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Larry Scott Killed The Pac-16? I Call Shenanigans on Texas

And now here's a story something the Texas-hater in all of us Cal fans should love (although if you want TRUE Texas hating with no basis in reality, check out Clay Travis's Fanhouse takedown that Glanko found).

Chip Brown has apparently written the "definitive take" on conference realignment. And, well what do you know, apparently Texas didn't do nothin' wrong. It was our overambitious, bridge-too-far Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott!

And Scott and [Pac-10 chief operating officer Kevin] 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 [Texas A&M athletic director] 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.

I don't think I've seen those soccer balls at the World Cup spin as well as that recording of events.

Let me get this straight. Scott, who has apparently been planning expansion for months, decided to make an eleventh hour decision to exclude Oklahoma State and T Boone Pickens for Kansas, even though a spot was already open for Kansas when Texas A&M said no? Why would Scott alienate Oklahoma State with Texas in the bag, who have the mettle with Pickens to make any conference change an unpleasant, possibly unfeasible one?

Seems like shenangians to me. Especially considering the side of the story where Texas doesn't look all sunshine and roses isn't even mentioned in this "definitive take" (more on that after the jump).

Brown went on to expound A&M's possible departure to the SEC as the other factor that most shook Texas.

Texas became the first to blink, backing away from its Pac-10 invitation and reaching out to Texas A&M at the bargaining table. Credit both the Aggies and the Longhorns for realizing the time wasn't right to break up a 100-year rivalry that even includes mentions of each school in the other's fight song.

This part seems a little plausible. Even though Oklahoma is Texas's main rival, the Aggies and Longhorns have still been lumped together for a century. Imagine if Cal was making the decision to leave for some super conference, but the Furd decided to be their ironic little selves and back out to pursue other opportunities, effectively ending our Big Game rivalry. Could you imagine the outrage Golden Bears fans would feel at losing our annual claim of the Axe?

But I don't really buy that A&M leaving was the breaking point. Peter Bean of Burnt Orange Nation already pointed out how A&M to the SEC would only hurt the Ags, and most Longhorn fans didn't seem to mind leaving the Aggies behind (and vice-versa). Yes, they were probably scared by the bluff, but a dealbreaker? Hardly.

No, considering the reasons for expansion in the first place (revenue and power), it makes little sense that Texas would leave the Pac-16 arrangement simply because of A&M. In cases like these, follow the money people.

We learn from the Texas and Beebe media conferences and some more reporting from sources that ABC/ESPN basically protected its investments and held off college realignment by allowing the 10 schools in the Big 12 to keep all the money ABC/ESPN agreed to pay the league through 2016 when it had 12 members and a conference championship game.

Why would ABC/ESPN agree to such a bad deal? I'm convinced because it didn't want to see Texas and Oklahoma disappear to the Pac-16 conference network likely to be run by Fox. ABC/ESPN, in my opinion, also saw the possibility of realignment coming if the Big 12 fell apart, and that could have led to remodeling the SEC and ACC, conferences in which ABC/ESPN has more than $4 billion tied up in TV contracts.

If the SEC expands by four or the ACC gets picked apart and then remodeled in some merger with the Big East, ABC/ESPN likely has to renegotiate those deals, possibly for more than the $4 billion it had already committed.

Bingo. Unnamed television network finally reveals itself! Who would've thought it'd be them???

But we haven't gotten to checkmate yet, so let's point out the part of the story Brown ignores--how Texas might have made their own set of untenable demands.

A source close to the Pac-10's expansion negotiations told The Denver Post that Texas insisted on better revenue sharing and its own network, which essentially killed the deal.

"In the 11th hour, after months of telling us they understand the TV rights, they're trying to pull a fast one on the verge of sealing the deal in the regents meeting," the source said. "They want a better revenue sharing deal and their own network. Those were points of principle. (The Pac-10) wants to treat everyone fairly. It's been that way for months of discussions."

