Here we go again.
With Texas establishing its own little collegiate hegemony in Austin, the Big 12 has begun to crumble at its foundation. And it's opened the tomb back up for the dead Pac-16 from last summer.
According to Dave Sandhop of Aggie Insider, the Big 12 schools have secretly been in discussion with all conferences in all schools. Three of the biggest names could be taking a look toward the surging Pac-12: The Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma St. Cowboys, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Apparently, Oklahoma was told by several SEC sources that a future deal including Oklahoma State was highly unlikely...that they would need to split if they wanted to be seriously considered for inclusion. That explains recent rumors that OU has been inquiring about the PAC-12’s interest level in expanding the conference with both Oklahoma schools. If that doesn’t pan out, then the Sooners may come back to the SEC and consider working the politics of splitting with OSU.
Texas Tech is also putting out feelers with the PAC-12 and Kansas has been in contact with the Big East for quite some time and there’s talk that Kansas State could also be in the discussions. And of course, that would leave Texas free to pursue independence and cement its partnership with ESPN with a more comprehensive TV contract.
15 is a nice number, but one more school would probably be needed to make it work and make the proper division split.
Pacific Division: Cal, Oregon, Oregon St., Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington, Wash. St. (the original Pac-8)
Southwest Division: Arizona, ASU, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas Tech, ???
With Texas A&M and Missouri reportedly interested in the SEC and Kansas and Kansas State looking toward the Big East, the next available candidate would probably be Baylor (to pair off with Texas Tech). It wouldn't be quite the coup that the "Texas-Pac" would have been, but any maneuver that brings in the Oklahoma schools is well worth considering.
Whether Larry Scott would pursue further realignment without Texas is a question mark. The Longhorns were the big prizes of last year's expansion free agency, and because "Texas decided to be Texas because that's just what Texas does", the benefits of placing more schools in his resurgent Pac-12 aren't quite as pronounced. Regardless, the benefits to further expansion are enormous. Oklahoma football, Oklahoma State football, and Texas Tech football are three of the 40 most profitable programs in the country, so regardless of who the fourth school is, adding those three programs seems too tantalizing a proposition to turn down.
It shouldn't take too long for Scott to find benefits from courting more schools for further expansion. It would open up the conference further to the eyes of Texas, as there would no longer be a dominant conference presence (Texas independent, A&M to the SEC, Tech and the Oklahoma schools to the Pac-16). It could also be the next step in ensuring that the Pac-12 network gains national acceptance. And it'd be the first of the super conferences that could spell the beginning of the end of the NCAA.
Exciting stuff, wouldn't you say?