My belief is that a sizeable portion of the Big 12 (likely the six mentioned this week -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Colorado) will go to the Pac-10. The Pac-10 makes more sense from a competitive standpoint, an economic standpoint (similar budgets), and the geography is not that out of whack when you consider a division of those six schools with Arizona and Arizona State. Texas also prefers the academic reputation of the schools in the Pac-10 such as Cal, Stanford, USC and UCLA. Look for Nebraska and Missouri to make good on their long threat to go to the Big 10. They will get invited and Kansas would have an outside shot at an invite. Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State, and likely Kansas get left out looking for a lesser league or independent status (Kansas only as an independent).
Why is this happening?
A lot of reasons and let's start with an age old one, jealousy. Texas rules the Big 12 Conference and has from the beginning. They have the biggest following, the most money, the most influence, the most of nearly everything. DeLoss Dodds is a founding father. When he said last week, paraphrasing, we didn't start this but if we have to, we will finish it, Dodds meant it and he can do it and will. The revenue distribution of half equal and half by number of appearances and of what quality is another reason. Do you ever hear Baylor complain about the revenue split? No, because they know all too well that they are in this Big 12 by the grace of Texas and the political pull of the governor at the time of the league's forming, Baylor graduate Ann Richards. Egos are another reason for the split. There is lots of power and there are lots of schools that want power. Dan Beebe is a nice guy, a good assistant commissioner and maybe in a lesser league a good commissioner, but this was too powerful a group for him to manage. To be fair, very few adminstrators could have likely kept this conglomeration from splitting at the seams. Then there is money and with the West Coast and the television markets there, Phoenix, Denver, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and interest really everywhere west of the Mississippi a Pac-10/Big 12 combo cable network would make bukoo dollars.
Could the Big 12 survive?
Sure it could but it won't and for the reasons above. I am a firm believer that there is irrepairable damage done and I don't think this week helped at all. In fact, I think more damage may have been done in Kansas City. Make no mistake, keeping this league together is always my first and top choice. I love the schools and the history and tradition of the Big Eight and now the Big 12, but there are participants that don't love it as much as you and I.
When will this all happen?
You may have heard that Dan Beebe issued a (secret) deadline for schools to let him know they are on board for the future. I think it is all happening right now. I think Chip Brown's story was not only accurate but I think it was on time and for a reason. Most of what is happening right now is behind the scenes, but I think before the start of the 2010 football season in September that we will hear official proclamations on where schools are heading.
Why is Oklahoma State in a good position?
Thanks be to Mike Holder, absolutely to T. Boone Pickens and other boosters, and also to the originator of improving OSU facilities, Terry Don Phillips. Add Harry Birdwell and all of the presidents of the University, especially current President Burns Hargis, as they all have greatly aided Oklahoma State in being in this position. If Oklahoma State was where they were 10 to 12 years ago then OSU is on the outside looking in. It simply would not have happened. The Cowboys would be looking at a future of playing Tulsa as their chief rival. Thank Holder for recognizing the power base in the Big 12 and rather than fighting it aggressively being an ally that discusses rather than makes ultimatums. Texas likes Oklahoma State and that is a good thing. The Cowboys overall success in those 49 and maybe soon one more national championships look very good and they are respected by the Pac-10 which already has one through three in order of schools with national championships won. Oklahoma State would make that one through four.
What happens to OSU if Texas does something different?
The Cowboys and Longhorns aren't tied at the hip, not as close as the Horns are to their rival Texas A&M Aggies. Oklahoma State might have a chance to go elsewhere with Texas but likely the Cowboys end up as part of the Pac-10 regardless. The SEC would be tough to navigate and have a lot of success in football. Again, more sensible budgets and don't forget the positives of the television markets, potential revenue, picking up a recruiting base in California. Those are all good reasons to look west.
What happens to the four schools left out?
Likely Baylor will join in a league of Texas private schools or they could be ideal for an expanded Conference USA. I already said Kansas could end up in the Big 10 or a hodge podge of Big East and ACC schools as those conferences are also in danger of being gobbled up by the impending expansion to the four 16-school super football conferences. Kansas State and Iowa State would be left out there for the Mountain West, WAC, something like that, or an expansion league of schools left out. I hate it. Iowa State could also be a potential Big 10 team. I'd love that. Stadium size, football prowess, and television revenue are the major factors here. Kansas State is a school that a few years ago would have been on the other side. Bill Snyder had built a power and their facitilities were better than most. But then Kansas State hired Ron Prince, who basically dismantled in a few short years what Snyder had built and now Snyder is trying to build it back but the timing was awful with regard to conference realignment.