to stiff them again,” the source said.

When conference realignment talk heated up in the summer of 2010, Texas started the conversation with the Pac-12, meeting with the conference for four or five months, approaching OU and Texas A&M and others about heading west.

Then the Longhorns abruptly ended it, according to the OU source, announcing they weren't going to the Pac-12 before they'd even notified the league's leaders.

“They really felt burned,” the source said.

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