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Conference Realignment Not A Bang But A Whimper?

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Looks that way though I do not imagine the Pac 11 is quite done yet. For now it looks like the six BCS conferences will remain intact with some minor changes.

Following the defection of Colorado to the Pac 10 and Nebraska to the Big Televen, all eyes fell on Texas who basically held the life of the Big 12 in its hands. If the Longhorns opted to go to the Pac 10 they would most certainly take at least Oklahoma with them and possibly Oklahoma St as well. Texas A&M and Texas Tech were also discussed as possible westward movers. Then again Texas A&M was also bantered around as a possible SEC target to give that league in-roads into Texas and give the Aggies some kind of independence from the boys in Austin. In that scenario Virginia Tech was also mentioned as a candidate to make it an even 14 teams in the SEC which would have sent John "Wait and See" Swofford scrambling for another team, presumably from the Big East. The first domino in all of those moves rested with Texas and if the Longhorns bolted then needless to say there would have been some discount Big 12 memorabilia available in the near future.

On Monday, Texas did something that is quite unusual for the Lone Star State: They gave the Big 12 a stay of execution opting to hang in what will be a ten team league. That is assuming Missouri does not end up somewhere else or the Big 12 doesn't invite BYU and Air Force, all rumors that have been circulated on Twitter in the past 12 hours. The Big 12(10) will forgo its title game in the official sense and instead hold it(for all intents and purposes) when Texas plays Oklahoma.

The primary reason Texas opted to stay put is simple: They get more money this way. Texas already gets a bigger share of the Big 12(10) pie and Big 12(10) commissioner Don Beebe was basically crapping rainbows and sending unicorn drawn chariots of monopoly money to Austin in a bid to get Texas to stay put.  The details are still a tad fuzzy but  some estimates have Texas getting upwards of $25 million per year with the other conference schools getting SEC type money in the $15 to $17 million range. All of this despite no current renegotiation of the TV contract or intervention from ESPN not to mention only one truly nationally marketable game, the aforementioned Red River Shootout. In other words, no one has any idea where the money Beebe is promising will come from except:

...extremely strong verification, based on our analysis with our consultants and others, and media companies themselves, that we are in a tremendous position to execute future agreements that will put our member institutions on par with any in the country.

And if that sounds an awful lot like a politician from either party discussing Federal spending its because it sounds exactly like that. For Texas the possibility of having their own TV network weighed heavily in the decision to stick with the Big 12(10) Apparently that is a possibility in the Big 12(10) whereas a move to the Pac 10(11 or 16 or something) would have precluded such a move.

Save for the Pac 11 tapping someone to complete them, this round of conference realignment appears to done with only some minor tremors. It is a far cry from the apocalyptic musings we heard a week ago about the destruction of the Big 12 and a Pac 16 conference that was demanding two BCS automatic bids without a conference title game. As far as the ACC goes, it allows John Swofford to rest easy, for now. His wait and see approach might be vindicated for now but if I were him, I would develop and continually revise contingencies for the future. Heck, I would even come up with a plan or two with the ACC as the aggressor just to stay ahead of the curve.  As was the case with NCAA Basketball Tournament expansion, no one in their right mind thinks this is the end. It might come in a year or five years but at some point I think we will see the kind of chaos most of us assumed was coming last week when Nebraska and Colorado began making their move.

To conclude, a discussion of conference realignment would not be complete without listening to Oklahoma St. owner booster T. Boone Pickens pontificate on the subject in that brutally honest but hilarious sort of way.