Big 12 realignment
Here we go again. Or do we?
By this time last year, the whole conference realignment mess was well behind us and KU fans — as well as those fanatics from the rest of the Big 12 — were comfortably able to look forward to the upcoming college football season and, in some places, maybe even start dreaming about how successful their hoops squad would be.
This year, although the timing doesn’t quite match up, it’s starting to feel a little like deja vu with a little twist of scary.
That’s right, conference realignment — and more specifically the demise of the Big 12 — has roared to the forefront once again and, this time, there’s reason to believe things could become even more serious than they were last time around.
Not surprisingly, the center of the storm continues to revolve around Texas, one of the most powerful programs in the country which got its way by keeping the conference together last year, retaining all the power and being given the green light to go ahead with the Longhorn Network, which is expected to launch on Aug. 26. I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the commercials.
With Texas all fat and happy, things appeared to be headed for smoother waters and sunnier times. To quote college football analyst, Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”
Instead of the Longhorns raising the fuss and controlling the agenda, it’s the rest of the league that’s got things going this time around. Most specifically, Texas A&M. The Aggies and Longhorns have never seen eye-to-eye and the feud appears to be raging more out of control than ever.
The Aggies protested the Longhorns’ desire and plans to televise Texas high school football games on the Longhorn Network, something that inspired Big 12 commissioner, Dan Beebe, to step in and speak up.
“Until the members have a chance to consider all the issues and come to conclusion ... no more than one live football game will be televised on any institutional network and no high school content will be televised on a branded member's network.”
Uh oh. Somebody’s not gonna like Beebe getting involved to this extent.
Somebody is, though.
“We are pleased that the commissioner has started to address these concerns, but many questions remain,” Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “These are significant issues for all collegiate athletics as they relate to broadcast rights, revenue distribution and the recruitment of student-athletes.”
The, we’ll call it a disagreement, between UT and A&M can go one of two ways from here. The two sides can work together, show some respect and understanding for themselves and the rest of the conference and resolve this thing in a manner that pleases both sides and ensures the survival and future success of the Big 12.
Or, as some of the rumors out there already have suggested, they can fight like disgruntled siblings and bring the conference to its knees once again.
Only time will tell which path they’ll take. UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds continues to stress that Texas is not trying to gain an unfair advantage here and that the Longhorns are happy and the conference is in good shape.
Again, time will tell. But just as we saw last year, there are plenty of people keeping a close eye on this situation and if some of these people find even the smallest opening, a full-on raid of the Big 12 could be in store yet again. If one were to happen, I’m guessing that, this time, there wouldn’t be much anyone could do to save the conference.
Having said that, there are still plenty of people out there — beyond Beebe and Dodds — who believe the Big 12 is fine and the conference will continue to move forward into a bright, bright future.
The guess here is that this thing won’t linger for long, at least not in the way we saw in 2010. There’s too much at stake for that to happen again. It’ll either be resolved quickly or fall apart just as fast.
Stay tuned... We'll have much more on this story next week from Dallas, when Jesse Newell, Eric Sorrentino and I invade the Lone Star State for the Big 12's annual football media days, Monday and Tuesday.
For those of you interested in reading the latest, here are a few of the best stories out there that, together, sum up what’s going on right now.
• This piece, from The Big Lead takes a look at the conference most desirable programs, in order, should the Big 12 fall apart. Though the Jayhawks are a little ways down the list, you’ll note that KU seems to be in much better shape this time around than it was a year ago.
• Here’s a story, from The San Antonio News-Express that does a nice job of summing up the level of uncertainty the conference is currently facing.
• Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples examines the rest of the country’s vulture mentality in this story from sportsillustrated.com.
• And, The Sporting News, one of the first outlets to get the word out about A&M’s frustration, dives a little deeper into the idea of the Aggies and Sooners bolting the Big 12 for the SEC.
4:04 p.m. Update:
News out of www.orangebloods.com camp today indicates that Arkansas has put out feelers to the Big 12 about a possible union with the conference.
This, a day after Arkansas officials told reporters that they would not be interested in leaving the SEC.
Our own Tom Keegan wrote in a column on Wednesday that the next logical move for the Big 12 would be to invite Notre Dame and Arkansas to join the league, therein creating a powerful conglomerate.
Keegan's report cited information from a source close to Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who is an Arkansas alum and has interest in the Big 12 as it pertains to Texas and his new, state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium.
Thursday afternoon, however, Rich Dalrymple, vice president/public relations for the Dallas Cowboys, contacted the Journal-World on behalf of his boss, to issue the following statement:
"Mr. Jones has not been involved in any discussions recently or within the past several months regarding conference realignment in college athletics. He has emphatically and deliberately made all efforts to steer clear of the recent issues involving realignment. Any sources who provide information to the contrary are absolutely incorrect."
3:13 p.m. Update
Just wanted to keep everyone in the loop on the latest with conference realignment.
Left out of the large portion of the Big 12 sweepstakes, the Pac-10 Conference picked up its 12th member on Thursday, as Utah joined Colorado in becoming the newest members of the storied conference.
This announcement closes the book on the crazy realignment — at least in these two powerhouse conferences — that captivated the nation for the past couple of weeks.
As we all know by now, the Big 12 loses Colorado (to the Pac-10) and Nebraska (to the Big Ten) but moves forward with the 10 remaining members. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State declined invitations from the Pac-10 to remain in the Big 12, making the Pac-10's move to add the Utes a necessity.
Utah, which left the Mountain West, leaves a hole in that conference, which recently made a splash by adding perennial football power Boise State from the WAC.
That leaves the WAC looking to replace Boise and the Mountain West looking to replace Utah. Although the game of conference chess appears to be finished, there's still a pretty heated game of checkers going on at the kids table.
Here's the story from The Associated Press:
SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah accepted an invitation to become the 12th member of the newly expanded Pac-10 Conference on Thursday.
"Today is an absolutely great day to be a Ute," athletic director Chris Hill said before he was interrupted by applause during a news conference.
The room was packed with Utah dignitaries, boosters and dozens of red and white balloon bouquets. University president Michael Young made it official by signing the agreement, bringing another extended round of applause.
The announcement was held at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the Utes enjoyed two undefeated seasons in the past six years. The Utes received invitations to the Bowl Championship Series in 2004 and 2008, but both were at-large bids. Utah is the first team from a non-BCS conference to reach the premier bowls twice.
"I don't really know if you can compare the two, but there's a lot of the same feelings and a lot of the same excitement going on right now," football coach Kyle Whittingham said.
By joining the Pac-10, the Utes' BCS-busting days are ending. After playing one final season in the Mountain West, Utah will join the Pac-10 -- or whatever the expanded league's name will become -- in 2011. There is a guaranteed BCS spot for the Pac-10 winner, but that will mean getting through a schedule of one of college football's most prominent conferences.
"First and foremost, the reason this has happened is because the athletes that we've had at the University of Utah have worked so hard and done so much to put this program on the map," Whittingham said. "That really is where the lion's share of the credit goes to."
Young noted that the Utes are 7-3 against Pac-10 football teams in the last 10 meetings, including wins over Oregon in 2004 and Oregon State four years later during the Utes' two unbeaten runs to the BCS.
The leap takes the Utes from the Mountain West, where national television appearances are rare, to the major markets of the Pac-10. Hill pointed out that representatives from the Rose Bowl were on hand for Thursday's announcement.
The Utes were the only unbeaten team in 2008, and they didn't get a chance to play in the BCS title game. A rout of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl bolstered Utah's claims of being worthy. The Utes ended up finishing No. 2 in the final AP poll -- the school's highest finish.
The Utes also have strong programs in men's and women's basketball, women's gymnastics that could immediately compete in the Pac-10. In sports like baseball and tennis, the Utes will be making a tremendous leap in competition.
4:06 p.m. Update
Take this for what it's worth, but I thought it was interesting to see. Might as well follow this thing out to the end, right?
Utah has been invited by the Pac-10 and a source indicates that the Utes will accept. Makes you wonder where KU stood... not that it matters now.
Sources out west are telling me that if Utah bolts the Mountain West, the MWC might look to Fresno State, Idaho State or Nevada-Reno to replace them. Major conference realignment may have been averted but there are still some dominoes falling. They're just the smaller, more quiet kind.
Also, for those who haven't seen it in other places on the site, here's the audio from Lew Perkins' press conference earlier today. Full audio has been posted.
11:03 a.m. Update:
Well, things are starting to calm down substantially now, as the rumors are being put to bed and the 10 Big 12 schools that made it to the other side are discussing the future — with excitement, no less — and talking about the conference's and their own strategies for moving forward.
That includes Kansas University, which made most of its coaches available yesterday and will make athletic director Lew Perkins available at noon today.
We'll be there and we'll have plenty of reaction and comments from Perkins after the press conference.
Around the league the focus has shifted from mere survival to the specifics of the television dollars that are expected to pour in in the future. Some schools are expressing absolutely joy, others are saying it's not exactly what they had hoped and still others are saying it doesn't matter because all they care about is that the league survived.
That last one is kind of how I feel.
