With more dominoes falling this weekend, it appears ever more likely that college football is about to change drastically as schools look to form “super conferences.”
Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are in negotiations with the Pac-12 conference, according to a Sunday report by the Austin American-Statesman. According to the Statesman, Texas would be allowed to keep its Longhorn Network if it joined the conference, with a few provisions.
First, the revenue earned from the network would have to be one-sixteenth of what the Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. Also, the network would need to include Texas Tech and thus be renamed to something befitting of both schools.
If those four schools joined the conference, it’d give it 16 teams.
According to the Statesman, it is expected that the UT Board of Regents will meet today to vote and authorize President William Powers Jr. to make an executive decision regarding conference realignment. Powers graduated from California, a Pac-12 school, in 1967.
Meanwhile on the East Coast, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have agreed to leave the Big East Conference and join the Atlantic Coast Conference. Besides giving the ACC perhaps the best quality basketball teams, the move also could mean the end for the Big East, a conference that has been struggling to keep up with other football powers for the past few years. The addition of those schools would make the conference a 14-team league. Connecticut is lobbying to join the ACC as well, according to ESPN.com.
With the Southeastern Conference standing firm — with or without Texas A&M — the last of the four eventual super conferences would be the Big 10, which just added Nebraska this season.
Of course, if all these moves play out, the Big 12 and the Big East would probably face either extinction or tremendous loss of prestige. The loss of the Longhorns, Sooners and Aggies — coupled with the loss of Nebraska this year — would be too much for the conference, which began play in 1996.
Four prominent Texans took out a full-page ad in the Statesman on Sunday, calling for the unification of the Big 12.
Drayton McLane, Red McCombs, Mark White and Phil Hardberger, the former mayor of San Antonio, wrote that “what we have as a conference is not only worth fighting for, it’s worth waging peace for.”
“Sending our teams to conferences elsewhere would reflect total disregard for more than a hundred years of sporting history. Stop and think about how future generations will experience football games — not with a reasonable drive by car on a Saturday afternoon, but with a faraway game, played time zones away from our own, that kicks off at 10 o’clock at night.”
Despite its common sense ethos, the letter is most likely not enough to save the Big 12 as the college landscape shifts to an era of super conferences.