Posted by Bryan Fischer
"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in."
- The Godfather, Part III.
The aforementioned movie was probably the worst of the trio of films in The Godfather series but the quote is a fairly accurate reflection of what happened Tuesday. Just when you thought Oklahoma was out, they're pulled back in. Or, thanks to the Pac-12's statement late Tuesday night, pushed back into the Big 12.
As everyone woke up, it seemed as though Oklahoma (and Oklahoma State too) were headed to the Pac-12. Their board had authorized President David Boren to act in the best interest of the school regarding conference realignment on Monday. It looked like it was a mere formality before there'd be some movement. Before everyone was home from work though, it seemed as things had cooled on that.
The Sooners would still be willing to work out somethings in order to make the Big 12 work, The Oklahoman reported. Commish Dan Beebe had to go, Texas would have to alter The Longhorn Network and concessions would have to be made. The door was open for the Big 12, but so was the Pac-12's... until the latter wasn't.
That's the gist of the Pac-12's statement, that they'd be sticking with the current group of schools and their giant media rights deal that still has ink drying on it. From the looks of everything - and that seems to change hour-by-hour - Oklahoma will no longer head West and we've essentially hit the pause/reset button on the realignment craze for at least a few more days.
"We were not surprised by the Pac 12's decision to not expand at this time," Boren said in a statement. "Even though we had decided not to apply for membership this year, we have developed a positive relationship with the leadership of the conference and we have kept them informed of the progress we've been making to gain agreement from the Big 12 for changes which will make the conference more stable in the future."
What's it all mean?
For the Pac-12: Raise your glasses once again to Larry Scott. It was his vision a year ago to push for the Pac-16 and when offered the chance to make it work, he said no because he couldn't do it on his terms. According to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, the league balked at giving Texas a sweetheart deal to make the arrangement with the Oklahoma schools work. The Longhorn Network isn't their problem and now the league can go back to putting together their own network that makes LHN's distribution look like a needle in the haystack. That's another win for the Scott and the conference.
For the Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma have to work things out and the other schools have to sign off on it. Texas A&M is still leaving for the SEC so that means expansion is still a topic for discussion (Hello TCU?, BYU?). A source told the AP that the two power schools will meet in the next few days to negotiate a deal to keep both in the league for five years. Forget the Red River Shootout, the Red River Boardroom will be the place to see these two teams square off this year.
It's hard to see Beebe keeping his job through all of this. It's clear he's not in charge anymore and it's time to go. Orangebloods.com reported late Tuesday night that it's not just the Sooners that want the commissioner out. Perhaps Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione could succeed him, he's one of the sharpest people in college athletics and someone who could rally all of the schools and keep the league afloat.
For the Big East: The conference's football teams - newcomer TCU included - met tonight in New York City and remained firmly committed to the league. It's clear that commissioner John Marinatto will hold Pitt and Syracuse in the league until 2014 and actively pursue options to replace them when they do in fact head to the ACC. Brett McMurphy has a detailed account of the meeting and says that Navy and Air Force are two likely targets for the Big East.
For the SEC: Get ready to roll out the welcome mats (officially) for Texas A&M. The Big 12 sticking together means that Baylor and the other schools can relinquish their legal threats and allow the Aggies to proceed on their way East. It remains to be seen if they're going to pursue a 14th team but it seems as though Missouri is off the table - if they were in fact looking at the Tigers to fill that spot as reports had indicated.
For the ACC: Sit tight boys, it will be awhile before the two newest schools will be ready to join the conference. Might want to pump the brakes on adding UConn or Rutgers too as the superconference idea looks to still be aways off.
For the BCS: Oh yeah, don't forget about the BCS itself. There are leagues shifting around like crazy and numbers are certainly going to change. The end date for the current contract is in 2014 but the evaluation process to determine what conference is an automatic qualifier starts much earlier. This might be the final piece of the realignment puzzle to be worked out, but it's one of - if not the - most important.