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September 9, 2011

B12 in salvage mode as OU contemplates future

EQUAL REVENUE SHARING IN B12? Desperate times call for desperate measures, and eight of the nine remaining members of the Big 12 appear to be in agreement to have equal revenue sharing from the Tier 1 (ABC/ESPN) television contract that runs through 2015-16, multiple sources said.

The move, which is being supported by Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, according to sources, is aimed at trying to hold a beleaguered conference together after a week of intense acrimony.

Messages left for Dodds Friday were not immediately returned.

The Big 12 has never had equal revenue sharing from its Tier 1 television rights in the 16-year history of the conference. In a gesture of unity, the Big 12 agreed in April to equal revenue sharing from its second-tier television rights with Fox upon signing a 13-year, $1.17 billion deal.

Unequal revenue sharing in the Big 12 has long been a complaint among the schools with the smallest athletic budgets in the conference. Currently, the unequal revenue sharing in the Tier 1 rights allows the schools who appear on TV the most to collect the most money.

But that would change under the new proposal, sources said.

The sources said there appears to be consensus among eight of the nine remaining schools in the conference to share Tier 1 revenue equally. Oklahoma has yet to weigh in on the matter, sources said.


TEXAS A&M AND SEC TALK: Texas A&M, meanwhile, remains staunch in its focus on becoming the 13th member of the Southeastern Conference. A&M officials had a conference call with SEC officials Friday at noon to discuss the Aggies' path to the SEC.

"The events of this week have not changed our plans in regards to the Big 12," an A&M official told Orangebloods.com. "Our primary focus is on the SEC at the current time."

Two sources close to A&M said reports of the Aggies considering going independent in 2012 while waiting to join the SEC are not valid because A&M officials haven't even gotten that far yet.


DON'T MESS WITH TXDOT'S SLOGAN: Sources said Friday the Texas Department of Transportation ordered Baylor officials to cease and desist using the "Don't Mess with Texas" slogan in a BU website post that read, "Don't Mess With Texas Football." It was a post that asked fans of football to reach out to Texas A&M, Texas and Texas Tech for "clear-headed thinking."

"Texans must stand up and call the leadership of the University of Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech to clear-headed thinking about the state's future.

"Readers can click the 'Take a Stand Now' button and email regents and decision-makers at Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech."


BU officials complied and had it removed within 30 minutes.


BU TICKETS RETURNED TO A&M: Texas A&M officials said Friday that Baylor had sold only 830 tickets from its allotment of 3,850 for the Oct. 15 A&M-BU game at Kyle Field in College Station.

A&M officials said only Idaho sold less (264) among the seven visiting teams playing at Kyle Field this season.


WHAT'S NEXT? The SEC has indicated it won't budge on admitting Texas A&M until it is released from legal liability by schools in the Big 12.

Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State have indicated they will not release the SEC from such liability. Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have indicated they would not sue the SEC.

Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin has said he feels like A&M "is being held hostage" by certain members of the Big 12.

Two sources close to Texas A&M have said the Aggies' options include delaying their joining the SEC until 2013 and going independent in 2012.

One Big 12 administrator said the SEC would be released from legal liability and Texas A&M would be free to leave the Big 12 after the 2011-12 academic year as long as Oklahoma was willing to recommit to the Big 12. Others in the Big 12 have disputed that contention.

It was one week ago today that OU president David Boren sounded alarms that the Sooners were actively looking at other conference options and raised more questions about the long-term viability of the Big 12.

Boren said OU would have a decision about its future within a window of three days to three weeks. The rest of the conference is still waiting to hear from the Sooners.

Last Friday night Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe held an emergency conference call with the league's presidents - excluding Texas, OU and Texas A&M - extolling those on the call to "work on Texas," sources said.

It was Beebe's belief that the Pac-12 would not invite OU without Texas and that if UT stayed in the Big 12, the Sooners would stay.

While it appears OU has its eye on the Pac-12, there is doubt about if the Pac-12 would be willing to invite the Sooners right now. Commissioner Larry Scott has indicated the Pac-12 won't be the first conference to initiate expansion and possibly trigger mass realignment in college athletics.

Two sources close to the five-member Big 12 expansion committee said they were close to reeling in two schools to replace Texas A&M before Boren's comments shook the foundation of the league.

Those schools are believed to be BYU and Pittsburgh. Louisville was also a school under consideration by the Big 12, sources said.

All three of those schools would stand to enjoy a huge pay raise in TV revenue in the Big 12, where they would stand to make roughly $18 million next year. Schools in the Big East make less than half of that, and BYU received roughly $2 million in TV revenue last year.

But the recent instability in the Big 12 has undoubtedly shaken the view of any potential new members.

Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis tried to do some damage control Thursday when he told reporters OSU was committed to the Big 12. Last Saturday, OSU booster Boone Pickens said he thought the Cowboys would be members of the Pac-12 and didn't think the Big 12 would be around in five years.

"I think (the Big 12) can exist," Hargis told CBSSports.com. "I don't think it's a feat accompli A&M is gone. Obviously the SEC had a string on their bid."

The question is if equal revenue sharing in TV money will instill enough confidence in OU to recommit to the Big 12. Or will it take more?

Stay tuned.



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