Anyway, while you're waiting for Perkins' press conference, which can be seen Live on Channel 6, here's a few more links to ween you off of this incredible ride we've all been on the last few days. Enjoy and check back later for reaction from Perkins.
The first comes from our own Tom Keegan, who has it on good authority that if the Big 12 ever does look to expand back to 12 in the future, these two schools might be at the top of the list.
Next up, we'll give you a little bit of the specifics regarding the money, both from television and from the penalty payouts levied against Colorado and Nebraska for leaving. Many media outlets have written about this, but here's a great article from the Street & Smith's sports business journal.
Finally, from our buddy Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com, here's a little excerpt from a story of his that outlines what sources have told him about how the Big 12 was actually saved. According to the report, it was more because of a mistake by the Pac-10 than a heroic act by the Big 12. Who knows how accurate this is, but it's at the very least interesting. The best part? It doesn't really matter now since the league is saved and the Big 12 is moving forward.
Here's the meat, again, from Chip Brown at www.orangebloods.com:
Larry Scott and Pac-10 chief operating officer Kevin Weiberg fly from Oklahoma City to College Station Sunday morning. A meeting between Scott, Weiberg and A&M president R. Bowen Loftin and a couple regents is short and not so sweet. Texas A&M tells the Pac-10 officials they are not ready to accept an invitation. The Pac-10, which is actively falling in love with Kansas, takes this as a refused invitation.
Scott and Weiberg fly from College Station to Lubbock and are met with a king's welcome. If Tech's board of regents could have accepted a bid to the Pac-10 right then and there, they would have. Scott and Weiberg leave Lubbock feeling like they've got Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tech. All they need now is Texas, and they can figure out the rest (sub Kansas for Texas A&M)....
And Scott and Weiberg made one critical mistake in the courtship of the Big 12. Other than its somewhat foggy math that a 16-team Pac-10 could readily get to $20 million in TV revenue per school, they wanted to substitute Kansas for Oklahoma State late in the process, according to multiple sources in the Big 12.
Texas was really starting to feel queasy now, sources said. UT officials knew deep down Texas A&M wasn't coming to the Pac-10, despite Bill Byrne's assurances, according to sources. And now Scott and Weiberg were looking to dump Oklahoma State in favor of Kansas. If A&M was a no-show, the Pac-10 would add Utah. Scott was looking to add new TV markets, not stick to the deal that was agreed upon a few days earlier.*
Check out the complete story, a day-by-day recap of the events that unfolded, here.
More to come so stay tuned in to KUsports.com throughout the day.
7:32 p.m. Update:
Here's what you've been waiting for... courtesy of KUsports.com online editor Jesse Newell, who missed most of the fun last week because he was on his honeymoon in Jamaica. Congrats, Jesse. Welcome back!!!
Anyway, here's Newell's Cliff's Notes version of what KU coaches Bill Self and Turner Gill had to say about the Big 12 staying together.
Reports have surfaced that Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are unhappy with the "deal" and that they're reconsidering, but sources told us around 2:30 p.m. today that Tech had committed to the new Big 12.
I think this is all fine and that the Big 12 will move forward as a viable league, as those reports are few and far between.
To calm your fears, read this.
More to come tomorrow so check back with KUsports.com often for more reaction and in case anything big breaks.
2:27 p.m. Update:
Hey all... We're headed up to KU to track down some coaches and hopefully athletic director Lew Perkins sometime soon. For now, here's a list of comments and reactions from some of the more influential people around the state, who have weighed in on this throughout the process.
Governor Mark Parkinson:
“This is great news to Kansas universities, student athletes, fans and our entire state. Today we solidify the future of the Big 12 Conference. In fact, we are in a better position than ever before. Chancellor Gray-Little, President Schulz and the Kansas Board of Regents provided outstanding leadership during this process. It was my pleasure to answer their call for assistance, and I appreciate their continued commitment to the state.”
Regents’ Chair Jill Docking, of Wichita, and Vice Chair Gary Sherrer, of Overland Park:
“We are delighted that an agreement to maintain the Big 12 Conference has been reached. Although there are a variety of details to be ironed out in the coming weeks, the strong commitment of the ten institutions involved ensures a bright future for the Big 12. The Board certainly applauds the collaborative efforts of K-State and KU to preserve the Conference. They share an intense rivalry on the field, which they skillfully re-focused on this successful and cooperative effort. This outcome is a win-win for our universities, their students and alumni, and the state.”
K-State President Kirk Schulz and K-State Athletics Director John Currie:
“Obviously, we are buoyed by the commitments of our existing colleagues and league institutions to preserve the Big 12 Conference and its position as one of the nation's top leagues. This was a very important moment in the history of Kansas State University and the University of Kansas. We both saw the significant value of keeping the Big 12 intact and we worked together diligently to help bring about this outcome. Together, we look forward to new levels of growth and opportunity in the conference. Our sincere appreciation goes to all of our league partners, and certainly Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe and his staff, for their hard work during this process.”
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and KU Athletics Director Lew Perkins:
“The University of Kansas is excited about the bright future of the Big 12 Conference and its ability to provide long-term strength and vitality for the league and its members. The conference going forward offers schedule and travel choices that exhibit a concern for the student-athlete, as well as maintaining the rivalries that mean so much to our fans. This outcome is a result of the hard work and collaboration of many people, including presidents, chancellors and athletics directors, as well as Commissioner Dan Beebe and leaders inside and outside Kansas. It was particularly gratifying to work with our friends at Kansas State, because while we may compete on the field, we both understand the importance of working together to advance the best the interests of the State of Kansas.”
11:40 a.m. Update:
A healthy, positive and upbeat sounding commissioner spoke to reporters this morning, thrilled to announce that the future of the Big 12 is a bright one.
Among the things Beebe discussed:
The last 120 hours or so have been a roller coaster but the whole thing has gone on a lot longer than that. He's glad it's over and he's thrilled with the outcome for all 10 members.
There is no reworked TV deal in place. Reports to that end are false. However, the league has been given "strong verification" that there will be a lucrative TV deal in the near future and that the numbers will approach those that have been reported.
A big reason the Big 12 stayed together? Money, of course, but also strong allegiance and the respect for college sports being a regional venture and that this league best suits this region.
Commitments from the 10 schools are not yet written into a contract but Beebe is not worried. He feels very comfortable and believes the public commitments made by the institutions — 9 of the 10 are in with Texas Tech waiting for a board meeting today — are as good as gold.
Several people reached out to Beebe to help and offer support. Many believed that the death of the Big 12 would not have been good for college athletics.
The five schools that weren't pursued heavily — KU, KSU, MU, ISU and BU — agreed to use further distributions of revenue to entice Texas, OU and A&M to stay in the Big 12. That seems to mean that the revenue will still be split up unequally but all 10 members seem fine with that and OU, Texas and A&M were flattered by the gesture.
Penalties for Nebraska and CU will likely be up to 80% of what they earn in the next two years. The penalties will be paid and that money will be distributed to the remaining 10 members. It's not that CU and Neb. will actually pay, though, just that their earnings will be withheld. Same thing, though. Money's coming in.
Beebe says the Big 12 is not looking to expand "at all" at this time and that he's unsure whether the league will explore having a football championship game. Sounded like he was leaning toward not pursuing it, citing not wanting the title tilt to hurt the chances of a team in line to play for the national title.
Wouldn't commit to not changing the name of the conference. Something the members will have to discuss.
More to come in the form of staff blogs, links and reactions and any word we can get out of KU. Stay tuned in to KUsports.com throughout the day.
10:59 a.m. Update:
Sounds like the money may be guaranteed. According to Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, the new TV deals guarantee $20 million annually for Texas, OU and A&M and between $14 and $17 million for the seven other schools.
Considering KU made just over $11 million during the 2008-09 season, that is a HUGE jump and something that should provide KU with great security in the future. Wow.
10:45 a.m. Update
Dan Beebe press conference about to get under way... Here's the link to listen to it live!
More to come throughout the day.
9:29 a.m. Update:
Just a couple of tidbits of information for those still following the whole realignment deal. And, believe me, if you're not, I don't blame you.
There's still a lot to learn, though, and for those interested in this thing, the next day or two could be just as informative as the last couple of days — maybe not as exciting, though.
Anyway... here's what we know. At 10 a.m. CDT today, the University of Texas will have a news conference to announce its decision to stay in the Big 12 — with 10 teams — and discuss the goings on of the past several days. I'm sure we'll get some answers — maybe not all — regarding (a) why they stayed, (b) what they're getting, (c) how the Big 12 was saved and (d) where we go from here.
That alone should be interesting.
Following that, however, at 11 a.m., Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe will be available to the media for another teleconference. The answers that don't come from Austin, may show up here, as I'm sure Beebe will be more than happy to discuss how things went down and how he saved the day. And why wouldn't he be? This guy, whether of his own doing or not, just pulled off a major upset.
I've been told by the powers that be around me that KUsports.com will carry Beebe's teleconference live right here on the site. So, if you want to listen, check it out.
That's the scoop for now. 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. are your times to remember. After that, we're expecting KU to have some sort of press conference or release some sort of statement this afternoon sometime. So stay tuned in to KUsports.com for that.
