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September 20, 2011

The Big 12 lives after Pac-12 says no to expansion

MIDNIGHT - I've been told Texas and Oklahoma officials will get together in the next week to iron out differences and pledge to at least a five-year commitment in the Big 12.

There will be a sense of urgency to add one school and possibly more to the Big 12, sources said.

Here is Oklahoma president David Boren's statement on the night's events, including the Pac-12's announcement not to expand:


"We were not surprised by the Pac 12's decision to not expand at this time. Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the conference and we have kept them informed of the progress wehave been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable in the future. Conference stability has been our first goal and we look forward to achieving that goal through continued membership in the Big 12 Conference."


11:30 PM - The Big 12 is Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction" - rising up out of the bathtub.

Multiple sources confirm to Orangebloods.com that the Pac-12 notified key members of the Big 12 early Tuesday that it would not expand, causing the nine remaining members of the Big 12 to begin working feverishly to iron out differences.

No one expects Texas A&M to remain in the Big 12. A&M officials declared again Tuesday they plan leaving the Big 12 after this season (for the Southeastern Conference).

One of the first steps the nine-member Big 12 took was to notify Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe the league members want a change in leadership, sources said.

Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton led the charge on Tuesday after the Pac-12 notified Oklahoma that its members would not accept OU and Oklahoma State without Texas, sources said.

The Longhorns, who had been hoping the Big 12 could stay alive from the beginning, got the news early Tuesday from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott that he didn't have the votes to expand.

Sources told Orangebloods.com at least six Pac-12 presidents opposed further expansion, and Larry Scott needed nine of 12 votes to approve any new additions.

Sources say Texas and Oklahoma must work out their differences, including Texas possibly making some concessions on Longhorn Network content (such as no high school highlights and possibly no conference games). Texas might even need to share some revenue from its Longhorn Network with the Sooners, sources said.

Sources said after it became clear the Pac-12 didn't have the votes to admit Oklahoma and Oklahoma State without Texas, Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus contacted UT regents and urged them not leave the Big 12 for the Pac-12.

Texas officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment Tuesday night.

There will obviously be much more to come on this one.

Stay tuned.


10:23 PM - The game has changed folks.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has just released a statement saying that league has no plans to expand. The Big 12 got a breath of life tonight.

Here is the official release just sent to me.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif.-- In light of the widespread speculation about potential scenarios for Conference re-alignment, the Pac-12 Presidents and Chancellors have affirmed their decision to remain a 12-team conference. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said, gafter careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference. While we have great respect for all of the institutions that have contacted us, and certain expansion proposals were financially attractive, we have a strong conference structure and culture of equality that we are committed to preserve. With new landmark TV agreements and plans to launch our innovative television networks, we are going to focus solely on these great assets, our strong heritage and the bright future in front of us.h


3:45 PM -There is a serious effort being made, led by Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton, to try to save the Big 12, according to a high-placed administrator at a Big 12 school.

It will either be the Big 12's Hail Mary or its last gasp.

The administrator said Deaton, the head of the Big 12's five-member expansion committee, is trying to get everyone back to the table to try to see if the Big 12 can work out its differences.

A regent at another Big 12 school said he he was optimistic the conference could heal its problems.

Oklahoma State mega booster Boone Pickens was quoted by The Oklahoman saying Pickens had called Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a former yell leader at A&M, to try and fix the Big 12.

But Texas A&M spokesman Jason Cook said, "Texas A&M has made our intentions perfectly clear. We do not intend to be a member of the Big 12 past this season."

The question then becomes if Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State can live together in a nine-member Big 12?

And The Oklahoman quotes an unnamed, high-ranking Big 12 source as saying Oklahoma has a list of demands to hold the Big 12 together, including replacing commissioner Dan Beebe and for Texas to make some concessions as it pertains to the Longhorn Network.

The newspaper quotes sources saying OU was angered by ESPN getting a waiver from Fox to show a second game on the Longhorn Network and surprising the rest of the conference with the news.

The sources also tell the Oklahoman OU was upset when ESPN vowed to show high school highlights even after it was deemed impermissible by the NCAA to show high school games on LHN.

In general, the sources tell The Oklahoman, the Big 12 has a big trust problem that has to be rectified.

The Oklahoman also quotes a source saying Dan Beebe only serves one school - Texas.

The newspaper reports, ironically, Texas supported Jack Swarbrick as commissioner of the Big 12 and OU supported Beebe when Beebe was awarded the job as leader of the Big 12. Swarbrick is now the athletic director at Notre Dame.

Sources across the Big 12 confirm to Orangebloods.com that there is definitely a movement to try to save the Big 12 led by Deaton that may involve some radical proposals.

We will have more details as they become available.

A high-ranking official at a Big 12 school said, "The Big 12 is going to stay intact except for Texas A&M."

We will see if that's wishful thinking and the Big 12's Hail Mary - one year after a similar rescue attempt was successful - or if it's the Big 12's last gasp.

Stay tuned.


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