Texas Tech Officials Believe Big 12 Done and Pac-10 Invitations Imminent: LAJ's Matthew McGowan talked with a high ranking official with Texas Tech who confirmed that Texas Tech, University of Texas and Texas A&M would be sticking together and could be expecting a Pac-10 invite shortly. Here's McGowan:
When Nebraska leaves the Big 12 Conference this week, so too will Texas Tech, Texas and Texas A&M, a high-ranking Tech official confirmed Wednesday.
The official said those three Texas universities have vowed to stick together through any major conference upheaval, which — according to multiple reports from reputable newspapers across the country — Nebraska will trigger this week.
The University of Texas, along with Tech and A&M, should soon be leaving the conference to join the Pacific-10 Conference, according to the source.
Although the Pac-10 has not extended official invitations to Tech, Texas, Texas A&M or three other Big 12 schools, conference officials have contacted the universities and expressed their interest in doing so, said the source, who is expecting the official invitations soon.
This is of course on the heels of the news coming out yesterday that Nebraska and their Board of Regents have officially decided to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten. I'm not 100% confident, despite numerous quotes by Chancellor Kent Hance and Regent Jerry Turner assuring Red Raider fans that Texas Tech will be just fine. If I had to gauge my comfort level at this point, it's probably 80%, but I still have my doubts. As I tried to fall asleep last night there were a handful of things that kept me awake (which gave rise to the 20% doubt) and I thought I'd tackle them here this morning.
'Tech' Problem: Remember last week when we talked about the 'Tech' problem that was being discussed between the Ohio St.'s President and the Big Ten Commissioner, most likely in reference to Texas' discussions to becoming a part of the Big Ten? I've always maintained that I have no problems with any university exploring their options. Just wanted to get that out of the way. When this story broke it appeared that this was a term used by those Big Ten folks, but I just assumed that perhaps that Texas used this term and that maybe this was a situation whereby Texas was forced to bring along Texas Tech because of certain political wrangling.
I didn't even entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Texas wanted Texas Tech to come along from the get-go. It sounds ridiculous, but if the Aggies were exploring their options to possible go to the SEC (more on this later) is there a possibility that the Longhorns wanted to retain some sort of natural rival to go along to the Big Ten. Obviously, the choice could have been Oklahoma or any other school, but I suppose that my doubting of the possible strong ties between Texas and Texas Tech politically may have been a foolish.
I'm not trying to say that this absolutely happened, but just introducing this as a possibility. Sounds crazy, and my initial reaction was to believe that Texas Tech was a forced marriage on Texas, but I should not have discounted the possibility that Texas wanted Texas Tech as an ally as both universities were aware that TAMU may have a strong interest in the SEC, but both UT and Texas Tech had a greater interest in the Pac-10.
Pledging Solidarity: Last night, ESPN Dallas' Jeff Caplan came out with the story that the presidents and chancellors from Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech all pledged their solidarity in a meeting in Austin yesterday:
The source said the meetings included the chancellors, presidents and athletic directors from the three schools. Not present was a Baylor contingent. Baylor is locked in a battle with Colorado for what is presumed to be the sixth spot along with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that would create a 16-team superconference with the Pac-10 schools. Colorado is believed to be favored by the Pac-10.
This adds to my thought that I'm 80% comfortable with this whole thing working out, however, . . .
UT and TAMU to Meet Today: The Chron's Brent Zwerneman writes that Texas and TAMU will meet today, apparently without Texas Tech, to discuss their options:
With the Big 12 splitting up, University of Texas officials confirmed Wednesday that there’s a meeting scheduled between Texas A&M and UT leaders today to discuss their potential courses of action. One insider described the entire situation as "extremely fluid" on Wednesday night, with several possible outcomes, and another said Texas and Texas A&M haven’t ruled out becoming members of the Southeastern Conference.
The thing that bothers me, obviously, is that Texas Tech isn't included in these meetings. Or at least, from these initial reports, it doesn't appear that Texas Tech is involved. That bothers me, but maybe it shouldn't.
SI.com's Andy Staples has a similar story, but has apparently confirmed that SEC officials contacted Texas A&M officials months ago about a possible move to the SEC:
A source confirmed to SI.com late Wednesday that emissaries from the SEC initiated discussions with Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne months ago, and while the SEC is just one of several potential options for the Aggies, it remains an option heading into Thursday's meeting between Texas A&M and Texas officials. At the meeting, power brokers from both schools will discuss a last-ditch effort to save the Big 12, even if Nebraska's Board of Regents votes Friday to leave for the Big Ten. "It's on life support," the source said of the Big 12. "But people have come off life support before."
I'm not sure that I could predict what might happen should the Aggies be offered and accept an invitation to the SEC. I can't imagine that the Pac-10's invites are contingent on TAMU joining the conference, but it wouldn't surprise me either. Remember, it's all about television markets and the Aggies have a very healthy share of the Houston and DFW markets.
If TAMU accepts an invitation to the SEC, would the Pac-10 invite another school, possibly Utah? That would be a pretty significant television market, Salt Lake City, especially if it appears that Baylor is not on the Pac-10's short list of candidates. Any other options that I'm not considering?
With Nebraska reportedly headed to the Big Ten Conference, the Pac-10 is poised to extend offers to six current Big 12 Conference members, ramping up its numbers to 16.
Pac-10 Conference officials declined to talk about the deal on the record because of the sensitive nature of negotiations, but one with knowledge of the plan said, "It’s locked and loaded."
Joining the Pac-10 in 2012 would be Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Colorado.
One other quick note about a Pac-10 is that ESPN's Ted Miller and Mark Schlabach reported essentially the same thing that Dufresne reported, but had this nugget:
The coach said it's possible the Pac-16 would push for two automatic bids to the BCS, one for each division champion. That potential bonanza could open the possibility of the two division champs from one league playing for the national title, and it would eliminate the need for a conference championship game.
"The Pac-10 doesn't believe in a championship game," the coach said. "And coaches in the Big 12 don't like it anyway."
This changes everything, right? With two possible automatic BCS bids, does the new Pac-10 become a more attractive option to a school like TAMU in looking to decide between the SEC and the Pac-10.