Hello, college football fans!
Texas leaving the Big 12? In the words of Lee Corso, NSF (Not so fast, my friend!)
I think that the preference of Texas would be to stay in the Big 12. They have great rivalries with Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Travel is reasonable (as opposed to joining the Pac 10 and Big 10 as some have speculated). And the TV deal in the Big 12 clearly favors them and the Southern division. No other conference is going to give them as sweet of a deal. If the SEC were to invite Texas, I am sure that they will have to accept an equal and not a proportional share (otherwise many of the lower profile SEC teams and probably the middle of the pack teams would vote no on Texas). In addition, Texas is interested in their own television network. I can't imagine the Big 10 or SEC would allow Texas to keep its own share to itself (the Pac-10 might but probably won't either). If this "Longhorn" Network is worthwhile to Texas, most likely they will have to stay in the Big 12. As for the fact that their TV revenues are way higher in the Big 10 and SEC (1/12th or 1/14th of those leagues probably beats 1/10th of the Big 12, which is what I estimate Texas gets now), certainly the revenue will go up after the next TV contract is renegotiated (speculation is even though the ACC won't make Big 10 or SEC money, their contract will be nothing to sneeze at either). If the Big 12 contract is close to what the ACC is reportedly getting, the increase in revenue for Texas to jump would be minimized (remember travel costs would go up in a move to any other conference). Also keep in mind the possible revenue from the "Longhorn" Network.
The only thing else I can see that would cause Texas to leave the Big 12 is if the BCS takes away the automatic bid from the BCS. If the BCS even tries that, you think Sen. Orin Hatch is loud, could you imagine the uproar from Texas if they were denied a chance at the BCS (and it's not like they haven't stuck their noses in college sports before)? So I seriously doubt that's going to happen.
Missouri leaving for the Big 10 (as speculated) is not going to cause Texas to want to leave. Colorado leaving for the Pac 10 is not going to cause Texas to want to leave. If Colorado leaves, that would save Texas and the Texas schools a long trip (and if Texas and the Big 12 want the Denver market, they can replace them with Colorado State and/or Air Force in a heartbeat). I doubt the Longhorns would miss Missouri unless they really care about St. Louis (Kansas City would be still covered by Kansas). The only team Texas might miss would be Nebraska. Plus, there are plenty of Big 12 candidates. They can choose a more regional flair by inviting old SWC members and minimize travel expenses or try the "expand market" approach and head for Utah and BYU (assuming the Pac 10 won't invite BYU as speculated). I'm not going to say Arkansas is in play, they won't leave the SEC. But assuming the Big 12 loses three schools, I'm sure I can find three schools to replace them easily. And I'm sure if Iowa State or Kansas State wanted to leave, Texas would send moving vans and boxes to the two schools free of charge.
So I doubt Texas would leave the Big 12 to any other conference unless it's clear the Big 12 is a sinking ship (in terms of money or BCS bid). Remember Texas is a pretty big anchor and they hold a lot of weight. And why would Texas A&M or Oklahoma (or Texas Tech or Baylor or Oklahoma State) leave the Big 12 if Texas stayed and it is not a huge disadvantage to stay)? Forget any political interference, do you think any of those schools would want to give up their rivalry with Texas without some huge benefit to counter?
Also, like it or not, Texas knows it holds a lot of cards. It's pretty clear that Texas (or the politicians) would demand Texas A&M to go with them and there's a decent chance Oklahoma (and likely Oklahoma State) would be at least proposed as part of the deal. I can't imagine either the SEC or Big 10 would be thrilled about (or need to like the Big 8 back in the 90's) to take them all. I'm sure Texas would more likely leave for a situation where they would feel somewhat comfortable instead of for a "fish out of water" situation if given the choice. Don't think the SEC or Big 10 will get very far if they go to Texas thinking it's a privilege to join their conference. If either of them say to Texas to "take it or leave it", chances are Texas will "leave it" unless they have no other choice but to take it.
Basically I think it's going to take a lot to get Texas to leave the Big 12 behind. I don't think just offering them more money is going to be enough, Texas would have to feel like they are losing a lot to leave. And for sure if the Big 12 keeps Texas, they keep A&M, Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. And assuming Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State stay, while the Big 12 won't be at the level of the Big 10 and SEC top to bottom, the Big 12 isn't going to become the MWC or WAC (or Big East).
All of you thinking there will be only four super conferences, don't count out the Big 12 (or the power of Texas) out just yet.