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September 18, 2011
Sources: Texas focusing on 'Pac-16'
3:35 PM - Just landed from Los Angeles and there are a lot of developments to get to.
Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are in talks with the Pac-12, multiple sources tell Orangebloods.com.
A source close to Texas and another one of the four schools says if Texas was to go to the Pac-12 it would be allowed to keep a "modified" version of the network.
Texas would be allowed to keep most, if not all, of its third-tier revenue under a formula being devised as long as the other schools in the Pac-16 meet a certain threshold of revenue, sources said.
As Orangebloods.com reported earlier today, the network would likely be renamed the Pac-16 Texas Network.
The Pac-16 would most likely be divided into four-team pods with Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in one pod; Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah in another pod; Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State in another pod; and USC, UCLA, Cal and Stanford in the other pod, the sources said.
The sources said the schools would play every other school in their pod and then face two other schools from the other pods (with those two teams from the other pod rotating every two years, so there would be home and away games) to form a 9-game conference schedule.
The conference would try to limit long road trips as much as possible, the sources said.
The means of selecting the two teams for the Pac-16 Championship Game are being discussed. Included in those discussions have been simply taking the two teams with the best regular-season records, even if they are from the same pod, the sources said.
Sources said nothing has been finalized as of Sunday afternoon. But a source close to Texas indicated to Orangebloods.com the talks are intensifying.
And as reported by Orangebloods.com on Friday, both Texas and Oklahoma regents on Monday (in separate meetings) are expected to give their presidents the authority to make decisions about conference affiliation.
Texas president president Bill Powers, a Cal graduate, was a leading proponent of going to the Pac-12 a year ago. But Texas decided to try and hold the Big 12 together after it became clear Texas A&M would not follow Texas, Texas Tech, OU and Oklahoma State to the Pac-10 with Colorado.
Texas said in holding the Big 12 together it didn't want to travel its students across two time zones to the west, resulting in student-athletes arriving back on campus in the middle of the night.
But if Texas can hold the Longhorn Network together in a "modified" version, the Pac-12 will end up being the best course of action for UT, the source close to Texas said.
11 AM - A source close to Texas repeated to me today the Pac-12 may now be the Longhorns' top option in terms of finding a new conference home.
The Pac-12 might be willing to accept a "modified" version of the Longhorn Network, the source said.
This development was first reported by Orangebloods.com on Saturday, when the Atlantic Coast Conference began moving in a different direction, according to a Big 12 administrator.
Multiple sources said Texas was banking on ESPN to make a marriage between the ACC and Texas that would allow the Longhorns to keep LHN. But that appears to have failed, the sources said.
Orangebloods.com was the first to report Saturday that the ACC was concerned about how LHN would fit into its revenue sharing; sees itself as an east coast conference and wasn't interested in extending into the southwest (no matter how much TV money adding Texas would mean); and had concerns about the academics of Texas Tech, whom UT would be under pressure politically to bring with them wherever UT went.
UT president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds told people inside the athletic department last week the ACC was Texas' best option if the Big 12 fell apart. Now, Texas is looking at the Pac-12.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told a group of reporters that included Orangebloods.com at the Rose Bowl Saturday the Pac-12 would not be flexibile about third-tier rights revenue sharing. Scott maintains that schools have to share the money equally.
If Texas sought membership in the Pac-12, Scott said LHN "would be an issue." But Scott said his league has a great relationship with ESPN, which owns the rights to LHN and is also a TV partner in the Pac-12 (along with Fox).
The list of options for Texas appears to be down to the Pac-12 or trying - come hell or high water - to hold the Big 12 together.
But a Big 12 without Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M does not excite the TV partners of the Big 12, industry sources have said. In other words, there's no way the Big 12 money stays the same if it's Texas, BYU, Louisville and some combination of Cincinnati, Houston and TCU along with the remaining members of the Big 12.
Also, schools like Missouri and Kansas would have to be convinced to stay in the Big 12 when they have other options, sources said.
DeLoss Dodds has told people who matter that Texas does not want to go independent and does not want to go to the Big Ten. Dodds has said the growth in the United States is south, and the Big Ten is not in the south.
It's not a done deal, but it's looking more and more like the Pac-12 with a modified version of the Longhorn Network, probably renamed as something like the Pac-16 Texas Network.