(Today is Part 2 of the conference realignment extravaganza. Here’s Part 1.)
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The Big 12 lives! Dan Beebe on the other hand…
The wildest day yet in the two-year conference realignment saga ended with a bombshell from the Pac-12, whose presidents decided NOT to expand.
Apparently they wanted nothing to do with The Longhorn Network. Apparently Oklahoma and Oklahoma State alone caused more hassle than they were worth financially.
Considering the Pac-12 has long appeared destined to become the first 16-team super-conference, and considering the actions of Oklahoma president David Boren on Monday (he basically said “Adios” to the Big 12), this was one shocking press release.
Did Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott misread the Pac-12 presidents? Did Scott mistakenly lead the Sooners to believe this was a done deal? Or did Oklahoma just jump the gun, land-rush style? Hard to say. But Oklahoma went to bed Tuesday night with egg all over its face.
The Pac-12 presidents’ decision explains the strange (but fascinating) report from Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel earlier Tuesday. It stated that OU would stay in the Big 12 — if concessions were made. The boldest demand, of course, was the Big 12’s dismissal of Dan Beebe. Whoa.
To Oklahoma, Beebe is Texas’ pawn — a clown fish in a sea of sharks. In other words, OU sees the world the way Nebraska did last fall.
Why didn’t the Sooners grow a backbone 10-15 years ago, when Texas overhauled the Big Eight? Had they taken a stand against Texas and Beebe last summer, would Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M still be in the Big 12? Those are arguments for history. (I find it comical that it took Oklahoma to say something before Big 12 voices realized the need for major changes).
Now the question is whether OU’s demands will be met. Will Beebe get canned? (Most likely, yes). And will Texas agree to scale back The Longhorn Network and not televise high school action? (That’s a tougher call).
Even if Big 12 schools agree to Oklahoma’s demands, can the Sooners really come back to a league they scorned publicly? OU basically said good riddance and stormed out the front door, then got to the driveway and realized the car didn’t start.
Can Boren and Bob Stoops (who also talked openly about a Pac-12 move) really walk back in the house and say, Just kidding! What leverage, at this point, does OU really have? Where are the Sooners gonna go if Texas says no? The SEC? Ha. Not as long as Stoops is head coach.
This may take some serious family counseling to resolve. And even if the Big 12 survives, you wonder how long until it returns to the brink of extinction.
But one lesson of conference realignment is there’s strength in numbers. Which explains this report late Tuesday night that BYU is likely to join the Big 12 if it sticks together. My question: Who is making that invitation? Beebe? Brady Deaton, chairman of the Big 12 board of directors? DeLoss Dodds, Texas AD? At this point, who knows?
>> One rather large remaining question is what happens to Missouri. The Kansas City Star reported Tuesday that the Tigers had an offer to become SEC No. 14 (Auburn would move to the SEC East to balance the divisions). The Birmingham News reported that the SEC and Mizzou had informally agreed to a deal.
If true, is that SEC offer still on the table? The Big 12 may be more appealing from a competitive standpoint. But the stability (and football prestige) of the SEC is hard to pass up. You don’t want to opt for the Big 12, then watch the league collapse a year from now (which is highly possible) and end up in a weak Big East. On the other hand, you also don’t want to get killed every year by Alabama and LSU. Tough decision for Mizzou.
>> And if Missouri says no to the SEC, where does Mike Slive turn for No. 14? West Virginia has reportedly been denied. That leaves Virginia Tech and a bunch of schools from the SEC footprint: Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Louisville. I can’t imagine the SEC sticking with 13 teams for long. If I’m Slive, I focus on Va Tech and FSU (even if it means upsetting Florida).
>> What happens in the Big East? Apparently the league wants to expand to replace Syracuse and Pittsburgh. According to the New York Times, the list of candidates includes Navy, Air Force, Temple, Central Florida, East Carolina (which has already applied for membership), Memphis and Houston. Not much football tradition in that bunch, huh.
>> Whether or not the Big East expands, there’s a strong chance the league’s non-football schools break away and form their own league. And that potentially opens the door for Creighton.
The Big East has eight private, non-football members: St. John’s, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall, DePaul, Villanova, Georgetown and Notre Dame. Let’s say they want 16. They add the best private schools in the Atlantic 10: St. Joseph’s, Xavier, St. Louis, George Washington, Dayton and Richmond. Now they’re up to 14.
That leaves room for two of the Midwest’s best private programs: Butler and Creighton. Is it likely? No. But it’s fun to speculate.
>> Here’s a more likely scenario: the creation of two new basketball-focused leagues, comprised of Big East leftovers, the Atlantic 10 and select Midwest hoops schools.
Conference No. 1, made up of urban, non-football, mostly private, East Coast schools: Georgetown, St. John’s, Villanova, Providence, Seton Hall, St. Joseph’s, Temple, Massachusetts (and perhaps a few others from the A-10, like Rhode Island, George Washington and Richmond).
Conference No. 2, made up of urban, non-football, all-private, Midwestern schools: Marquette, DePaul, Creighton, Butler, St. Louis, Xavier, Dayton and Duquesne.
If the dominoes start falling, that’s an intriguing option for Creighton. I would love to see it happen. The program (and the school) has outgrown the Valley.
>> I keep hearing UConn and Rutgers to the ACC. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the ACC to invite UConn and Louisville? Ahhh, there I go again thinking with my head instead of my pocketbook. TV sets, apparently, are more valuable than basketball tradition, even in a basketball league.
>> So let me get this straight. The Pac-10 added Colorado and Utah in 2010, when it could’ve had Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in 2011. Oops. Sometimes it pays to wait.
>> Clay Travis, the prolific southern blogger, proposes a revolutionary model for the SEC: A 16-team league with four divisions. Each division crowns a champion. And the four champions move into semifinals, followed by the SEC title game. In other words, it’s like the NFC/AFC playoff system, without the wild cards. Pretty interesting.
>> What do you think about Tuesday’s events? And what will happen next? Leave a comment below.