That's a powerful draw, and one that has to worry the rest of the Big 12. Not that the likes of Texas Tech and Oklahoma State and Kansas can do much about it.
Could the anxiety over the Texas Network lead to a Big 12 breakup? Only if led by A&M or OU.
The Aggies are volatile. Capable of anything, including standing up to Texas if only out of spite.
The Sooners are more stable, and athletic director Joe Castiglione stands firmly with the Big 12. But others in power on campus are less committed; many still regret that OU and others did not jump to the Pac-10 last summer. No one in authority at OU wants any part of the SEC culture, but the Pac-10 remains a popular idea among people that matter in Norman.
The Texas Network muddles the Longhorns' Pac-10 interest. UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds has said the possibility of starting his own network helped keep the 'Horns in the Big 12, and the Pac-10 has since voted to market its “third-tier rights” (the new phrase for the kind of events headed for the Texas Network) collectively.
But a Big 12 source told me last summer that the Pac-10 was willing to let Texas establish its own network. And some have said the proposed Pac-10 Network will be a tough sell. So who knows?
The Big 12 brass, fighting for its life, soon will negotiate a new cable television contract — its deal with Fox ends after the 2011 season — and one stipulation could be that any individual school's television rights stay with the league, even if that school jumps the conference.
Great if you can get it, but that's one more reason for trepidation at OU and A&M and even Texas.
The truth about the Big 12 survival of last summer is that no one really knew for sure how long the revamped league would last. Now the Texas Network provides even less reason for optimism.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.