The Big 12 has reportedly given an ultimatum to Nebraska (and Missouri) to decide if they are going to board the Big 12 plane or if they are going to board a different (Big 10?) plane. The Pac 10 has reportedly all but offered half the Big 12 (Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado) to join forces with it. What's the deciding factor in either case? From Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star:
The sentiment being leaked to Texas media sources is that Nebraska is the trigger to whether a reported six-team bolt to the Pac-10 might occur. The teams involved are Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado.
Since Colorado was mentioned in the initial report, Baylor has been suggested in some quarters as a substitute for Colorado to go to the Pac-10, heightening what many schools in the North believe is a prime concern: State of Texas control of a Big 12 Conference that was formed when the Big Eight Conference merged with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.
Baylor? Really? What gives? Oh yeah. Politics gives, just like it did back in the mid 90's when the Big XII was formed.
The Web site (Orangebloods.com - PM) even quoted a "high-ranking member" of the legislature as saying, "... do you think we`re going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don`t think so. We`re already at work on this."
...It`s certainly not the first time the Texas legislature has stepped in to interrupt realignment plans. I`ve been told by more than one person involved in the situation that when Texas received an invitation to join the Pac-10 in 1994 (along with Colorado), Texas lawmakers told UT officials they weren`t going anywhere without the majority of their Texas brethren.
In a related development, a group of Texas lawmakers determined to keep Baylor with the other Big 12 South schools being invited are attempting to enlist the efforts of Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
That charge also includes new Baylor president Kenneth Starr (yes, the Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky prosecutor), who just took office, and powerful Texas lobbyist Buddy Jones, who has deep BU ties.
Sorry Baylor, but this is like getting to go out on a date with the homecoming queen and being told by your parents that you have to take your 8 year-old kid brother with you on your date. Texas, you're a big boy, but your parents (the Texas legislature) are always going to be bigger.
Of course, the homecoming queen wouldn't mind taking the little brother along just to get her foot in the door with the star QB of the school football team.
A Big 12 athletic director told Orangebloods.com the Pac-10 has indicated it might be willing to invite Baylor instead of Colorado to avoid a political storm that could clutter the other Big 12 South schools from joining the country's first 16-team super conference.
Much hay has been made about the Big 12's revenue-sharing system. It's a split pool plan where 50% of TV revenue is split 12 ways and the other 50% is divided up depending on TV appearances. The more a team is on TV, the more it gets. Because of its football fan base, a national brand, Nebraska makes out relatively well under this system. What really bothers Nebraska fans and officials is not the way the money is divided up. It's the way the politics are shared with the Texas teams.
Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne didn't like outsiders coming into his kingdom and telling him how things were going to be. Of course, that was the mid-1990s, when Nebraska was ruling college football by winning three national titles in four years (1994, 1995 and 1997).
Osborne still seems rankled by what he perceives to be a catering to Texas in the Big 12, right down to last week's decision to keep the league's football championship game in Cowboys Stadium the next three years.
Osborne was the only dissenting vote in an 11-1 tally by the conference athletic directors.
That's the same Cowboys Stadium where Texas had one second put back on the clock to kick a 46-yard field goal to beat Nebraska for the 2009 Big 12 title.
If the reports are true about the Pac 10 offer and the ultimatum, Texas, not Nebraska, still holds the better cards since it has the more sure-thing option. If the Big 12 remains intact,and that's a big if, expect it to look politically like it does today and expect the Husker faithful to continue grumbling about their political place in the Big 12.