Recent analysis here and elsewhere had pretty much stamped "DOA" on the Big 12 conference. The losses of Colorado and Nebraska were non-fatal injuries that seriously weakened it. The potential loss of Texas A&M, triggering an exodus of the rest of the Big 12 south, suggested that the Big 12 would be knocking on death's door as early as next Tuesday.
However, new reports have emerged suggesting that there are two possible scenarios under which the Big 12 could manage to survive the expansion debacle.
1. Dan Beebe convinces Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M to stay put
Chip Brown has the latest on this one. Apparently Dan Beebe is working furiously to counter his Pac-10 and SEC counterparts Larry Scott and Mike Silve. He has been pushing a plan that would keep the Big 12 together at ten member schools, less the departing members of Colorado and Nebraska. Chip writes,
Beebe has secured information that enough money could be inked in its next TV negotiation (in 2011) that revenues per school would jump from between $7 million and $10 million in the Big 12 currently to $17 million, which is what the SEC pays out.
Individal institutions would be allowed to pursue their own networks, which has been a goal of Texas. If the Longhorns went to the Pac-10, they would have to forgo their own distribution platforms, including a network, because the Pac-16 would seek to have a conference network in which all inventory is shared.
The Big 12 would proceed with 10 teams. Everyone would play everyone in football, providing a nine-game conference schedule. And the option to save or dump the conference championship game would be determined by the institutions.
This plan depends entirely on Texas. If Beebe is somehow successful in convincing Texas that the money is there for the Big 12 conference, it just might happen. But if Texas isn't persuaded, then the Big 12 cannot survive under this scenario. Even though it seems like Beebe has an uphill battle with regards to Texas, the Longhorns haven't seemed to be completely enthused about jumping into the Pac-10, mostly because of the possible revenue hit they might take. It's been suggested that the Longhorns would really want to be part of the Big Ten, but that the current political environment makes that unfeasible.
If Beebe fails to convince the Big 12 south to stay, there may be another way that the conference survives....
2. The orphaned members of the Big 12 (Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, and Baylor) absorb the MWC
An article out on KU Sports floated this idea late Saturday. Essentially, if the Texas bloc of schools (with the exception of Baylor) departs for the Pac-10, the Mountain West Conference would agree to be swallowed by the remaining members of the Big 12 to form a new Big 12 conference.
We had previously reported that the MWC was looking hard to add Kansas and Missouri in expansion efforts of its own, should the Big 12 dissolve. So, why would the MWC be so quick to agree to, essentially, cease to exist?
The Big 12 is an automatic qualifier for the BCS, and also has a large number of shares for the NCAA basketball tournament. The MWC is not an automatical qualifier. Preserving the Big 12, therefore, could ensure that those teams have a shot at automatic BCS bowl qualification. While we've also heard that TCU would like nothing more than to get revenge on Baylor for excluding them from the original formation of the Big 12, it's hard to believe that the Horned Frogs (or the newly joined Boise State Broncos, for that matter) would allow old grudges to to get in the way of an automatic BCS bowl berth.
Interestingly, if this scenario occurred, the Big 12 would be at 15 teams, after Boise State joined in 2011, unless Utah or Kansas joined the Texas schools in the Pac-10. If the conference was at 15 teams, they could stay at 15 and do away with a conference championship game, or, they could go shopping for a 16th team. Might Memphis be a good fit, considering the millions of dollars FedEx has vowed to pledge to any BCS affiliated conference who takes in the Tigers?