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September 19, 2011Texas will make a decision about its future conference home within two weeks, a source close to the situation said Monday.
Texas regents on Monday voted to give UT president Bill Powers the authority to make decisions on behalf of the university when it comes to conference affiliation.
The Longhorns' first option remains holding the Big 12 together with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in it, the source said. The Big 12's TV partners (ABC/ESPN and Fox) are not interested in continuing their current contracts with the Big 12 if Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas are not all in the league, sources said.
After being given the authority by regents to make conference affiliation decisions on behalf of Oklahoma, school president David Boren on Monday expressed concern about the instability of the Big 12.
Boren also said OU has engaged in talks with the Pac-12 that have been "constructive."
Sources close to the situation say Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are totally focused on becoming members of the Pac-12. But there is some question about if those schools would receive a bid without Texas.
A Big 12 administrator said if Texas really wants the Big 12 to survive, the Longhorns should wait things out and see if OU and OSU get bids on their own to the Pac-12. If they don't, Texas could try to convince the Sooners and Cowboys to give the Big 12 one more chance, the administrator said.
"Why would Texas commit to the Pac-12 any sooner than they absolutely have to, if UT really wants the Big 12 to survive," the administrator said. "The Pac-12 isn't going to take OU and Oklahoma State and then get nervous and grab two other schools.
"The Pac-12 would hold open a spot for Texas."
Mack Brown made a passionate plea for the Big 12 to stay together during a conference call with reporters Monday.
A second source confirmed to Orangebloods.com that the Atlantic Coast Conference remains interested in Texas - but without Texas Tech. The source said the ACC would consider a Texas-Kansas or Texas-Missouri combination. But the ACC has real concerns about Texas Tech's academic standing. (Tech was ranked No. 160 in the latest U.S. News and World report rankings of America's top colleges and universities.)
It's doubtful Texas would try to find a conference home without Texas Tech, although a source close to Tech has said the Red Raiders have received some attention from the SEC as a possible partner with Texas A&M.
But the leading option for Texas continues to be the Pac-12, which would include Texas Tech, multiple sources said.
Texas is warming to the Pac-12, sources said, because UT can stay with its rivals - Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tech. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott also appears to have a proposal that would allow Texas to hold onto the revenue from the Longhorn Network as long as schools in what would be the Pac-16 meet a certain threshold of revenue from their third-tier rights.
But it's likely ESPN would give up control of the Longhorn Network in some sort of buyout by the Pac-12, so that programming would be overseen by the conference - to be consistent with the other six regional networks in the Pac-12, sources said. The name would likely also be changed to include reference to the Pac-16.
The Longhorns are busy doing their homework on going west, sources said. And if Texas and Pac-12 presidents like what they hear, the Longhorns could be members of the Pac-12 within two weeks, sources said.