In the meantime, here's an interesting piece from ESPN's Andy Katz regarding the rescue of the Big 12 Conference.
I gotta be honest with you... It's almost hard to believe this is all over. Enjoy the day and enjoy the information that surfaces. Stay right here with KUsports.com for analysis and even more links throughout the day.
10:07 p.m. Update
Hey all, one more update for tonight... The Big 12's official website now has confirmed this situation and it also has released a story with quotes and comments from several people around the league.
Thought the feel-good piece might be enjoyable for some of you to read.
Also, I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who posted something kind about my efforts here. I can't say how much hearing such nice things means to me and I am thrilled that you found our site and what I could offer so helpful. Thanks to all of you for your help with this blog, as well as your support and continued patronage of KUsports.com. There's more good stuff where this came from!!!
More to come tomorrow, as we expect to hear from KU and we'll also check in with the Big 12 and UT press conferences. There will be more, but at least we all won't be going crazy.
7:28 p.m. Update:
KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony said moments ago that Kansas would wait until Tuesday to comment on the matter.
Marchiony said KU wanted to wait until Texas and the Big 12 held their Tuesday news conferences before commenting.
Texas has a news conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday. No official word yet on a time for the Big 12's news conference.
But again, UT has confirmed on its official website that it will remain in the Big 12.
6:53 p.m. Update:
Pac-10 confirms things... That's a wrap!!!
Commissioner Larry Scott: “University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay together. We are excited about the future of the Pac-10 Conference and we will continue to evaluate future expansion opportunities under the guidelines previously set forth by our Presidents and Chancellors.”
6:25 p.m. Update
The following is from the UT official site:
AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas' athletics programs will continue competing in the Big 12 Conference, the university announced today.
University President William Powers Jr., Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds and Women's Athletics Director Chris Plonsky will participate in a news conference at 10 a.m. Central, Tuesday, June 15.
My take: Holy cow. This thing may be over.
6:06 p.m. Update:
Things are definitely looking more and more solid by the minute for the survival of the Big 12 Conference.
Chris Dufresne, of the L.A. Times, has posted on his Twitter account that the Pac-10's new plan is to stop expansion at 12 teams. Colorado became the 11th and Dufresne indicates the Pac-10 will target Utah, of the Mountain West, as its 12th.
Plus, just after 5:30 p.m., Dufresne Tweeted the following: "It's over: Larry Scott just confirmed to me Texas has declined offer to joine [sic] Pac-10. he's back in the Bay Area....statement coming soon."
I put a call into the Pac-10 offices a few minutes ago and am waiting for a call back. Hoping to get Scott or deputy commissioner (and former Big 12 chief) Kevin Wieberg.
More to come.
5:33 p.m. Update:
Dallas Morning News reporting what many already have.... The Big 12 appears to be saved and the conference will move forward with the 10 remaining teams. This report indicates more firmly, that Texas A&M — rumored to be flirting with the SEC — is on board.
More to come. Hopefully we'll hear something from KU officials soon, although they've said all along that they will not comment on rumors.
5:30 p.m. Update:
Less than 30 minutes after a report emerged about the Big 12 possibly being interested in Air Force and BYU as replacement schools for Colorado and Nebraska, an Austin radio station (where the report first surfaced) has retracted that information, saying that someone hacked their accounts to post the erroneous info.
And I thought this saga had it all. It seems that now it may.
More to come.
4:56 p.m. Update:
Note: This could be a couple of schools pushing an agenda, or it could be credible. But reports are starting to surface that BYU and Air Force, both of the Mountain West, are being mentioned as possible replacements for Colorado and Nebraska.
We're working hard to track this down and have calls out to the Mountain West.
4:39 p.m. Update:
ESPN is now reporting that the numbers for a reworked television deal for Texas, should it choose to remain in the Big 12, could now reach the $20 to $25 million range.
Some of that would include revenue from a potential Longhorn Network, which UT has been dying to start for some time. But the rest of it comes from a revamped contract for the conference, which maintains that it could actually have more value as 10 teams — minus Colorado (Pac-10) and Nebraska (Big Ten) — than as 12.
The report indicates that a deal is, "in the works," and it's my belief that you're not working on television deals unless you have a conference to reap its benefits.
More to come.
3:27 p.m. Update:
No one within the KU athletic department is saying anything yet but the Kansas Board of Regents has released a statement.
Journal-World reporter Scott Rothschild posted this story with quotes from Jill Docking, the chair of the regents, moments ago.
More to come.
3:13 p.m. Update:
ESPN is finally on board. After going with the headline: "Texas leaning towards Pac-10" all afternoon, the worldwide leader in sports has changed its headline to "Texas leaning toward 10-school Big 12."
What's more, USA Today is reporting that Texas seems likely to stay in the Big 12 and that the most pressing question facing the conference's survival now is what Texas A&M will do.
Will the Aggies go to the SEC or stick with the Big 12? Sources indicated to the Journal-World late last week that an official within one Big 12 school believed that A&M would head to the SEC. However, Gene Stallings, a member of the Texas A&M board of regents, told The Associate Press on Monday that the Big 12 staying together would, "tickle me to death."
And Stallings, who won a national title as the football coach at Alabama, has been a staunch supporter of the SEC throughout this mess.
A&M may still be a key player in all of this, but multiple sources have told me in the last week that the Big 12 (as 10) could move forward without A&M and that the conference would be fine.
That said, I do think that keeping A&M in the fold is the desired outcome.
More to come.
2:34 p.m. Update:
Oh, hey, one more thing... You know that flight we were all tracking feverishly last night? It appears the same plane departed from Austin today and was headed to California. It's not known if the Pac-10 officials were on it or not, nor would it be wise to conclude anything based on a flight schedule, as we learned the hard way.
That said, it's entirely possible that the flight could've gone from Texas to Cali because the Pac-10 could not convince Texas to join and therefore there was no need for Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott to come to Kansas.
More to come.
2:30 p.m. Update:
Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, has changed the headline of his main story yet again. The headline now reads, "Back to life... Big 12" - One can only assume that that means things continue to look good for the Big 12.
As the report has said all along, an announcement out of Texas could come as soon as today.
Of course... It could still not come at all.
1:03 p.m. Update
Check out the latest Twitter updates from Pete Thamel, of the New York Times:
Big 12 AD confirms to the NY Times that Texas is on cusp of committing to Big 12. He said, "The musical chairs will stop."
Just got Dan Beebe on the phone very quickly. When asked if things look good, he said, "We'll keep going." Said he couldn't talk anymore.
Working like crazy to get more info on this. Stay tuned.
12:24 p.m. Update:
Here's the latest in the ongoing saga between Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com and ESPN reporter Joe Schad, both of whom, as it seems, have softened their stances a little bit to end up basically where we are with our story in today's paper.
Brown initially indicated that UT was staying in the Big 12. He's since backtracked a little and now is claiming that UT is open to exploring that option. His latest message board update, posted at 12:24 p.m. CDT, is titled: "UT ready to commit to remodeled Big 12."
Still trying to get word on what exactly that says so stay tuned.
As for ESPN, Schad reported earlier today that Texas' move to the Pac-10 was imminent. He since has gone on ESPN radio and backed down from that report all the way to the point of actually reporting what Brown is saying at Orangebloods. Of course, just moments ago, he was on ESPN News saying he still believes the Pac-10 departure will happen.
Interesting developments to be sure. Still feeling good about our report of the Big 12 staying together. Still working the phones to see what we can find out.
More to come.
10:18 a.m. Update:
The Orange County Register has learned that Pac-10 officials will meet with KU tonight at an undisclosed location.
The meeting comes as no surprise in the wake of Sunday's rumors that Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was en route to Kansas City. His plane never landed at KCI, but that doesn't mean he didn't get to the area somehow, somewhere.
Sources told me late Sunday night that KU's meeting with the Pac-10 was going down but that it was a back-up plan for KU, as it was looking more and more like the Big 12 may stay together.
Conflicting reports on the matter have emerged today, with Orangebloods.com reporting that Texas is staying and ESPN's Joe Schad reporting that a move to the Pac-10 is imminent.
On Sunday, KU officials would not confirm that any meeting of any kind was scheduled to take place on Monday.
More to come.
9:39 a.m. Update:
ESPN just posted a story that indicates that Texas to the Pac-10 seems likely and that Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State would follow.
The report quotes a source as saying Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's plan has "zero" chance of working.
Stay tuned as this thing is now more out of control than ever.
8:58 a.m. Update:
Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, just posted a story citing sources that say Texas is committed to moving forward with a 10-member Big 12 conference.
According to Brown's report, posted early Monday morning, "Sources say Texas is considering a plan by Dan Beebe to hold the Big 12 together with 10 teams. UT officials are expected to announce their decision to remain in the Big 12 as early as Monday."
This news supports the report from a source close to the situation, who told the Journal-World late Sunday night that it looked as if the Big 12 would stay together and that Oklahoma would shift to the North Division.
8:47 a.m. Update:
The Associated Press is reporting that Missouri, the school that some believe started this mess in the first place with its longing for the Big Ten, is pledging its loyalty to the Big 12 Conference.
