It's not a matter of if, but merely when. The Big 12 is kaput.
When the Board of Regents at OU and Texas yesterday empowered their respective school presidents (David Boren and Williams Powers) to explore new conference affiliations, it officially signaled the beginning of the end for the Irving-based conference. Schools rarely give the green light to pursue greener pastures and then wind up -- never mind -- remaining home.
In this case it's Pac 12 over staying put.
Despite the naive denial issued yesterday afternoon by Big 12 commish Dan Beebe:
"The actions taken today by the governing boards of the universities of Oklahoma and Texas was anticipated," Beebe said in a statement. "It is my opinion that the case for the Big 12 Conference continues to be as strong today for all of our current members as it was last year, especially considering the welfare of those to whom we owe the greatest responsibility -- the student-athletes. "We continue to apply all effort resources toward assuring our members that maintaining the Big 12 is in the best interest for their institutions."
Baghdad Bob, meet your match.
While Boren says remaining in the Big 12 is "still on the table", don't buy it. The Sooners are headed west with Oklahoma State. Will Texas go with them? I"m still told it's 50/50 on the Longhorns joining the Pac 12 or going Independent in football.
This won't be an easy decision. Don't look for an announcement until October.
While the rest of the college landscape shuffles, it brings up an interesting question:
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Will Super Conferences be good for college football?
A&M to the SEC? Notre Dame to the ACC? Pitt and Syracuse leaving the Big East before TCU can even get there? The Big 12 leftovers merging with the Big East? SMU begging for a bigger home?
Texas coach Mack Brown was groaning about parents having to travel farther in new conference alignments. He's right. In the old days Texas played Houston, Rice, Texas A&M, Baylor. Regional schools with local, relevant rivalries. In a new Pac 16 Texas' closest game would be in Lubbock and it would regularly make west-coast trips to places like Oregon and Washington.
I understand USC-Texas will be fun to watch, but I'll miss the Longhorns and Aggies. We're seeing the potential end of the NCAA. Just don't know that, in this instance, if change will ultimately be good.