The Pac-16 appears to be vital again, while the Big 12 as we’ve known is likely heading into oblivion.
According an Austin-American Statesman report, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are eyeing a deal that would align them the West region conference to form the first 16-member league. This is a similar model that had been discussed and strongly considered during the summer of 2010 before the Longhorns pulled out in favor of remaining in Big 12 where they could launch their own Longhorns Network.
But now that Texas A&M has bolted the Big 12 for the SEC, the viability of the league seems in doubt. Nebraska and Colorado both left the Big 12 this past summer to reduce the conference to a 10-member league. Last summer, the Aggies were part of the deal that would have sent five schools to the then Pac-10.
But with A&M all but gone to the SEC, it appears that the formation of the country’s first super conference is inevitable.
“It’s heating up,” said a high-ranking administrator at one of the four Big 12 schools told the American-Statesman on Sunday . “We’re trying to move in that direction (of joining the Pac-12).”
According to American-Statesman, UT president William Powers and Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott met for three hours in Los Angeles on Friday, a day prior to the Longhorns defeating UCLA 49-20 at the Rose Bowl. Athletic directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky were not a part of the meetings.
But now comes the interesting part. There seems to be interest from both sides, but it’s a matter of who makes the first move. Scott said as recently as Saturday that he was comfortable remaining a 12-member conference while some Pac-12 schools have said they don’t want to expand.
But the American-Statesman says the Pac-12 is just awaiting a formal application or at least a request for membership from the four Big 12 schools.
That could come as early as Monday.
One of the major hurdles that derailed Texas joining the Pac-10 last year appears to have been cleared. The Pac-12 will allow Texas to keep the lucrative ESPN-backed Longhorn Network as long as some Pac-12 programming will be included.
The possibility of Pac-12 expansion comes on the heels of the ACC making a bold decision to expand over the weekend, adding Pittsburgh and Syracuse from the Big East to become a 14-member conference. At least two more Big East schools could also soon be heading to the ACC with UConn at the front of the exit line.
That could create an interesting opportunity for the Big 12 schools that appear left behind. There is the possibility that Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State could either be absorbed by the Big East where TCU is set to become a member next summer. There is also the chance for a merger between the two leagues that would preserve their BCS affiliation. Missouri, meanwhile, is believed to be positioning itself for a SEC move as that conference looks to go to 14 members after Texas A&M becomes the 13th school.