Published Wednesday, August 31, 2011 AT 3:55 PM / Updated at 5:22 PM
Your move, Oklahoma
Tom Shatel Omaha World-Herald

The Big 12 needs a new commissioner. DeLoss Dodds ain’t getting it done.

Texas A&M’s announcement that it’s leaving the conference is a big-time blow to the league’s image. Three quality schools, including two football heavyweights, have left. What now for the Big 12?

It’s all up to Oklahoma. The Sooners have the power now to pull the plug or keep the league in stable condition for the short-term.

What are the options?

A) Stay in a 10-team league with the addition of Brigham Young. That’s the logical one. Forget Notre Dame or Arkansas. I’m skeptical that Pitt would leave the Big East, and its coveted affiliation with Big East hoops, to come play in Lubbock and Waco and Ames and Manhattan, etc., etc. What’s the point? What’s the advantage?

The Big 12 will have to settle for someone who wants an upgrade, meaning someone in a mid-major conference. Why would anyone leave a BCS league to join the Big 12 chaos?

BYU probably would, though it’s not certain. The Cougars just went independent. But the Big 12 would offer a BCS bid. BYU wouldn’t care about Texas’ antics. BYU can be high maintenance, too.

I don’t think TCU, Houston or SMU will get a look. The other Texas schools, namely Texas, aren’t in a hurry to invite other in-state schools to the party. Texas left the old SWC for a reason. Why go back to it?

To me, BYU is a solid choice, but it doesn’t make the Big 12 better. BYU is not a national brand in college football. It doesn’t raise the bar or the TV needle. It just keeps things in place. Which isn’t a bad thing if you’re Iowa State or Kansas.

If I were Oklahoma, I would think hard about option:

B) Go to the Pac-12. Take Oklahoma State. Pac-12 commish Larry Scott has plans to make the Pac-12 network into regional networks, which means the Sooners would automatically have a Pac-12/Oklahoma network (along with OSU). OU football coach Bob Stoops is still being quoted as being in favor of the move, the trips, the west coast recruiting, etc.

The key here is to make sure Texas comes along. Or, make sure Texas would still play Oklahoma. The Sooners’ tie to the Longhorns isn’t love or devotion. It’s the need for a recruiting presence in Texas, which has been the lifeblood of the OU program for decades.

Yes, because of those regional Pac-12 networks, Texas would be allowed to have a network. But it would be regional, not national. Would Texas give that up?

Do the Longhorns want to be independent? Will OU call that bluff?

The question now is has Texas pushed too far, and pushed the Sooners to a point where they want to get away?

The flip side is, OU wins the Big 12 most every year, and why would you want to get away from that? BYU wouldn’t change that.

The saga is heating up again. Nobody knows what Texas’ end game is here. We may be about to find out.

About Tom Shatel

Tom Shatel is a columnist for The Omaha World-Herald. You can get in touch with Tom on Twitter (@tomshatelOWH), or send him an email at


  1. Donigan says:

    OU has a great hand to play here. If the Big 12-3 manages to stay together they have a conference that’s easier to win and still leads to the BCS Championship game. If it crumbles, they won’t be left out in the cold. The SEC and the PAC would both be interested. They will be just fine. Iowa State and Kansas State are teams that should be worried.

    1. CB Husker says:

      Maybe the ISU, KU, KSU should thank OU for delaying thier decision. Gives those schools a chance to start shopping for a soft landing spot – hopefully still within the BCS leagues. Any other team not named Texas in the current Big 12-3 should be looking at options (now) or risk being left in the dark. OU may be the only one with a guaranteed spot.

  2. W. Wright says:

    I think TCU, Houston and SMU should be asked if they are interested, in that order. BYU just went indy, and joined the WCC in all the other sports. So, I can’t seem them changing their minds so quick.

    1. CB Husker says:

      Unless they go for a big splash the Big 12-3 days are numbered. SMU or Houston don’t cut the mustard. TCU or ND would be a homerun. BYU or Boise would at least get on base. Anything else moves them closer to the ACC / Big East level of relevance. One more defection and it’s ‘stick a fork in it’.