This makes way more sense than the Longhorn-flavored nonsense being propagated throughout the blogosphere. If Texas and their athletic director DeLoss Dodds was really trying to look for the best possible situation, and if they knew they were getting this great deal from Beebe and ABC/ESPN, AND they knew that it would be better than the total revenue they could possibly get from the expanded Pac-10 conference, then why not go all the way and ask for the impossible? If you get it, you have a leg up on everyone else in the conference; if you don't get it (which you expect to happen), you have your excuse to go, since you get everything you want (better TV revenue, your own channel, etc.) is likely guaranteed with this new settlement.

People value certain short-term gains over long-term gains, and that maxim held true in this circumstance. Texas did the natural thing. They chased the money they'd knew they would get in a weaker dominion they knew they could lord, as opposed to obtaining the money they could theoretically get in a strong conference with constant competition. A&M seems almost like an afterthought here.

I'm not really annoyed at Brown himself for this congratulatory report; he's a pawn in this game, reporting what he hears from sources who have plenty of reasons to spin their own version of the truth. But anyone who read this article should recognize the Longhorns have a vested interest in reporting this in their own way, especially on their own Rivals site. As Team Speed Kills points out....

Chip Brown was given the scoop on this story by people inside UT that knew what they were doing. Smart move as it set their own affiliate up to be the go-to source for the media on this story, letting UT spin any developments to its advantage. (And a nice little quid pro quo for Brown as he used the scoop to tirelessly shill for subscriptions to his website throughout this story.)

Brown went on to report numerous falsehoods such as:

  • Texas fighting for Baylor to join the Pac 10 over Colorado (never happened)
  • Cal blocking Baylor out of Cal's religious intolerance (smearing a university with something it never did, just for UT to distance itself from never existent Baylor support, as soon as Nebraska was leaving and the Pac 16 might be happening)
  • Brown went on SportsCenter on Thursday (6/10) evening and said that the Pac-16 (including A&M) was basically a done deal; Brown was just parroting the UT party line he was being fed, trying to hurry A&M into a deal A&M was far from signing off on but that UT wanted done in order to keep the SEC out of Texas
  • Brown continued to say the other schools would go to the Pa-16 even without A&M.
  • Brown said Rick Perry was fighting for A&M to the Pac-10. Obviously UT wanted to create this perception publicly to try to lend political authority to their Pac-16 deal. A&M insiders and Perry's office have repeatedly denied he took a side on the matter.
  • What do you know. Even the media that covers Texas football wins!

    Brown has done a fine job reporting what he's been told. He's done exactly what he needs to do in the media world--raise his national profile, raise his status as a college sports reporter, and raise subscriptions for Texas Rivals. He has his place in the expansion game, and he performed admirably. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets his promotion very soon.

    But please Texas, don't insult our intelligence with this revisionism. Don't make us believe THIS is the definitive report on what exactly happened in the 24-48 hours that revived the Big 12. Don't even try to make us believe that Larry Scott killed the Pac-16 with a laughably incredulous decision to exclude the Cowboys for no apparent reason.

    The Longhorns might be the heroes of the Big 12. But that also means they're the goats of the Pac-16.

    Update: Scott released his own statement on the matter a few hours ago. Draw your own conclusions.

    Scott said he believes the expansion to 16 teams with Texas leading the way failed for three reasons.

    "Number One, I think there was a tsunami of Texas political pressure from Texas A&M and Baylor," he said. "Secondly, it's clear there was a great national fear that such a compelling plan would cause dramatic domino affects nationally, with other conferences."

    Lastly, Scott added that he was given some strict parameters to work with by the university leaders who hired him about a year ago.

    "My marching orders were clear. There are essential principles and values the Pac-10 holds true to that we were not going to compromise as part of trying to get a deal done."

    Scott would not elaborate, but it's worth noting that in the Pac-10 revenue is shared equally between members and in the Big 12 the most successful programs such as Texas and Oklahoma make more than the others.

    By staying in the Big 12, Texas will be allowed to start its own television network and keep all revenues from it.

    Scott said that would not have been the case if Texas joined the Pac-10.

    "Schools ultimately make decisions for what's best for them," he said.