We can't personally vouch for the credibility of the Austin-American Statesman's sources. But if the picture portrayed by those sources in this story by Kirk Bohls and Alan Trubow is at all accurate, the day of reckoning for the Big 12 is just about at hand.
According to the report -- and as also reported by CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd -- University of Texas president Bill Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds flew to Oklahoma Sunday for a meeting with Sooners officials. Powers' and Dodds' aim, according to Bolhs and Trubow: convince Oklahoma (and by association, joined-at-the-hip in-state rival Oklahoma State) to remain in the Big 12 and forgo applying for membership in the Pac-12.
But according to the report's sources, the Sooners' minds were -- and are -- already made up. They're looking West:
"There's nothing Texas could have offered Oklahoma that would have changed their mind. They were set on leaving the Big 12 before Texas got there," a well-placed source at a Big 12 school said, adding that Sunday's meeting had a very friendly and cooperative tone. "The Big 12's done. Oklahoma wasn't open to creating Big 12 stability" ...Despite the Sooners' and Cowboys' intentions, even the report isn't ready to move the realignment chess pieces just yet. While the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State move is "expected," Larry Scott -- who has said repeatedly the Pac-12 doesn't want to expand at this time -- and the Pac-12 presidents could reject the Sooners' and Cowboys' applications.
"Texas must have come into the meeting and seen the handwriting on the wall," said a source close to OU and Texas who is familiar with these realignment issues. "I think OU and OSU will seek membership to the Pac-12 in the next two weeks, but [Texas] A&M comes first."
But assuming Scott does pull the trigger, Texas would be left without a viable conference as the Big 12 crumbles. Per the report, their options at that stage would be to follow the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-12 (or -14), apply to join the ACC, or go independent--and the report claims Texas officials have already had highly preliminary talks with the ACC.
While independence is described as the least appealing option for Dodds and Texas officials, the Longhorn Network could be a major stumbling block for joining one of the other conferences. According to Bohls and Trubow, "Texas has no desire to part, alter or share any aspect of The Longhorn Network, but it would not be able to retain the network as is in the Pac-12." The Longhorns are also reportedly balking at the Pac-12's plan for divisional alignments in a 16-team scenario.
So what's the bottom line right now? With the Statesman report backing the widespread rumors that the Sooners are ready to pack their bags, it seems safe to assume that Oklahoma is indeed bent on abandoning the Big 12 and concluding its viability as a conference. But past that? Every other conference realignment chip is still in the air, and it remains anybody's guess where they fall.
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