Less than two days after the Big 12 was notified by Texas A&M that the Aggies would be leaving the conference, Oklahoma president David Boren announced Friday that his school will now explore changing its athletic conference affiliation.
He stated that multiple conferences, in addition to the Big 12, have expressed interest in Oklahoma.
He also said that they would now "carefully evaluate the various comments that are being made...and the various possibilities that are being shown to us before we decide what's best for the university to do."
For many, Oklahoma's announcement felt like an old-style ambush. Over the last two days, the nine remaining Big 12 members had thought their attempts to re-establish unity and trust among themselves might have succeeded.
The presidents, chancellors and athletic directors of these schools had been working together diligently to address these issues.
Friday night, after Boren's announcement, Baylor AD Ian McCaw said in comments to the NY Times: "All of our efforts are still to keep the Big 12 together and expand and move forward. Until we can move together with an expansion plan, there’s a measure of uncertainty, and that’s unfortunate.”
Saturday, Missouri AD Mike Alden echoed the same sentiments when he commented on the latest development: "I think what it does is it reinforces instability. I mean, you put something like that out there, and that just reinforces that image of being unstable."
Do not let the polite confusion of McCaw and Alden distract you from the truth - Oklahoma president Boren did not make his announcement Friday to create the "image of being unstable." He did it to begin the process that will land the Sooners in another conference.
The Big 12 could have survived the defection of A&M, but the loss of Oklahoma (and most assuredly, the Big 12 will lose Oklahoma) would be devastating and will, upon confirmation, sound the conference's death knell.
Like the Aggies before them, Oklahoma has their destination picked out. And, like the Aggies before them, they will observe formalities before officially announcing their destination.
But unlike the Aggies, they are not "SECeding" from the Big 12; they are "PAC-king it in." Why the PAC 12 and not the SEC?
When Larry Scott, the commissioner of the PAC 12, announced at the end of July that the PAC 12 will create six regional networks as TV channels for his conference's proposed national network, he may have intentionally set the demise of the Big 12 into motion.
People close to the story rumored that last year Texas backed away from the "Sirens of the Pacific" because Texas wanted their own cable network, and the PAC 12 thought otherwise.
Last year's deal was to have brought Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Colorado and Baylor on board for the formation of super-conference PAC 16. This came years after an initial overture from the PAC 10 was to bring Colorado and Texas aboard.
Neither budged at that time, but this time Colorado did. Colorado was joined by Utah and the PAC 10 became the PAC 12.
This year, Commissioner Scott's vision to create six regional networks seemed to have removed the major stop to Texas' acquiescing to his song. Each region; Washington, Oregon, Northern California, Southern California, Arizona and the Mountains - is to have its own "channel" that would serve the two teams within that region.
Clearly, the PAC 12 went away, re-thought its repertoire, and came back with a better tune. Under Larry Scott's conducting, the PAC 12 no longer had a problem with schools who wanted their own networks...or at least their own channels.
Thus this year (in fact, maybe this month), the PAC 12 gets the rest of the "usual suspects" (except for Baylor) - and the PAC 16 will be born.
Larry Scott's vision of six regional networks grows to eight regional networks, Texas will "get along" to the PAC 12 as if the "little doggies" had no other recourse, and Oklahoma takes all the blame.
It will appear as if Oklahoma initiated the inevitable collapse of the Big 12. It will appear as if Oklahoma created the current climate of instability within the Big 12. And, it will appear as if Oklahoma is being "followed" to the PAC 12 by Texas.
The PAC 12 will initially react as if they had no interest in going to 16 schools. They'll coo, look away, and smile seductively as all sirens do. And in the end...they will say yes.
Keyser Soze would be so proud of the Longhorn Network...
Don't worry, it isn't over, it's just beginning. To be continued...