  3. Observer says:

    While it might make sense for BYU to join the Big 12 for purely football reasons, BYU will stay independent. Why? BYU left the Mountain West not for football reasons, but for religious reasons. BYU wants to be independent so that the Cougars can put all their football games on the BYU Network. They want to drive network viewership up, but not exactly for the same reasons that the Longhorn Network and the Big Ten Network do. BYU and the BYU Network are trying to convert people to Mormonism.

    To that end, BYU will not tolerate any conference interference with their plans to grow their television network.

    1. Dotbo says:

      I don’t think the Big 12 would interfere with those plans. They certainly haven’t interfered with Texas’ plans. If BYU negotiates a decent deal at entrance, they could be AOK.

  4. kevin says:

    Tom I can tell you why Ut might want to join back up with SMU /HOUSTON /TCU… They might not have another choice ! who wants UT…..besides UT ? They’ve now destroyed two conferences. Whatever conference would take them better be ready to sleep with one eye open. As for OU..As much as I respect them, they could’ve been in NU corner on some of the issues NU had with UT, but they elected to side with UT…. How’s that working for them now !

    1. Josh the Skeptic says:

      It’s worked out fine for them, obviously. They didn’t care about Nebraska, and they got Texas in bed with them which is what they really wanted. They are not a lap dog like so many suggest, but the wife that runs the house. Oklahoma loves being in bed with Texas and now that they’ve both gotten rid of their other dalliances I see their commitment to one another only growing stronger.

      1. capnamerca says:

        “It’s worked out fine for them, obviously” ? Obviously you don’t distinguish between the current situation and the past.

        “They are not a lap dog like so many suggest, but the wife that runs the house” That’s why Texas tried to use the UTN to broadcast HS games in Texas, obviously a slap to the face of “the wife that runs the house? LOL

        “I see their commitment to one another only growing stronger”. Time will tel on that, but Texas is determined to be the undisputed master of the NCAAFB universe, irregardless of who they have to run over. I don’t see OU laying down for them much longer. The league is doomed to failure, and the smart players will be looking for a place to land before there isn’t one.

      2. HuskerJayz says:

        That they didn’t care about Nebraska is the fatal flaw. NU was the catalyst and following its departure and now A&M, Texas has little room for error and has placed too much faith on OK commitment to TX recruits. TX thought the Hukers would lose interest from TX recruits… it hasn’t happened. OU sees that. If Texas has one more year like last year, ESPN will start looking for ways to cut the cord on that television partnership and Texas recruits will be happy to play in the SEC, PAC-14, BIG-10. That’s what Oklahoma is banking on.

  5. Paul says:

    BYU would be a good fit for the Big 12. You’re right, they’re not a national brand in football, but they do have a national championship to boast of, and could become one if given the chance to compete in a BCS conference. The school itself is a national brand since members of the LDS faith reside all over the country and the world. Like Texas, BYU has lots of money and its own TV network. One situation that might make administrators balk at inviting the Cougars is the age difference between BYU athletes and those they’ compete against. Many BYU student athletes go on a two-year mission sometime between their freshman and junior years, and since the NCAA allows them to come back to school with the same amount of eligibility they had when they left, often, BYU’s seniors are 23 or 24 years old, and competing against guys two years younger.

    1. Dallas husker says:

      BYU National championship … B.S. They beat an 8 – 4 Michigan team in the Holiday Bowl. There were a dozen teams that would have beaten the Hell out of them in a bowl that year.

      As much as I am happy to see the Big 12 implode…including a bunch that believes squirls led a huckster to gold plates and started the “true faith” is equally goofy.

      1. Husker in CO says:

        You failed to mention that BYU doesn’t fit real well with the Big 12 due to academic standards. BYU has far higher standards and admission requirements than any school in the Big12. BYU has the best mobile broadcasting capabilities of any school in the country–actually better than most networks and does have a huge national following. It’s the other sports that would be concerning–oh wait, they’ve been top 20 in hoops that last couple of years, won the men’s volleyball championship, men’s rugby, and finished in the top 20 in football.. The NCAA doesn’t have a special rule for BYU–any player can leave school for however many years they want and come back and play–how do you think guys go play major/minor league baseball and then come back to play college football? You might even recall a recent decent LDS athlete for the huskers–Stewart Bradley. Clearly a goofy person.. Take your bigotry elsewhere..