The latest report out of Columbia quoted Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton as saying via email that MU "will do everything possible to assure the success of the conference."
Missouri officials met around 8 p.m. Sunday night to discuss their options and Deaton briefly met with the media following the meeting.
"We have been a proud member of the Big Six, Big Seven and Big Eight, and we continue to take great pride in the accomplishments of the Big 12," Deaton wrote, according to the AP. "Our position as a member for more than 100 years gives us a great appreciation for the tremendous value of our conference and a vital stake in its future."
More to come.
8:14 a.m. Update:
What began as a lazy Sunday turned into a wild night, with trips to both Kansas City International airport (around 10 p.m.) and the Lawrence Municipal Airport (at 12:45).
The reason? Reports out of Texas indicated that Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was headed, via private plane, to Kansas City to meet with KU officials.
The news seemed to make plenty of sense considering the fact that Sunday evening reports surfaced that Texas A&M had turned down an invitation to join the Pac-10, thus leaving KU as the conference's likely replacement. Those reports were quickly shot down by at least one Texas A&M university spokesperson and the guessing game continued.
About a dozen reporters stalked the waiting area at KCI's smallest terminal but Scott never showed up. We're still unsure if his plane was diverted elsewhere or if he even took off at all.
While we waited, the Journal-World learned that the newest most likely scenario was that the Big 12 would be saved and that the Pac-10 meetings were simply a back-up plan, just in case things changed. In this thing, it seems wise to have at least one back-up plan, perhaps even two or three.
Sources told me late Sunday night that the Big 12 appears closer to a agreement to move forward with the 10 members that remain and, if it in fact did, Oklahoma would shift to the North division, therein opening up the possibility of OU and Texas meeting each year in the conference's football championship.
The source was unsure if the league would move ahead with 10 or 12 teams — perhaps adding two to replace Colorado and Nebraska — and that's where we stand today.
Should be another wild day, as officials from all of the Big 12 institutions likely will be meeting individually and perhaps together to take the next step in this process.
Stay tuned to KUsports.com throughout the day for the latest as it occurs.
10:50 p.m. Update:
It doesn't appear as if Larry Scott's plane is coming to KCI tonight. Keegan and I have been at the private plane terminal for the past hour and there is no sign of Scott or the plane.
The guys behind the desk said that the flight had been taken off the schedule, which is common and typically means the flight never took off.
There's a chance the plane could have been diverted to Lawrence or Topeka but as of now there was no word on whether that was the case.
We've got people on the ground at the Lawrence airport and will keep you updated throughout the night.
9:41 p.m. Update
We just arrived at the airport. A couple other media organizations here as well. Stay tuned.
No plane on the ground yet.
9:26 p.m. Update
Tom and I are on 435-North heading to the airport. About 25 minutes out. He's driving 80 mph to get us there in time and we're listening to Carlos Santana. I'm a fan but judging by the volume levels Tom's a much bigger fan.
Anyway, here's what we've learned while en route. Although the flight tracker web page indicates that the plane has not yet departed, we believe it's in the air because we were told that sometimes the pilots turn those things off and this particular pilot was upset by the presence of media at the Lubbock airport earlier today so he may be trying to avoid another circus at KCI.
Sources have also indicated that Larry Scott is flying to KC tonight expressly to meet with KU AD Lew Perkins.
8:56 p.m. Update
Check out our latest episode of the Spodcasters, where Matt Tait, Tom Keegan and Gary Bedore discuss the latest in this whole mess.
6:46 p.m. Update
Here we go again with yet another development regarding Texas A&M.
Reports indicate that the plane that has been carrying Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott on his tour of Texas and Oklahoma will depart for Kansas City, Mo. at 8:10 p.m. Central time tonight.
Could Scott be coming meet with members of the KU athletic department? I'd bet the farm on it.
For those interested in tracking the flight, KUsports.com has obtained the tracking web site, complete with radar screen and this particular plane's flight history. Notice that the plane has been in Austin, Lubbock, College Station, Oklahoma City.
More to come.
While one Rivals site reported that Texas A&M had turned down the Pac-10's invitation, two Texas-based reporters have since sent messages to their Twitter accounts that contradict that report.
Chip Brown, of Orangebloods.com, Tweets: "Source said A&M has not turned down the Pac-10 and denied Orangebloods.com's report to that effect, which cited a Big 12 AD's confirmation."
Billy Liucci, of TexAgs.com, Tweets: "Just received word from two sources that Aggies have NOT turned down Pac-10 and are still weighing P10/SEC option."
Oh my. No clue which one of these — the initial report or the Twitter message — is closer to being correct. Perhaps neither.
More to come.
Well there you go... Texas A&M's Rivals site, Aggieyell.com, is reporting that A&M has rejected the Pac-10's invitation and plans to head to the SEC.
What this does for Kansas is unclear, but it looks like KU will have a shot at the 16th Pac-10 slot or may be headed toward moving forward with eight other Big 12 teams as a revamped Big 12. Under that scenario, of course, with A&M out, the new Big 12, which would have 9 teams, would have to add a 10th. Memphis? Houston?
Again, a lot of the future of the Big 12 hinges on Texas' decision Tuesday. However, A&M bolting is a blow to that scenario, even if just a small one.
More to come.
We're approaching Sunday evening and things are starting to get quiet. I wouldn't be surprised if we had one or two eye-opening rumors today but it probably won't be more than that.
With that in mind, Tom Keegan and I just discussed where we're at with all of this and came up with the following conclusions. I'll simplify it so you don't have to read through all of the babble. Tom and I are hoping to do a podcast this evening sometime to expand on some of this so keep an eye out for that later tonight.
* What's best for KU?
1. Big 12 stays together - rivalries continue, money grows, everyone's happy
2. Kansas joins Pac-10 - looking better and better if A&M is SEC bound
3. Big 12/Mountain West merger - gaining momentum and not as bad as once believed
* At this point, what's most likely to happen?
1. Big 12 stays together - it's on Texas; if the money's there, they'll stay
2. Big 12/Mountain West merger - MWC would do this today, Big 12 leftovers could do worse
3. Kansas joins Pac-10 - too many things must happen for this to be any higher
4. Kansas engages in discussions with Big East - stay tuned
More to come, as these lists could change and look completely different in a matter of minutes. Check back with KUsports.com throughout the afternoon for the latest and later tonight for the podcast.
Bleacher Report's Josh Bennett has an interesting piece on why the Pac-10 will go to 16, why Utah is the perfect fit and why Utah to the Pac-10 is a done deal. To call this interesting is putting it mildly.
This much we can conclude... if Utah's going to the Pac-10 as the 16th school, the four Big 12 south schools are headed west and A&M is headed to the SEC.
All of this — and, really, any of it — is far, far, far from a done deal but this is just another interesting take.
More to come.
A television report from KTBS in Texarkana, Ark., indicated Saturday night that Oklahoma quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel had some news on the Sooners' future.
Prior to a banquet dinner, Heupel told a television reporter that he had no idea where OU was headed and that he, along with coaches across the country, was interested in finding out sooner rather than later.
Then, during that same banquet, the emcee put Heupel on the spot in front of everyone, at which point, according to KTBS, Heupel responded with, "Funny you should ask, I just got a text from our running backs coach that said, 'We're going to the SEC West.'"
No idea why Heupel would change his tune so quickly if that text did not actually come. However, it's hard to imagine that this thing is a done deal.
If it is, however, A&M and OU could be headed to the SEC West, which would almost certainly inspire Texas to head to the Pac-10, likely with Kansas in tow.
More to come.
Not a lot happening in the last hour or so, so here's a column from ESPN that discusses the whole realignment topic with a former SEC commissioner.
It's been up for a couple of days but in case you missed it it's a good read.
While we're chasing rumors and obsessing over speculation, it's important to remember that there are some pretty smart people out there with general opinions on this whole thing, good or bad.
Here's another good one from Chip Brown that addresses nearly every issue impacting the Texas schools and their decision to go Pac-10, SEC or Big 12.
Among the things it says: SEC still trying to woo OU; A&M appears committed to the SEC; Despite well-intentioned efforts by Texas law makers, it may be too late to stop the momentum.
More to come.
Hold the phone. Chip Brown, of orangebloods.com, is reporting that Dan Beebe's efforts to speed up the renegotiations of the Big 12's television contracts may be working.
Brown said that three sources at Big 12 schools have indicated that the potential TV deal would be on par with what the SEC offers — $17 million per school annually — and that could entice the remaining 10 to stay together and move forward as the Big 12, potentially as just 10 or by adding two teams... maybe Memphis?
I've mentioned this before, but Brown's reports largely have been right on the money throughout this entire fiasco. One source told me that Brown has the best source in the nation, though I'm not sure who that could be with this being such a wide-ranging issue. Still, it's worth noting that this could be a serious possibility.
Brown points out that Orangebloods.com was told by a top source: "The winds to keep the Big 12 together with 10 teams are getting stronger."
Also still in the realm of possibilities is KU to the Pac-10. This concept has grown hot and cold faster than you can blink during the past few days, but at least one report has it leaning towards hot again. It indicates that KU has moved firmly ahead of Utah as the school that would join the Pac-10 in place of Texas A&M should the Aggies hold out and/or bolt for the SEC.
