With all the talks of conference realignment, no teams have been more at the forefront than the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns.
After losing Colorado to the Pac-12, Nebraska to the Big Ten and now Texas A&M to the SEC, the Big 12 is dwindling fast. Many believed the Pac-12 would be the obvious solution to the longtime Red River rivals' problems, especially after both schools' board of regents met last week and gave both universities presidents permission to seek a new conference.
Then the bad news came. Pac-12 presidents met together and voted down the idea of expanding the conference. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott released this statement: "...after careful review we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference.''
This came as a surprise to both schools, but it had to be a bigger letdown for Oklahoma president David Boren. The University of Texas has already stated its interest in becoming an independent school, and its cable television network has basically given it all the power in deciding.
At least, that's what most believe. I tend to think differently. The Longhorn Network hasn't given Texas power; if anything, it's reduced the amount of power it actually has. The Big 12 was thought to be powered only by Texas; wherever Texas chose to play, that's where Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State would go.
Oklahoma, the other Big 12 powerhouse, may in fact hold more power than Texas. No conference wants to take on Texas' television network. That network puts every team in every conference at risk of losing all they've worked for. It's an unfair advantage that most schools won't put up with.
There's no wonder the Pac-12 voted against expanding at this point and time. It's not because it didn't necessarily want Oklahoma, Texas Tech or Oklahoma State, it's that it didn't want Texas. At this point, I think it's safe to say that all Big 12 schools are more or less fed up with the way Texas has handled itself through all of this.
The most obvious case-in-point would be Texas A&M's pursuit of joining the SEC. Texas A&M already had to fight with Texas for recruits, television time, money, etc. However, joining the SEC makes the Aggies the only Texas school in the conference. They will gain more money, more TV opportunities and more recruits by playing in the hands-down best conference in college football.
The other side of the argument could be that Texas A&M was just overreacting, that it itself handled the situation poorly and took out all its aggravation on the rest of the Big 12 by leaving. While this may be the case, Texas A&M can't be punished for pursuing a conference that would put its best interests at the forefront. That's the SEC.
Even though most won't want to hear it, Oklahoma has to do the same thing. If the Oklahoma and Texas rivalry can somehow be salvaged, that's a plus, but that's not what's important anymore. College football has turned into a greedy, money-hungry organization that doesn't care about tradition or rivalries.
The times, they are a changin', and Oklahoma, not Texas, holds both its own and the Big 12's future in its hands. For now, the thought is that the Big 12 will remain together and hopefully add two or three teams to the mix. The most commonly rumored additions are Louisville, West Virginia, BYU, TCU and Air Force.
None of these teams would necessarily be bad additions to the Big 12, but none is as good as Texas A&M or Nebraska. Whatever the case, the Big 12 will be taking a major step back, which is not something that should be praised in a time where conference stability is such a major issue.
Oklahoma needs to start acting alone and pursuing conferences, whether that be the SEC, ACC, Big Ten or Pac-12. The Sooners hold the key to their future and they need to do what's best for themselves.
Nobody likes what Texas A&M did. Nobody wants to feel abandoned. Unfortunately, that's what it's coming to.
College football has only one ruler, and his name is Charles Darwin.
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