        1. Paul says:

          Actually, that rule is special for BYU and their missionaries. Once a student enrolls full-time, he or she has ten semesters to complete four seasons of eligibility. The typical guy plays professional baseball, then comes back and plays football was normally never enrolled in college full time until he began his football playing. So yes, it is a special rule for LDS missionaries.

          1. Scott says:

            They have five years to complete four years of eligibility. The clock starts right away and if they leave then the clock keeps on ticking. Ten semesters applies to Division 2

  6. m l green says:

    BYU absolutely goes to the Big IX if invited. The Cougars have wanted a spot in the Pac12 since it was the Pac8. Prediction: BYU to the Big IX; TX, OU, OSU, BYU eventually to the PAC12/16 when the super-conferences emerge.

  7. Ross says:

    Kevin, I think you are nailing this one. UT has destroyed 2 conferences. Larry Scott invited UT once to the dance and received a decline to attend. If I were Larry Scott, I would not invite any remaining Big 12 teams. Why put up with the possible whining and Texas politics that could disrupt the newly formed PAC 12 conference?

    In addition, Kevin, I want to mention that I am a big Colorado fan. Despite our recent rivalry, the Colorado fans have always resected Nebraska’s knowledge of the best sport in America. In my humble opinion, I think that you will find many Colorado fans rooting for Nebraska in the Big 10.

    This is another issue, but do you regret that the Big 8 became the Big 12?


    1. NEHSKR says:

      Many good points to consider, but I have family in Denver and they will not root for Nebraska even now.. As far as the question of do I regret joining the Big12? No, not at all. I have met many good people from Texas A&M and Baylor that would not have happened if it were not to be. I am glad we (Colorado and Nebraska) made our dismissal from that conference and look forward to watching some good sporting events to come.. Including Football, Volleyball, and the rest.. Good Luck to the Aggies and I will always cheer for them in their new home no matter where it is.. As they say down in Aggieland, GIG ‘Em Aggies!!

    2. Dotbo says:


      1. J says:

        I was a freshman in high school when Texas and her three ugly sisters joined the Big 8. I was too young then to really understand the baggage that she came with. For the past 12 years or so I’ve come to understand much more about the Texas Tornado. Mother of God!! She’s an F5 wreaking havoc on the plains. Sad. Though I couldn’t appreciate what losing the Big 8 meant back then, I certainly do now. I’ll miss playing Colorado, OU, and the rest of the old Big 8. Good luck in the Pac 12 this year. I certainly hope you guys are able to turn the left coast on its head.

    3. kevin says:

      Miss the big 8 ? not really can’t look back. What really hurts is when NU spoke 10 other schools in the conference backed up UT. I’m sure NU thought that OU would support them, but they didn’t. I truly hope the Big X12.er11..er10..er9 ends. I also truly hope UT doesn’t get to join the Pac12, but from what I read today it appears UT will again try a conference. I don’t know about you, but I’d always be a little worried about marrying a women who cheated twice before ( SWC, Big XII)

    4. Michael F says:

      Actually they destroyed 3 conferences. The SWC, the Big 8 and the Big 12. From Nebraska’s point of view it was a mistake getting involved with them in the first place.

  8. Husker Dude says:

    Uh… Ross. It was never a rivalry.

    1. HuskerJayz says:

      Dude. You must have missed a few games while growing-up… Just because NU owned most of the North during the 90′s and CU experienced down years during our Callahan era (which is when they should’ve owned us)… It was still a rivalry. Wish all CU fans were as clear thinking as Ross.

    2. ACHIILLES says:

      AGREED…for a rivalry to exist, there MUST BE 2 THINGS. 1) Both teams need to agree it is a rivalry. One cannot just point to someone and say ‘you are now our rival because we say so’. 2) There MUST BE HISTORY. History of close games played over a period of time, with legendary players and coaches. The OU/Nebraska became that rivalry because it was the last game of the season and usually both teams were undefeated, ranked, and the winnner won the BIG8 Conference and went to the Orange Bowl. This added to the hype, build up, and importance of that game. Iowa fans are falling into this same myth that they can just point to Nebraska and say ‘this is our rivalry game and Nebraska is now our rival’… NO, it MUST develop over time.