Crazy stuff for a Sunday. More to come, I'm sure.
Good morning, it's time for another round of realignment fun.
So far things have been pretty quiet, but I thought I'd start the day off with a couple of quick notes.
For starters, a report has surfaced that FedEx may be willing to pay a BCS league $10 million to add Memphis. If there's any truth to that, this shouldn't be a hard sell. Good market, great basketball program and a good city.
At this point, I'm guessing there might be a major race to land Memphis, anywhere from the SEC and ACC to the Big Ten and possible revamped Big 12.
Speaking of the Big 12, KUsports.com confirmed reports of a Saturday meeting between the five Big 12 schools that would remain should the five south schools bolt as we expect.
Sources told me late Saturday that there could then be a movement to absorb the Mountain West into the Big 12 and move forward under the Big 12 name with new teams. Adding the Mountain West's 10 schools to the five remaining Big 12 teams — KU, K-State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor — would give the league 15 teams. One source told me that Houston or SMU could be the 16th team, but with this Memphis news surfacing that might become a better direction to go.
For those who don't know, here's a list of the Mountain West schools:
San Diego State
More to come as the day moves forward. Right now, I gotta go mow the yard before the rain hits Lawrence.
12:29 a.m. Update:
So much for a slow Saturday. Although nothing major happened there were plenty of rumors to keep up with. Hope we got to most of them.
Looks like everything has gone to bed for the night so I'll do the same.
From everything we're hearing, though, Sunday could be just as busy. I doubt anything major will happen, with it being a Sunday, but I'm sure the rumor mill will be cranking yet again.
We'll be here all day to bring you the latest and we'll be chasing stories throughout the day to see what's happening with regard to KU.
Before I go, and in case I don't wake up super early, I'll leave you with one more report about Texas A&M's move to the SEC gaining momentum, this one courtesy of Chuck Carlton at the Dallas Morning News.
See you in the morning.
10:34 p.m. Update
Very interesting report on NBC Sports that indicates that Texas A&M does in fact have the backing to move to the SEC.
This thing is getting crazy. KU may be loaded with options in the near future if all of this is true. Wow.
8:15 p.m. Update:
One report that came across the wire in the last hour or so indicated that officials from five Big 12 schools — the five that would remain affiliated with the Big 12 should the south schools decide to join Colorado in the Pac-10 — met by teleconference Saturday afternoon to discuss a way to move forward together.
The Mountain West Conference indicated earlier in the day that it had serious interest in Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri and, all along, that certainly has been a possible landing point for all three schools. This latest report, however, seemed to hint that the remaining Big 12 schools, still under the Big 12 flag, might be interested in absorbing some or all of the Mountain West.
An interesting development, to be sure. One that could lead to the survival of the Big 12 Conference without the help of the Texas schools. Wow!!!
4:43 p.m. Update:
Think KU's in a bad position? Try being Baylor. Not only were the Bears left out of the Big 12 South's plans to move to the Pac-10, but now a report on ESPN's bottom line indicates that TCU officials plan to lobby (that's right, as in political lobbying) against the Mountain West Conference extending an invitation to Baylor, should the Big 12 fall apart completely.
4:16 p.m. Update:
More information still out of the Texas A&M camp, via ESPN... This one brings back a little hope for KU fans.
More to come.
4:08 p.m. Update:
More good stuff from Kirk Bohls, as the Austin American-Statesman. Let's face it, right now, Texas, particularly what happens in College Station, is the center of the universe as far as KU fans are concerned. So I figure you can't get enough info from there.
This latest report doesn't paint a pretty picture for KU to the Pac-10.
By Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry will have a decisive say in which conference his alma mater, Texas A&M, joins and he probably prefers the Aggies link with Texas and other Big 12 schools and accept invitations to the Pac-10 Conference, two long-time political figures told the Statesman.
“Anybody who thinks Rick Perry is not going to sign off on the final decision is fooling himself,” one of the sources said. “A&M will go where the governor wants them to go.”
The second source said Perry, a former Texas A&M yell leader, does not want to do anything to disrupt his re-election plans and consequently might try to push the Aggies toward the Pac-10 to calm the political waters. Perry has said he’d prefer to keep all the Texas schools together.
“Perry’s political team has told him that the one thing that could beat him (in the November election) is to get involved in a football fight,” the long-time political observer in Austin said Saturday. “He doesn’t want to tick off Texas Tech and the Longhorns. The least amount of political downside is for A&M to join the Pac-10.”
That source also said he thinks the Aggies will ultimately side with the Longhorns and accept Pac-10 invitations, probably on Tuesday when the University of Texas board of regents meets in Austin. No meeting of A&M regents has been set, but the Texas Tech board is also meeting Tuesday.
“I think the Aggies are playing it coy,” the second source said. “I don’t see A&M going away from its conference rivals and end those rivalries." [end]
More to come.
3:49 p.m. Update
Here's more from Kirk Bohls at the Austin American-Statesman. It appears that Texas A&M may be in a situation with the SEC like KU is with the Mountain West.
I'll spell it out:
A&M has interest in the SEC but, according to Bohls' report, does not have an invitation.
Similarly, the MWC would love to have KU but KU might not be interested in joining.
The latest report indicates that without an invitation to the SEC, A&M may feel compelled to follow the masses and join the Pac-10. The one reason that might not happen — at least not initially — is because A&M clearly is tired of living in the shadows of UT. Making the move to the Pac-10, at least this week, would only add to that. Of course, as Nebraska pointed out oh so clearly, this thing isn't about feelings or grudges, it's about cold, hard cash. And when you're talking in those terms you don't want to be left on the doorstep.
Here are the nuts and bolts from Bohls' latest report, as well as a link to another that only adds more certainty to the idea that the Big 12 is dead.
By Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman:
Texas A&M does not have a firm invitation to join the Southeastern Conference and may not receive one at all, a very highly-placed school official at one of the Big 12 schools expected to leave for the Pac-10 Conference no later than Tuesday told the Statesman on Saturday afternoon.
“They don’t have an offer,” said the high-profile figure, who is heavily involved in these conference realignment negotiations. “They do not have an offer. They can’t.”
The school official said, “I don’t think they are risking anything (by A&M’s indecisiveness), not if they’re looking (at the SEC).”
He confirmed that is because A&M knows it has a solid invitation to join the Pac-10 along with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott is in the process of visiting those Big 12 schools between now and Tuesday when the board of regents for Texas and Texas Tech meet in separate meetings.
“He’s trying to hit everybody,” the source said of Scott. “He’s among some of the schools now. He won’t be here on Tuesday.”
If A&M were to try to secure an invitation to the SEC, the source said the Pac-10 would seriously consider Kansas. [end]
And the saga continues... It seems like it's going to be a long few days of waiting and wondering for KU.
More to come.
2:27 p.m. Update
Interesting to note that a newspaper in San Antonio is reporting that there is no deadline for Texas A&M to make its decision regarding the Pac-10 or the SEC.
That could change today when Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott delivers the invitation, but, as of now, the Aggies appear to have no timeline pushing them to decide. That also could change if KU continues to work its way into the mix and push the Pac-10 to grab them before A&M decides.
Another note of interest from the Austin American-Stateman indicates that originally A&M to the SEC was part of a packaged deal — Texas and Texas A&M both go. Since UT appears to be a couple of days from joining the Pac-10, that deal is off. But the Kirk Bohls of the American-Stateman reports that an SEC source told him that A&M is "a school worth getting."
Clearly, that's good news for KU, provided it has any validity.
12:18 p.m. Update
Well, here we are at noon on a Saturday and we have yet to hear much about conference realignment.
In national circles, the World Cup is dominating the talk this morning, as the U.S. national team prepares to open play in South Africa against England at 1:30 p.m. today.
By the standards set during the last couple of days, it's been a slow day. But that doesn't mean that things aren't being floated around.
Rumors and reports continue to indicate that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will receive official invitations to join the Pac-10 this weekend. The reports further indicate that those four schools could be ready to accept those invitations as soon as Tuesday, with some reporting that at least one or two of the four schools have already made the decision to do so.
What's more, the Pac-10 is not messing around with all this, as commissioner Larry Scott is actually flying to Oklahoma and Texas to hand deliver the invitations. Call me crazy, but that sure seems to be a lot more involved than we've seen from Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe, who has seemed to have less and less control over all this mess as the days have gone by.
Here's the short but sweet info from Chuck Carlton, of The Dallas Morning News, which includes a blurb about the Pac-10 being ready to move quickly to land Kansas if Texas A&M shows any pause whatsoever.
The thing we all must remember is that the Pac-10 most likely will be inviting A&M to join while Scott is in Texas this weekend. In short, if the Aggies come to their senses and realize that they don't want to be left out either, KU could be back to square one. That's why you can bet the farm that KU officials including Lew Perkins — and hopefully Bill Self — will be reaching out to the Pac-10 this weekend while all of this is going down.
The Oregonian, which covers Pac-10 schools Oregon and Oregon State, has more on all this here.
