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I never thought I would see the day...
UT was one school that, like OU, I thought couldn't come out of any end scenario without winning.
I was wrong.
Last year UT played the Pac-12 in order to get a better deal out of the Big 12. They strung them along and left those proud western schools at the altar. This year the Pac-12 leaders returned the favor.
In case you missed this, the Board of Regents at UT voted to approve changing conferences on Monday before the Pac-12 leadership rewarded UT's lack of enthusiasm and endless conditions with an "eh...never mind" on the idea of offering them a slot.
It wasn't close. At least six out of 12 Pac-12 schools turned them down.
While it is possible the Arizonas could have stood firmly against leaving a division with USC and UCLA, how much do you want to bet the six schools were the academic elites of the Pac-12: Stanford, Cal, UCLA, USC, Washington and either Colorado or Arizona?
It sounds a lot like the Pac-12 elite returning that pimp slap from last year.
I can't say it was 100% the smart thing for the Pac-12 to do, but it could work out for them very well down the road if it brings UT back to reality. (It could also backfire on the Pac-12 spectacularly if UT jumps alone to the Big Ten).
Now UT has to go back to a Big 12, where the momentum is all about pulling together and controlling UT. Their "Tech problem" is likely back to some degree. It will be much harder for UT to get out now than it would have been last week, especially if Baylor continues with their threats of legal action against A&M.
Hey UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds, you remember pushing splitting "tier 1" TV revenues evenly back on the 9th of September? That appeared to have been designed to make certain OU and A&M felt a reason to leave, as they would be losing up to $5M each. OU's departure would kill the conference, freeing up UT to follow them out the door to any conference the Longhorns chose. Well, OU apparently does remember that bit of backstabbing.
OU Beat writer Berry Tramel, a source high up in the Big 12, said, "...OU could even push for revenue-sharing of individual networks. Texas is reaping more than $12 million a year from its ESPN contract with the Longhorn Network."
Hey UT President Bill Powers, remember giving Texas Legislators your personal assurances that if they let A&M leave, the Big 12 will survive? They probably do. It may be quite a while before anyone in the Texas government believes a word you say again.
Remember that Big 12 voting block of UT, OU, A&M, Tech, and Baylor that UT used to have that made it impossible for the conference to ram through anything UT didn't like? Who exactly has UT not screwed over in that block in the last year?
OU seems non-plussed about getting screwed out of a Pac-12 invite. A&M is probably gone. Tech also desperately wanted to go to the Pac-12. They had to read on orangebloods.com about Dodds talking to the Atlantic Coast Conference about UT bailing without Tech, instead of carrying the Red Raiders with UT to the Pac-12. And Baylor...well....
It seems pretty clear who lost the most ground here. UT gave a lot for very little. They have no credibility with state politicians, Texans in general and their conference mates.
If A&M does make it out the door, UT may break even, as that would open the door for UT to depart on their own at some point down the road, but shy of that, the Pac-12 handed the Longhorn leadership their asses.
It looks like through two rounds, UT and the Pac-12 are 1-1.
Of course, with a brilliant megalomaniac like DeLoss Dodds in charge, this won't last long. OU and the rest of the Big 12 need to be bold and act quickly. Dodds is like the Russel Hance of realignment survivor.
Here's hoping that when the third time comes around, UT and the Pac-12 will leave their agendas at the door and make this smart marriage work.