    3. J says:

      Let me ask you a question. Did you hate losing to CU more than any other school save Missouri? Then it was a rivalry just as Missouri was a rivalry. The Huskers should have blown Colorado out the last few years but couldn’t. This has every bit to do with the fact that it was an emotional game. Colorado played us that much harder and we played them with anger. Anger doesn’t always mean better play. You make mistakes when you’re mad. It was never the same as the rivalry with OU but it was a rivalry none the less.

  9. Bradley says:

    Being a long time Husker fan residing in CO (CFN) give a unique view of the CU/UN matchup. No, the CU/UN game was never a rivalry game for the Huskers, but the Buffs perceived it from a different prespective. Coach Mac made sure that it was their Red Out game of each season. I know many Buff fans and realize that, yes they do respect NE for the marque program that they strive to emulate. If you recall, when CO found out that UN was heading out of the screwed up (yes, this reference is to you UT) Big 12, they made haste to assure that they would not be in the conference even one more year.

    Being a long time Husker fan also has implications toward our most revered rival; the Sooners. Regardless of what happens in the Big 12-3, I know that they will land on their feet simply because of the fact that they are OU. Frankly, I’m also somewhat surprised that OU sides with UT over UN. However, I also believe that the Sooners are looking elsewhere at this juncture and unlike A&M they are keeping quiet until the fat lady sings. I’d love to see OU & Notre Dame join the BIG conference. That would put history alongside legends bring 6 of the top 10 all time winningest institutions to the same great oldest conference…….and as a sideline would set the table for renewing what is argueably collegiate footballs best rivarly! Either way Sooners your Husker faithful wish you the best!

  10. Stan says:

    Hey.. one more goes and they’re back to the Big Eight!

  11. Matthew says:

    “BYU is not a national brand in college football. It doesn’t raise the bar or the TV needle”

    Are you serious?

    BYU benefits from its affiliation with the Mormon Church in a way few universities can compare to, in terms of national following and TV interest. Besides the fact that BYU has a larger student body (and more alumni) than nearly any school in the Big12, those alumni meet weekly with the most of the six million Mormons in the US who largely feel a degree of devotion to the school regardless of where they went to college. They live all around the country and bring a nationwide viewership well beyond that of Texas A&M, as well as Kansas, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, etc. Texas and Oklahoma are the only two noteworthy schools left in the conference who match or exceed BYU’s national brand and TV drawing.

    That said, BYU is not going to jump into the Big12′s sinking ship. They want a BCS conference, sure, but if OU bails on the conference than it will be at risk of losing its BCS status anyhow. The only way the Big12 gets BYU is if they first secure another name brand (Notre Dame, Boise State, etc.) to stabilize the conference. Then, of course, the Big12 would have to guarantee BYU’s privilege to televise games that are not picked up.

  12. James R. says:

    BYU is pud. It would add absolutely nothing. As long as Texas is Texas and has the Texas TV market and has OU to give it national relevance it could care less whether it’s in an 8 team or 9 or 12 team conference. If any other institution not now in the Big XII want to be a part of it they better bring a significant TV audience with real contract relevance to the networks. In short bring MONEY. Either add more to the financial coffers than you take out or forget it. No Texas or Oklahoma school not now in the conference need apply.

    1. Matthew says:

      whats a pud? Is that something you use to clobber somebody over the head, as in the way BYU’s viewership, TV revenue, and geographical fan base pretty much clobbers every Big12 team? Or is is measured in national championships and Heisman trophy winners, which BYU has more of than most the Big12 teams? Or measured in Outland trophies, Doak Walker Awards, and Davey O’Brien Awards, because BYU has most of the Big12 beat there too. If you want to talk about non-football sports than it gets even uglier. By what crazy standard could you ever conclude that BYU is less valuable than any of those mediocre teams (all but OU and UT) that make up the current Big12.

      BYU holds all the cards right now. They can sit around, get paid more than all the Big12 team (except Texas), get more games on national TV than any Big12 team, and wait to see if the Big12 conference collapses or survives. The only downside to BYU’s position is the crappy bowl games they’ll endure without a BCS conference.

      Thank goodness Nebraska escaped this mess. Go Big Red.

  13. Husker Rich says:

    Oklahoma, your silence is still deafening, you let Nebraska down, please speak up for your brothers in the old Big 8.