The paper indicates that the 16th and final spot in the new conference will be Texas A&M or Kansas, leaving Baylor and Utah out of the mix as well as Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State to fend for themselves.
Closer to home, one Big 12 source told our own Tom Keegan that Stanford, the mightiest Pac-10 school in terms of academics and certainly a respectable one in athletics, has made a recent push for the league to bypass A&M and go directly with Kansas.
You can bet Tom and I will be chasing that story the rest of the weekend, seeing if we can shed any more light on that being a possibility.
Finally, word from Moutain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson indicate that the MWC is dying to add whatever Big 12 schools are left after all of this shakes out.
"The Mountain West wants to be a national player and continue to grow in that realm," Thompson said in a conference call Friday. "We are extremely interested in BCS automatic qualification. We are simply trying to get to the level where each and every year a Mountain West team is playing in a BCS bowl game."
Two different MWC sources told me on Thursday that this was, in fact, the case and that the league would be very aggressive in going after such teams if and when the Big 12 falls apart.
With the MWC adding Boise State on Friday, the conference took a step forward. But KU fans must remember that just because the Mountain West wants Kansas doesn't mean Kansas wants the Mountain West — at least not as a first option.
That's all for now but check back throughout the day as I'll be here to update you with any notable links and news that might be of interest.
In summary, it looks like UT, Texas Tech, OU and Okie State are ready to follow Colorado to the Pac-10. An announcement is expected on Tuesday. At this point, I'd be surprised if this didn't happen.
That leaves KU the weekend to sell itself to the Pac-10, which shouldn't be hard to do with A&M stalling because of its interest in the SEC.
I'm sure some stuff will happen over the next two days and I'll be checking in as often as possible when it does. Most likely, however, it will be in the form of rumors so I'm also planning to rest up so I can be ready to hit it hard again Monday morning.
Stay in touch with KUsports.com throughout the weekend for any major movement and get ready to get serious again come Monday. Who knows, maybe KU will jump the rest of them and become the second team into the Pac-10 with an announcement Monday instead of the last team in on Wednesday or Thursday.
More to come.
11:55 p.m. Update
Overall, a rather quiet evening. Figured as much for a Friday night. Still, you know the wheels are turning in Big 12 country and that everyone who isn't already secure is working overtime to find their next home.
The most recent rumor has UT, Texas Tech, OU and Okie State ready to follow Colorado to the Pac-10. An announcement is expected on Tuesday. At this point, I'd be surprised if this didn't happen.
That leaves KU the weekend to sell itself to the Pac-10, which shouldn't be hard to do with A&M stalling.
I'm sure some stuff will happen over the weekend and I'll be checking in as often as possible when it does. Most likely, however, it will be in the form of rumors so I'm also planning to rest up so I can be ready to hit it hard again Monday morning.
Stay tuned in to KUsports.com throughout the weekend for any major movement and get ready to get serious again come Monday. Who knows, maybe KU will jump the rest of them and become the second team into the Pac-10 with an announcement Monday instead of the last team in on Wednesday or Thursday.
Thanks for all the help and contributions to this blog this week. Great stuff!!!!
3:55 p.m. Update
Jayhawk nation, your prayers have been answered. Conference USA is preparing to "compete for the remaining Big 12 members if the meltdown continues to a full implosion." That's according to a statement from East Carolina Athletic Director Terry Holland.
OK, so maybe that's not your prayer. But hey, someone wants the Big 12 leftovers and isn't afraid to say so.
In other news, The Oklahoman is reporting that Oklahoma has decided to leave the Big 12 Conference, but will wait for Texas to make the formal announcement.
ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will also be leaving for the Pac-10 (or does that make it the Pac-15?), once Texas announces its intentions.
3:35 p.m. Update
Dan Beebe will hold a teleconference at 4:20 p.m. We'll live blog it for you here.
The Big Ten Network will air the 5 p.m. Nebraska press conference and stream it live on www.bigtennetwork.com.
3:27 p.m. Update
Iowa State officials have issued an update to alumni and fans via their website, saying how "deeply disappointed" they are in Colorado and Nebraska for leaving the Big 12. Here's an excerpt:
In the past two days, the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska have announced that they are leaving the Big 12 Conference for other affiliations. We are deeply disappointed in their decisions, and we are concerned about how those decisions impact Iowa State University.
Over the next several days, the presidents and directors of athletics of the Big 12 member institutions will be discussing options and potential initiatives that we may take in order to move forward in light of the Colorado and Nebraska decisions. Be assured, we will continue to do everything in our power to represent the best interests of Iowa State University in these discussions; it is also important to understand that actions taken by other member institutions are beyond our control. Read the full letter.
3:16 p.m. Update
Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson has given a statement to KUSports.com's Scott Rothschild expressing his confidence in KU and K-State leaders:
"The University of Kansas and Kansas State University are world-class institutions with premier academic, research and athletic programs. Although it appears uncertain whether they will stay in the Big XII or align with a different athletic conference, I am confident that Chancellor Gray-Little and President Schulz, working with the Board of Regents, will make a choice that's in the best interests of their student-athletes, their world-class universities and our state."
2:41 p.m. Update
Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are ready to join the Pac-10 as early as Tuesday, according to @ESPNEWS.
Orangebloods.com is reporting that four Big 12 South teams are "locked and loaded to join the Pac-10" and that a formal announcement date is set. The exclusion of Texas A&M in that list means a possible move to the SEC for the Aggies, which could open up a spot for KU in the Pac-10.
Also, according to @Huskers, the Nebraska press conference is now going to happen at 5 p.m.
2:07 p.m. Update
Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman addresses Board of Regents and requests permission to allow NU to apply for application to the Big Ten. Perlman indicates that the Big Ten has basically said that it would accept NU's application.
Doesn't get much more telling than that.
Several media outlets are also reporting that NU has officially accepted an invitation from the Big Ten. More to come, as there are now rumors of a 4:45 p.m. press conference.
1:53 p.m. Update
Chip Brown, of orangebloods.com, is reporting via Twitter that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are prepared to join the Pac-10 once Nebraska to the Big Ten becomes official.
Brown, who has been right about nearly everything he's reported in the past week or so, also says that Texas will announce its plans to head west after a meeting with the regents on Tuesday.
One note of interest regarding these reports: No mention of Texas A&M.
More to come as that official Nebraska announcement has to be coming any minute now.
1:35 p.m. Update
610 Sports radio in Kansas City is reporting that Missouri athletic officials are meeting at the moment and that they will speak to the media at a news conference this afternoon.
What more the Tigers can say at this point is anybody's guess. It's been reported that MU does not have an invitation to the Big Ten and it seems likely that it will not receive one.
With that in mind, MU, like Kansas, is probably exploring all options, not the least of which is remaining in the Big 12.
More to come.
1:11 p.m. Update
Could this be good news for the future of the Big 12 and Kansas?
CNBC has released an article that indicates that the kind of revenue the Pac-10 is discussing regarding a television network for a 16-team conference might not be as much as they're saying. That alone — along with any perceived inaccurate persuasions — could be enough to make the remaining Big 12 schools think twice about heading west.
12:45 p.m. Update
At this point, I'm not sure that Nebraska's expected announcement that they're headed to the Big Ten has much of an impact on how KU, the Big 12 or the Texas schools will proceed. I'm pretty sure all three parties have been moving forward as if NU was out since Wednesday.
Still, those of you interested in following along with the Nebraska Board of Regents' 1 p.m. meeting, can do so here.
More to come.
12:36 p.m. Update
Here's a look at the latest information:
• The Associated Press is reporting that the University of Texas regents have called a meeting for Tuesday to discuss the school's conference future. It's been reported that they may be poised to make a decision at that time.
• Chip Brown, of Rivals.com site orangebloods.com, has reported that SEC Commissioner Mike Slive has offered to move two current SEC schools — Alabama and Auburn — to the SEC East to accommodate the potential inclusion of Texas and Texas A&M in the SEC West. If this is true, SEC probably just passed the Big Ten as the second most aggressive conference out there. Heck, the Big Ten could even be fourth, now that the Mountain West has landed Boise State.
• Something that just occurred to me: With the addition of Boise State strengthening the Mountain West, that could entice Utah to stay put. What might that mean? Well, if any of those Big 12 south schools rumored to the Pac-10 decide to go elsewhere, that opens up a spot for KU in the Pac-10. Considering the fact that the Pac-10 is on record as saying it would look at Utah or KU as alternate options, Utah staying in the MWC would be great news for Kansas.
12:12 p.m. Update
Another team and another conference have made the next splash in the whole conference realignment deal.
ESPN News just reported that Boise State has agreed to leave the WAC and join the Mountain West.
Not sure what kind of impact this has for KU or the Big 12 — hopefully not much. But it's definitely interesting to note and it definitely adds to the MWC's football pedigree.
I talked with a couple of Mountain West officials yesterday and both said that the conference would be very aggressive from here on out. Clearly, this move demonstrates that they were serious.
I know KU wants the MWC to be a worst-case scenario, but if the MWC brings something substantial to the table, KU has to listen.
