Per Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com , The University of Texas is now stating they are willing to stay in a ten-team Big 12 as UT has gotten the concession they wanted and can now start their own sports content network.
This is not all that surprising. As I wrote two days ago, it was time for the Pac-10 to sweeten their offer.
Background story on UT's Network
UT has been talking about starting it's own sports content network for a number of years.
Big 12 members who already can not keep up with UT's athletic revenue generation have almost unanimously opposed it. None of them have the multi-sports dominance to provide year-round content or the start up capital to launch such an enterprise.
Texas A&M was among the most fiercely against allowing UT to start a network and plow even more money into the Longhorn athletic program, further increasing the gap between UT's and A&M's athletic resources.
The A&M situation
Brown reports A&M reportedly had a 6-3 vote within their Board of Regents favoring a decision to move to the SEC as of the weekend. Now, with the specter of a left coast invasion of domineering tree-huggers who want to improve Texas academics theoretically dispelled, UT hopes to use public sentiment in Texas to browbeat A&M into staying - while UT gets their network.
Texas Governor and Aggie Rick Perry, who had distanced himself from interfering with the A&M exodus while it had support among Aggies as resisting western oppression and rejoining "their people", may very well be put in the awkward position of having to twist arms on the A&M Board of Regents to get them to reverse their SEC momentum (and not tank his reelection efforts by having the Aggies put the final nail in the Big 12).
It is shaping up to be as interesting of a week as the last few have been, if not more so.
So what should the Pac-10 try next?
Keep your invitations out to the current schools, and today offer Missouri the twelfth spot in the Pac-10, announcing an intention of going to 17 or 18 members by offering slots to 8 Big 12 members at the request of Missouri.
Advise Mizzou that like Colorado, their entrance is guaranteed assuming that they immediately accept, as that helps the conference land UT. (In theory, another strategy is to ask the Tigers to wait a bit until Texas A&M balks at staying in a Big 12 that features UT with their own network. That Aggie rejection would take down the conference without the Pac-10 or Missouri's finger prints, but on the flip side you never want to give UT more time to string out things or talk to more conferences.)
(I personally would talk about a Pac/SW-18. I'd recommend adding Mizzou and Kansas to the list—good academic state flagships who are AAU members, offer nine million residents in their states and two major DMAs—but if the Big 12 loses only Mizzou, that would work too. At that point there simply isn't enough left of the Big 12 to generate the revenue UT wants. Although Missouri would do it, it would string out the negotiations.)
Consider that Missouri was probably one of the favorites to replace A&M anyway, and they clearly crave the the better academics and payouts the Big Ten and Pac-10 offer. Of all the Big 12 schools, Mizzou always seemed the one most willing to take the money and run. Stated more charitably, they appear to believe in the Big 12 vision a lot less than some of the other schools.
I think strategically the Pac-10 would be better off offering Kansas and Mizzou as it reduces the contentiousness that is likely to be aimed at Missouri if they accept—easing the way for UT moving west.
That may not be seen as being as a desirable end result for some Pac-10 fans for the Pac-10 as a Texas grab, and it isn't in athletic terms, but it is a lot better academically than adding 4 non-AAU members and provides two central timezone game sites to generate prime time content for eastern viewers. Simply put, even if UT doesn't join, it does a lot to solve Pac-10 problems without being perceived as selling their academic souls.
Even if Colorado, Mizzou, Kansas, and some other school (Iowa State?) are the end result of Pac-10 expansion, it will have been far, far more successful than just adding Colorado and Utah in terms of the academic gains and the time zone benefits offered.
Where the Pac-10 offer stands today and what to do after adding Missouri
It seems like Tech's and OSU's offers may be conditional on UT and OU accepting. It would be sensible if that is how they have been put out there.
OU should be the school targeted if Mizzou and Kansas are successfully brought in.
Selling OU's president on the Pac-10 benefits (longtime Big Eight rivals, better academic standing, a much better opportunity to add research dollars, and a more likely path to a revenue generating national title game) would be another key move.
Don't lose faith.
The Pac-10 should not read this announcement as set in stone. This is just the negotiation process required to add UT.
Come on guys, this is close.
The university network was the last bullet in the Big 12 gun.
Let's get it done.