Posted by Adam Jacobi
The Pac-12 is in the advanced stages of a plan to bring Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State into the fold, according to various reports. Though Texas has long been linked as a potential target of the Pac-12, the Longhorn Network has always been a stumbling block for negotiations... until now.
It appears a compromise on the programming of the LHN is in the works, as reported by the Austin American-Statesman, and perhaps the Longhorn Network won't be all Texas, all the time in the future:
Nothing has been accepted or approved, yet, but the deal would allow the Longhorns to keep the Longhorn Network.
Texas, though, would have to add Pac-12 (soon to be 16) content to the LHN programming.
The Longhorns would be able to keep all of their revenue from the network if that amount is greater than one-sixteenth of what the entire Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. However, if one-sixteenth of the money the Pac-12 receives from third-tier rights ends up being a larger amount, the schools would divide the revenue evenly and everybody would receive the same amount, the source said.
Plans for the then-Pac-10 to bring Texas and a cadre of its mates from the former Big XII South to help form a Pac-16 crumbled in 2010 during the first round of conference realignment, with plans getting hung up on whether the four Texas schools in the Big 12 would be forced to remain together in a potential move or not. For as vocal as Baylor has been in trying to block Texas A&M's move to the SEC, it likely won't sit quietly this time around either, but so far there's been no public comment on this report by Baylor president Ken Starr or anybody else there.
As for football play in the hypothetical Pac-16, if the American-Statesman report is to be believed, talks are advanced enough that the conference is planning four four-team pods where each team would play its fellow pod members once, then two teams from each of the other three pods for a total of nine conference games. That would lead to a host of logistical questions in terms of tiebreakers and scheduling inequities year to year, but it's just about the fairest way to handle a 16-team football league without scheduling 15 conference games a year.
If the move goes through, and if Texas A&M does indeed join the SEC as it's been trying to do for a while now, the Big 12 would be left with just five teams: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and the aforementioned Baylor. There will likely be a host of Big East football programs looking for a new conference to latch onto if the ACC continues siphoning programs away, so the Big 12 may see its footprint expand east. The provision mandating that a conference maintain a group of five members together for five consecutive years was removed on August 1, 2011 (thanks, @bylawblog), so the Big 12 isn't in any danger of outright disbanding unless it can't get eight eligible members together for a season. Considering SMU, Houston, and the suddenly vulnerable TCU are all viable expansion candidates right there in the state of Texas, to say nothing of programs like Louisville and Cincinnati who may be in danger of losing BCS conference status, disbanding seems exceedingly unlikely.
At any rate, Oklahoma and Texas (opens .PDF file in new window) both have Board of Regents meetings already scheduled for Monday afternoon -- with conference realignment on their agendas -- so nobody's going to be kept waiting about this report for very long.