The thing this tells me more than anything else is that we're in for another crazy day of realignment movement. Boise likely made this move out of the same urgency that Colorado felt in heading to the Pac-10. Boise likes the MWC and had interest in ending up there. But if the Big 12 dissolves and the MWC took the leftovers, Boise may have been left out in the cold. Not now. Boise State is in a bigger conference and that conference is now one step closer to becoming a BCS conference.
Here's the official release from the Mountain West Conference:
The Mountain West Conference announced today that Boise State University has accepted an invitation to join the MWC as its 10th member institution, effective July 1, 2011. "We are pleased and excited to welcome Boise State University to the Mountain West Conference," said Commissioner Craig Thompson. "Since our inception just 11 short years ago, the Mountain West has experienced tremendous success, and the addition of Boise State will further enhance that strength. The MWC continues to strategize regarding potential membership scenarios and bringing Boise State into the Conference is an important part of that evolution."
"The invitation to join the Mountain West Conference reflects the excellence that Boise State University has demonstrated academically and athletically," said Boise State President Robert Kustra. "It will be a privilege to compete and partner with such a successful group of member institutions. This move is in the best interests of Boise State's future, and the university is excited to be part of one of the nation's most outstanding conferences."
The Mountain West Conference was founded with eight members in 1998. Boise State is the second institution to join the Mountain West since that time; TCU became a member in 2005.
More to come.
11:44 a.m. Update
KU women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson offered up an interesting analogy for all this conference realignment talk. Henrickson referred to the situation as a "roller coaster."
"We tell freshmen all the time to try to stay off the roller coaster," Henrickson said. "Well that's kind of hard right now because you go to bed one night hearing something, reading something and you wake up and it's different and everybody's texting you and panicking."
Henrickson, who has been through realignment talks twice before — once as an assistant when Virginia Tech moved into the Big East and once as a head coach when Va. Tech left the Big East for the ACC — said the current situation reminded her more of the first time because there's so much uncertainty and so many parties involved.
"When we went Big East to ACC, we had a good home and we knew we were going to have a good home, whatever happened," she said. "I don't sleep quite as well at night right now. But, you know, you've gotta control what you can control and recruit like crazy. We've got a lot of people here (for elite camp) from Texas saying they want the league like it is, and we want the same thing."
Asked if she agreed with KU men's coach Bill Self, who said Thursday that landing anywhere other than a major conference was "not an option," Henrickson didn't hesitate to answer.
"We all feel that way," she said. "Absolutely not. With what this institution has, what this athletic department has, what we have already done and what we're on the verge of being able to do, absolutely not."
One interesting note that has surfaced has indicated that if the Big 12 makes it through the weekend without any more departures, the outlook of keeping the league together increases significantly.
The conference's remaining athletic directors are rumored to be meeting in Dallas this weekend. Getting them all together in the same room certainly will help with the communication but as both Lew Perkins and chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little have pointed out in recent days, this issue may be decided at the chancellor/president level and not by the ADs.
More to come.
11:17 a.m. Update
Nothing new happening at the moment, but here are a few interesting notes we've tracked down.
• Colorado associate AD said CU would be open to scheduling Nebraska in non-conference games going forward. CU and NU have played each other in football on the Friday following Thanksgiving for the past several years and it looks like that tradition — not that anyone cares about traditions anymore — might not be dead yet.
• Nebraska officials have said that they expect today's 1 p.m. meeting to take around an hour. After that, NU athletic director Tom Osborne is expected to speak.
• ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit said the following this morning on ESPN News, a clear indication of what greed can get you. "(Big Ten Commissioner) Jim Delany started all this but the Pac-10 has kind of stolen the show. If the Big Ten can't land Notre Dame now, it finishes a distant second to the Pac-10 in this whole conference realignment thing."
• Speaking of CU and the Pac-10, Colorado officials have said they're not sure what the penalty for leaving the Big 12 will be — most likely because if the Big 12 dissolves there might not be anyone left to collect the penalty payment, which is 50 percent of revenue earned while still in the conference with two years notice and a sliding scale of 70, 80 and 90 percent if less than two years notice is given. One interesting thing that has been noted is that CU plans to have discussions with the Pac-10 about its new conference paying some of that penalty.
10:03 a.m. Update
Interesting stuff from former Texas A&M football coach, R.C. Slocum, who now works as a special adviser to A&M's president.
It's been reported that A&M is one of the Big 12 schools in the worst shape financially, with debt piling up fast and furious. With that in mind, Slocum's comments make plenty of sense and may tip the Aggies' hand just a bit.
"You look at the level of funding that all programs need to have, and it's a business decision that universities now have to make," Slocum told The Associated Press.
Slocum said any decision A&M makes will be based purely on its financial impact, and not on more intangible elements, like preserving traditions and rivalries.
I'm not sure whether this indicates which conference the Aggies will wind up in. But it does seem to tell us something — they'll be aligning with the highest bidder.
9:14 a.m. Update
OK, so by now we surely know one thing: This whole deal is about money, right?
Well then... Who has more of it than Oklahoma State alum T. Boone Pickens? Very few people, I'm guessing. And even fewer people who have such a great interest in college athletics.
With that in mind, here's a look at Pickens' thoughts about expansion and realignment. I'm not saying what he says/wants will ultimately matter, but maybe there's some sort of Pickens Broadcasting Network on the horizon that could help save the Big 12. Hey, Ted Turner did it.
More to come as we tick toward 1 p.m., when Nebraska is expected to have a news conference to announce its intentions to head to the Big Ten.
Original Post, 6 a.m.
Good morning, Big 12 fans. How much further will your conference fall apart today?
If the last two days are any indication, the answer could be a lot.
First Nebraska was confirmed to be headed to the Big Ten, an announcement we’re expecting to hear today from NU officials. Then, Colorado jumped the Big Red by becoming the first team to bolt the Big 12, a move CU made official on Thursday.
So which will be the next school to make a move? Reports Thursday indicated that Oklahoma State was ready to become the next school to accept an offer from the Pac-10, but the Cowboys softened on that stance as the day went on. OSU now appears to be back in the boat with the rest of the teams in the south, who are considering to move to the Pac-10 in unison or to head their separate ways.
OK, now that that’s clear — it is, right? — let’s kick off the day with a couple of reports that surfaced late Thursday night.
The first comes from the Austin American Statesman regarding the future of the Pac-10. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott told reporters that the league would not mind stopping at 11 schools, now that it has added Colorado. Don’t buy it. Although they’ve remained rather innocent throughout all this, the Pac-10 has had a calculated plan for expansion and has been executing it quietly and to perfection. These latest comments from Scott are likely just a way of putting pressure on the Big 12 schools who are still trying to decide what to do.
Feeling the most heat might be A&M, which has serious designs on at least exploring what the SEC has to offer. That could be to KU’s benefit, as a move by A&M to the SEC would open the door for KU to slide into its spot in the Pac-10 merger. The Pac-10 has been rumored to be interested in KU or Utah (seriously), as alternates to the five schools it outlined originally to join Colorado.
As far as KU’s concerned, not only should the Jayhawks be talking to the Pac-10, Big Ten and Big 12 to find out which conference will have them, they should also be talking to the SEC, encouraging them to take — or at least stall — A&M.
This Dallas Morning News report spells out the scenario that could have Texas and Texas A&M, bitter rivals for decades, going their separate ways.
For every one of these reports and rumors there’s at least two or three others that refute what these are saying.
That’s why we’re here. Stay tuned in to KUsports.com throughout the day for the latest reports from around Big 12 country.
Will today follow in Wednesday and Thursday’s footsteps? Or will things quiet down for a little while?
More to come.
3:51 p.m. Update
Well, throw another wrinkle into the fire. KUsports.com's Tom Keegan has reported that Lew Perkins will resign at the end of next school year.
The timing of this announcement, although curious, may very well be good news for Kansas in terms of conference realignment. This is purely opinion, but there's no way that Perkins would step down without knowing that KU was going to be taken care of in all this mess. He loves the university too much to do that and KU officials need his influence too greatly to force him to do so.
It should be interesting to see where we go from here. To say the least.
More to come.
2:52 p.m. Update
Warning: Fasten your seat belts!!!
KCTV 5 in Kansas City is reporting that Texas and Texas A&M are petitioning to join the Big Ten, while Oklahoma is petitioning to work its way into the SEC.
Read the full report here.
Needless to say, should there be any truth to any of this, it would be outstanding news for KU as well as Kansas State, who likely then could work their way into the Pac-10. That's all speculation, for now, though.
More to come.
2:33 p.m. Update
Here's the latest from Kansas State, thanks to KTKA 49, our sister station in Topeka.
Still awaiting any kind of reaction from KU officials. For now, though, here's the word from K-State:
Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz told 49 News on Thursday that he was sorry to see Colorado leave the Big 12 Conference.
Out of town and speaking by phone to 49 News Manhattan bureau reporter Lindsey Elliott, Schulz said he had heard rumors of a possible Colorado departure for awhile. He said he was sorry to see them go but wished them the best of luck.
Schulz told Elliott that, although he had no specific knowledge of it, he believed Nebraska would announce its departure from the Big 12 for the Big Ten on Friday.
As for the remaining schools, Schulz said he was confident that they would remain in the Big 12.