  14. Larry H says:

    Whats this why doesn’t OU help it’s brothers in the old big 12. Good GOD guys OU was always about OU and them winning the Big 12 or 8. I just do not get these day dreamers an there la la land thinking about OU being some kind of big buddy brother . If OU was such a supporter of the old big 8 class then why did they stick all the old members in the back. Just like a lot of Kansas school supporters and little Iowa ST. think the same about Nebraska They all feel Big Red ran when the going got tough and abandoned them to drown.So lets all get realistic and get those stupid romantic thoughts where they belong in grade school play grounds and realize even college sports is not about faitness but MONEY. And don’t forget Osborne is no longer a coach but a business man and politician first.

  15. Rickenaz says:

    Great point STAN!!!!

    Wow, that made me laugh!!

  16. Highdef says:

    WARNING: Following comments are not real pretty. I was born in Omaha, grew-up here and in Lincoln and spent the last 24 years in the D/FW area. I bleed red; rich, vibrant, life-sustaining RED. But I’m not housed in a glass bubble to the point of avoiding reality. We can stop being the “Obama” of the college football world, by blaming Texas for every negative thing that happened to “us”. I can’t think of any one horrific thing Texas ever did that Nebraska wouldn’t have done had it been in the exact same position. Ever since the days of running up the scores in the 4th quarter of every KS, KSU and Iowa St game, the collective Cornhusker ego and bravado has sustained us in recent years, in when our years of winning began to wane and our championship losses began to mount. The truth is this: Nebraska football players lost our games for us, and Texas didn’t cheat. Sure, I wanna hurl everytime I replay that 0:01 clock debacle in my mind. Ludicrous. But had we been a team as good as the 90′s or, even close to a team of the mid-80′s, we wouldn’t have ever, ever needed that last second back in order to win a game. We would have and should have had the win in our pocket by the end of the 3rd quarter. Sure, in many boardrooms of the Big 12 conference sessions we Huskers we’re undoubtedly treated as if we should be wearing an ankle bracelet or were 3rd cousins twice-removed and not part of the Big 12 family. But let’s move on. Let’s trash the egos and the bravado of our rich history and look to our new future in a new league that offers new challenges and potential to repeat our past sucess. As much as I hate Longhorn football, I hate seeing articles like this one dredging up a past that I personally would love to forget and move on and learn from.

    1. don says:

      Well said Highdef, but such sentiments may be contrary to the very nature of modern sport. It seems to me that the path of choice for revenue demands spite and false reality. Tom is doing his job here making sure both continue. Only one of the reasons I am trying hard to curb to extinction my interest in this “game”.

  17. GO B1G RED says:


    1) Get rid of the Longhorn Network – in its current form anyway. The only way to provide stability to the conference is to get rid of what caused three teams to defect in the first place. The most sensible thing to do would be to change it to a Big 12 Network. Of course, Texas wouldn’t stand for that. The other option would be to change it to a regional network and add other regional networks to cover the other Big 12 teams, which is what the PAC-12 does. After all, this is what would have to happen if UT along with OU, Okie Lite, and TTech hop on over to a PAC-16. I guess Texas also has the other option of going independent, which I don’t think is what they really want, but if they did this whole thing would be moot.

    2) Add some big time football programs. Norte Dame is a pipe dream. As is Arkansas or any other team from another BCS conference. BYU is a possibility, but they might need some extra incentive other than just an automatic BCS bid to give up their newfound independence. That leaves only mid major teams looking for an upgrade. Houston or SMU don’t really add anything except sheer numbers. The best two options are A) TCU and B) Boise State – and you need them both. TCU is already packed up for the Big East in 2012 for a BCS bid. However, the Big 12 would give them the same thing AND a cheaper travel budget and better competition. The buy-out for leaving the Big East before they even arrive would be worth it to get the reigning Rose Bowl Champion. Of course Texas might not like sharing TV market/recruits, but you won’t save the Big 12 without knocking Bevo down a few notches. Boise State would jump at the chance to get into a BCS conference. The PAC didn’t take them because they offer little in terms of TV market or academics. The Big 12 can’t afford to be that picky. What they do offer is a perennial Top 10 team and matchups of national interest. No disrespect to NU, but a Big 12 with OU, Texas, TCU and Boise State might just be better than the original version (at least right now- the latter two are only recent powers) – and enough to get BYU to come along for the ride. Let’s do the math: if you add TCU, Boise State, and BYU you get to…….

