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September 3, 2011
Source: Longhorn Network can be reworked for Pac-12
A source close to Texas said Saturday the Longhorn Network can be reworked to allow the Longhorns to join the Pac-12, if that's the course Texas officials choose to take.
No schools are allowed to have their own network in the Pac-12, where commissioner Larry Scott has set up a series of regional networks in which two schools pool their third-tier rights and share revenue.
Scott, who attended the Oregon-LSU game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, told reporters Texas would not be allowed to keep the current incarnation of the Longhorn Network in the Pac-12.
Scott went out of his way to tell reporters the Pac-12 has been contacted by schools and has not reached out to any schools or been predatory in any way.
But the source close to Texas told Orangebloods.com the Pac-12 has given the Longhorns an indication LHN could be reworked if Texas wanted to become part of what would be the Pac-16 - along with OU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
The source said if Oklahoma leaves the Big 12 for the Pac-12, Texas would likely follow.
"Leaning that way," the source said.
Last summer, it was Oklahoma saying it would stick with Texas no matter what. This time around, it appears Texas is going to stick with Oklahoma.
Texas lawmakers will have some serious questions for the Longhorns, sources said. Lawmakers said they didn't take an aggressive approach with Texas A&M withdrawing from the Big 12 because they were reassured - in part by Texas - that the Big 12 would survive without A&M.
But the Texas source said OU president David Boren appears to be ready to bolt the Big 12 for the Pac-12, and if that happens, Texas would consider the Big 12 dead and have little choice but to go with OU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to the Pac-12.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told The Associated Press Saturday the Longhorns love the Big 12 and want to stay in it, but Dodds added he'll be watching to see what happens to the conference in the next few days.
Oklahoma president David Boren indicated on Friday the Sooners are actively looking at their options in terms of a conference home.
Reports out of Oklahoma on Saturday indicate the Sooners are now focused solely on a possible future in the Pac-12.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe held a conference call on Friday without Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M's presidents and told the remaining presidents of the Big 12 to "work on Texas."
Beebe said on the call he believes Oklahoma will not get a bid to the Pac-12 unless Texas is part of the deal, sources said. But a source close to the situation told Orangebloods.com Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would be accepted into the Pac-12 if they wanted in.
An industry source with direct knowledge of the Longhorn Network said Texas has not indicated to ESPN, which owns and operates LHN, that it has any plans to go west.
That industry source said reworking the Longhorn Network to accommodate the Pac-12 would be "very difficult" but not impossible.
Meanwhile, there was acrimony all over the Big 12 on Saturday.
Oklahoma State, which has a seat on the five-member, Big 12 expansion committee, appears to be losing faith in the future of the league.
At least that's the opinion of Oklahoma State billionaire booster Boone Pickens, who said Saturday he thinks the Cowboys will end up in the Pac-12 and that the Big 12 won't be around in five years.
Pickens' comments follow those of OU president David Boren, who on Friday referenced an unstable Big 12 and said no one has been more active than the Sooners in exploring their options.
Missouri athletic director Mike Alden told The Associated Press Boren's comments did major damage to any attempt to stabilize the Big 12 after Texas A&M's withdrawal from the conference.
"It's somewhat surprising that comment came out because I know everybody's been working together," Alden told The Associated Press Saturday. "You put something like that out there and it just reinforces that image of being unstable."
Missouri's chancellor Brady Deaton is chairing the Big 12's expansion committee, which also includes Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione and Kansas State's John Currie.
Currie told the AP Saturday his school remains committed to the Big 12.
The only question at the moment appears to be for how long?