1:21 p.m. Update
Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe just released his first statement on Colorado's departure:
"The Big 12 Conference has been informed that the University of Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the Pacific-10 Conference. I continue to work through the process that was agreed upon last week by our Board of Directors to address membership issues, and am working tirelessly towards the long-term viability of the Big 12."
More to come.
1:06 p.m. Update
A source in the Oklahoma State athletic department has told The Oklahoman that Oklahoma State is ready to become the next team from the Big 12 to accept an invitation from the Pac-10.
The source told The Oklahoman that it's a "done deal," and that it's "just a matter of time."
An announcement could come as early as today.
Meanwhile, reports have surfaced that indicate that Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton has been in contact with University of Texas officials to discuss Colorado's move to the Pac-10.
It now appears that, by the end of the day, we could have a good idea of how many of the Big 12 teams invited by the Pac-10 would be willing to go. Right now, all signs point to all six of them — Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech — being ready and willing to jump ship.
Kansas University athletic officials said around 11:30 a.m. that they did not yet have a comment on this news but that one may come later today.
A call to the KU chancellor's office has yet to be returned.
Stay logged on to KUsports.com for more information as it becomes available. And hold on to your hats.
11:25 a.m. Update
So much for an announcement from Colorado. The Pac-10 Conference has announced that Colorado has agreed to leave the Big 12 and join the Pac-10.
More on this later, but it appears that Colorado now officially can call Arizona, Cal, Stanford and UCLA its conference brothers.
Here's the official release from Pac-10 headquarters:
The Pacific-10 Conference announced today that the University of Colorado at Boulder has accepted an invitation to join the Conference as its 11th member, the first new member since July 1, 1978.
"This is an historic moment for the Conference, as the Pac-10 is poised for tremendous growth. The University of Colorado is a great fit for the Conference both academically and athletically and we are incredibly excited to welcome Colorado to the Pac-10," said Commissioner Larry Scott.
"On behalf of The University of Colorado students, faculty, alumni and fans, we are proud to accept this invitation from the Pac-10 and join the most prestigious academic and athletic conference in the nation," said Philip P. DiStefano, chancellor of CU-Boulder.
"The University of Colorado is a perfect match - academically and athletically - with the Pac-10," said University of Colorado President Bruce D. Benson, "our achievements and aspirations match those of the universities in the conference and we look forward to a productive relationship."
Commissioner Scott, Chancellor DiStefano, President Benson, CU Board of Regents Chairman Steve Bosely and CU Athletics Director Mike Bohn and others will hold an official press conference at noon on Friday at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colo.
10:32 a.m. Update
Well, that didn't take long.
Multiple media organizations are now reporting that Colorado will make an announcement that it has accepted an offer to join the Pac-10 in the next day or two.
ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that Colorado will announce that it has accepted an invitation from the Pac-10 at 11 a.m. Central today. That's 10 a.m. Mountain time, which shows, in no small way, how eager the Buffs were to make this move. The Boulder Daily Camera reports that the announcement will come at 11 a.m. Mountain time on Friday.
Regardless of the discrepancy in the time frame, the reports appear to be solid. If this holds true, that's two Big 12 North teams gone in two days and that puts the future of the Big 12 in peril.
More to come.
9:40 a.m. Update
Now that Nebraska has hinted that it intends to bolt for the Big Ten — a fact confirmed across the country by dozens of sources and expected to be announced officially on Friday — the rest of the Big 12 Conference enters into full-on scramble mode.
Some, like Texas, are sitting pretty and know it. There's no shortage of conferences who would love to add the Longhorns and the Longhorns know it. So their sense of scrambling is more about sitting back and picking where they want to end up.
Others, like Kansas and Kansas State, are forced to use every number in the Rolodex to try to find out if there's somewhere they can land. My gut feeling is that there will be. Conversations with multiple sources over the last few days lead me to believe that KU will land in a major conference when all of this is over. Which one remains to be seen, however, and there's still a lot that has to happen before we know for sure.
With that in mind, let's move on to what we do know. Here's an early look at today's rumblings from around the conference.
• It seems that Colorado University already has received an invite to the Pac-10, a move that shocks absolutely nobody. There was some speculation that the recent news of Colorado's failing APR scores would hurt the Buffs in their quest to crawl into a conference with the likes of academic super powers Stanford and Cal, but that, evidently, is not the case. Several folks are reporting that CU has received an offer to head west and if those reports are true Colorado is as good as gone.
• While sources are indicating that CU has a firm invitation, others are reporting that invitations for five other Big 12 schools are not far behind. ESPN.com's Ted Miller reports that a source familiar with the negotiations has said that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all could receive Pac-10 invitations in the near future. That, clearly, would lead to the end of the Big 12 as we know it and would put the pressure on the five schools that remain — Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor — to find a quick solution.
• One of the more interesting wrinkles to come out of all of this is the stance of Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who has been an avid supporter of the Big 12 throughout the past two weeks. Castiglione told the Tulsa World on Wednesday that he did not believe the Big 12 was dead and that he hoped the league could survive, even if that meant moving forward as an 11- or 10-member conference. In the end, however, Castiglione conceded that Oklahoma, which has garnered plenty of interest from the SEC in recent weeks, would do whatever it takes to stick with Texas. Texas, sources say, has been exploring a way out of the Big 12 and into the Pac-10 since January, so, like it or not, it looks as if the Sooners could be Pac-10 bound.
• If that becomes true, then the best-case scenario for Kansas — especially now that it might not be able to talk the Pac-10 out of Colorado — would be to hope for further expansion from the conference on the west coast, something our own Tom Keegan outlined in his Thursday column.
• The kicker in all of this, at least as of 9:40 a.m. on Thursday, is that Nebraska officials are denying that the Big Red to the Big Ten is a done deal. Don't believe it. It's easy to deny something on the basis that nothing has yet been made official. But doing so does not mean that it's not true. It simply gives the powers that be at NU a false sense of power and security to believe that this thing is happening on their terms. It's not. But if the Big Ten is where the Huskers want to be then they'd do well to hurry up and make it official. After all, if Notre Dame were to come to the table today ready to sign on the dotted line, that could trump Nebraska's "unofficial" plans and leave the Huskers in a world of hurt.
More to come throughout the day.
5:12 p.m. Update
The Lawrence Journal-World has confirmed reports that Nebraska University is headed to the Big Ten.
"It's a done deal," a source said Wednesday.
Reports of Nebraska's most recent intentions first surfaced early Wednesday morning and continued to grow throughout the day. Multiple reports have indicated that NU will make a formal announcement Friday.
The loss of the Cornhuskers leaves the future of the Big 12 up in the air but at least one person from Kansas University said Wednesday that he didn't believe Nebraska bolting spelled the end for the Big 12.
"Our league's not dead (if we lose Nebraska)," KU men's basketball coach Bill Self said. "It would be nice if we could keep Nebraska but our league will fight hard. Of course we probably need to do some things and be very aggressive in doing them but it's not dead."
3:06 p.m. Update
Chip Brown, of the Rivals.com site OrangeBloods.com, is now reporting that Nebraska has agreed to leave the Big 12 and join the Big Ten. According to Brown, a formal announcement is expected Friday.
Brown, you'll recall, was the guy who started all of the Pac-10 mess with his report a week ago that said the Pac-10 was prepared to invite six Big 12 schools to join them out west.
Someone close to the situation has said that Brown has the best source in the entire country.
For more, check out Brown's latest entry.
With rumors and speculation flying around at what seems to be the speed of light, we thought there needed to be a place on KUsports.com to accumulate some of this information regarding the future of conferences in college athletics.
As we know, the hottest rumors out there involve Nebraska and Missouri's interest in the Big Ten and the Pac-10's longing for six other Big 12 schools.
Deadlines have been set, meetings are ongoing and it seems like everyone out there has an opinion on what's going to happen.
As the push toward conference realignment moves on, we'll be updating this blog periodically throughout the day with various pieces of news - links, tidbits, analysis - pertaining to the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10 and whatever other conference might work its way into the mix. Without further ado, here's today's first entry.
2:30 p.m. Update
It seems the pleading with Nebraska and Missouri to stay has trickled into the political realm. At least, that's what The Omaha World-Herald is reporting. In his latest story, Joseph Morton reported that Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts recently approached Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson in a hallway just off the Senate floor.
"Don't be the domino that blows college football up into four major conferences and gets rid of the NCAA," a World-Herald reporter heard the Kansas senator tell Nelson. "It isn't going to do anybody any good when those dominoes start falling."
All this while the Nebraska Board of Regents had a 1:15 p.m. conference call scheduled for today and with the Friday deadline for declaring their intentions rapidly approaching.
Earlier in the day, The World-Herald reported that a source close to the university indicated that the Huskers were leaning toward bolting for the Big Ten.
In other, less ground-breaking news, an Associated Press report on ESPN.com indicates that the Colorado men's basketball and football programs will lose scholarships because of their APR scores.
Call me crazy, but that might not be the best time for something like that to surface if you're a Colorado fan. This news might make Pac-10 officials think twice about taking Colorado, thus opening the door for a school like Kansas.
Like I said, call me crazy.
More to come.