Texas remains king of the Big 12 and any attempt by any other school to force the conference’s hand won’t work. Commissioner Dan Beebe made that clear by setting deadlines for Nebraska and Missouri to declare their intentions. Notice that Beebe didn’t put any such pressure on Texas.
Smart move by the commish, even if there was no “or else” attached to the deadlines.
The Big 12 can thrive with Texas on board because one factor matters most in all of this. That’s right, dollar signs. Boy, would former KU coach Mark Mangino have a field day with this one.
Last week, our own Gary Bedore reported the following thoughts from KU basketball coach Bill Self regarding the Longhorns:
“Let’s just call it like it is, Texas carries the most weight, in my opinion,” Self said. “You’ve got three of the top 10 television markets, an unbelievable budget, you’ve got easy travel, flying directly into a big city. You have a lot of things that Texas can obviously sell. To me, Texas carries a big, big, big stick in this fight.”
If Self’s words aren’t enough to convince you, consider those from UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds, who offered up what might have been the best quote of the week at the recent Big 12 spring meetings in Kansas City, Mo.
“We didn’t start this,” Dodds said. “But if we need to finish it, we’ll finish it.”
Today, some opinions pinpoint Nebraska as the key to the league’s survival but not for the same reasons as Texas. Unlike the Longhorns, the Huskers aren’t mighty enough any longer to simply flex their muscles and watch the rest of the world obey.
Their part in all this talk about which school is most crucial to the survival of the Big 12 comes from the well-publicized Friday “deadline” that has been sent NU’s way by the Big 12.
Nebraska, of course, has been linked to the Big Ten in recent weeks, joining Missouri as the two most likely Big 12 institutions to bolt for the Big Ten. To this point, the Huskers have used that position as a bargaining chip.
No longer. With the Beebe deadline, which evidently constituted the “process” that he bragged about but did not identify last Friday, the Huskers now must make their decision and let everyone in on it: Big Ten or Big 12. Will they call Beebe’s bluff and let the deadline pass? Why not, right? What’s the Big 12 going to do about it? Or will the Huskers cooperate and end the Big Ten portion of this mess.
The more serious threat involves the Pac-10’s interest in inviting six Big 12 schools to join them out west. Another bold move in one part of the country, another hard swallow in Big 12 country.
So there you have it; Texas in the South and Nebraska in the North. Those are the two schools with the most power in all this, albeit for very different reasons. Missouri would like you to believe that it’s holding valuable cards in its hand, too. But the Tigers aren’t.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Colorado appears to be just as likely as any of the other three — Texas, Nebraska and Missouri — to be gone when all this shakes down, but the Buffs aren’t pretending that anyone cares. Kind of makes you want them to stay, doesn’t it?