    3) The magic number of 12. No conference in the modern era will have long term success without at least 12 teams and a championship game. Let’s face it, that is the name of the conference isn’t it.

    1. Tom says:

      Excellent proposal.

  18. Highdef says:

    Arkansas hasn’t been a “big time” football program since the 1960′s. And, I disagree. The Big 12 CAN survive without a Texas or Oklahoma team being included. Sure, it won’t have the high-gloss luster of two marquee teams, but the remaining 7 or 8 teams can even bring in mid-level teams like SMU and Houston and remain a hugely competitive conference. And, as long as the “new” Big 12 remained a auto-qualifier for the BCS, it would sure be a league full of equals and, some great competition.

    1. ed says:

      Unfortunately what team in this new conference of yours would be of interest to watch? You can’t go 1 or 2 years of having teams not rated in the top 25 in football and remain a BCS conference unless you’re the Big East and have over 1/2 your teams make the NCAA tourney and win the tournament. Who would ever watch Iowa State v Kansas when you could watch multipe B1G, PAC 16 and SEC teams that are rated in the top 10? They coudn’t even get a TV contract with FSN or Versus, doomed to failure before it even started.

  19. GO B1G RED says:


    Apparently, OU still hasn’t unpacked from last summer for a move to the PAC. Okie Lite will hitch a ride with the Sooners. Will Texas follow and bring along Texas Tech? Most seem to think that these four will complete the PAC-16.

    Which only leaves 5 teams, who don’t have a chance in hell of keeping their BCS status no matter who else they bring in. However, its most likely Mizzou will find someplace to land. Maybe the 14th SEC team? Will the B1G reconsider with superconferences on the way? The only reason Kansas doesn’t get mid majored is their basketball team, but it will probably have to be the Big East. The remaining 3 will have to find a place in Mountain West, MAC, Conference USA? Too bad for Baylor as they just knocked the Rose Bowl Champions out of the BCS this year. TCU isn’t looking so great now, but they already have their ticket to the Big East.

    The team that will be hurt most by the formation of superconferences is Boise State. With a PAC-16 seemingly complete without them, geography really bites them in the @$$. No B1G, no SEC, and no Big East, unless they want to spend a lot of time on the road. With no chance at moving up to a current BCS conference, will Chris Peterson stick around? Will their success continue? I’ve been a fan ever since they defeated the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. My only hope is that a consolidation of the Mountain West / WAC gains BCS status with the loss of the Big 12 conference.

  20. GO B1G RED says:

    I guess I’m assuming some consolidation occurs with superconferences on the way. Such as what’s left of the Big East and ACC after the B1G and SEC raid them to get their respective conferences up to 16.

  21. Tom says:

    The super conferences are good for the future of Professional Football. Thank you Texas. You have a lot of money but little else that is positive. Will miss playing NU and love the NU travel fans. Won’t miss the NU “Poor Us” comments. The NCAA is a farce as is “Student Athelete”. Kansas, KSU, ISU et al have improved their facilities immensly to keep up in the Big 12. And for what? Ever visit the OU Campus or the NU Campus. Football stadiums with support systems. This is higher education? Academics were not considered when NU was invited into the B1G.

    1. hastings husker says:

      whatever.the hell they were’nt,look at where NU was 20 years ago and look at NU now,it has grown in leaps and bounds academically,and if the next 20 years show as much progress as the last 20 it will be one of the better schools in the B1G,you dont change over night,it takes time and NU is clearly on that path,thats why we were accepted,because we WILL fit academically.

  22. Jon in CA says:

    Tom, I would love to hear you comment on UT’s strategic vision (or lack thereof). I find it fascinating that they are letting their world crumble around them! I can only conclude that they are arrogantly blind to what is happening. If you are more or less top dog in a conference, why would you want that conference to fall apart? Texas is on track to either a) remain in a weakened and less prestigious conference, b) join another conference where they will likely see less championships and not dominate conference politics, or c) left out in the cold as an independent. All these options are worse than if they kept the old Big XII together by being more conciliatory to other members like NU, CU, and A&M.