6:38 p.m. Update:
Just realized that the last update is an absolute mess. Welcome to my world.
Let's try to simplify it with an update on my conference realignment probability wheel.
Reports out there are indicating that KU is becoming a hot commodity on the west coast and with the ACC... At this point in time — that's a key phrase — it's my belief that KU would go east before it goes west.
6:16 p.m. Update:
Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com just Tweeted that Texas to the ACC is picking up steam. He has a story on his site but it's premium content so I'm guessing most of you won't be able to see it.
This rumor has been floating under the outlandish and wild rumors for quite some time now and I've heard talk that it's more than likely that it could include KU... at some point.
Under that scenario, Texas is basically calling OU's bluff and making its own way.
That would mean OU would have no choice but to bolt for the Pac-12 — and take OSU with them — leaving Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Missouri to fend for themselves.
Under that scenario there's always the well-documented fallback plan of KU, KSU and MU to the Big East. That could even include Baylor. Not bad. Not great. Especially if you're not a believer in the Big East's long-term future.
So, if UT goes ACC and OU goes Pac-12, could a scenario arise where those two are actually fighting to take KU with them? Absolutely. Sources have told me that if that were to become the case, it's much more likely that KU would go with Texas to the ACC or with K-State and Missouri to the Big East.
But... If the Pac-12 offer comes first and the Big 12 is falling apart around them, KU would have to have one heck of a guarantee from Texas AND the ACC or the Big East to pass on that offer.
While it seems like we're starting to figure some of this out, it's actually just getting crazier and crazier by the minute.
5:23 p.m. Update:
Trying something new here - a little feature that will help us keep track of the day's events... I think.... I hope.... Let's see.
3:21 p.m. Update:
More from Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman, who just held a chat over the lunch hour that answered a few more questions.
At this point, it's clear that the Big 12 is in the middle of a showdown between Texas and Oklahoma. All along the thought has been that the Big 12 could, and would, survive so long as OU and UT remained in it. With the two now battling, that can't be good news for the future of the league, no matter how you slice it.
For one, if the two are really that angry with one another, a divorce could be inevitable and the end of the Big 12 could be the collateral damage.
Second, if the two kiss and make up, how long will that last and will we ever be able to trust again that these two schools are seeing eye to eye?
Dark days for the Big 12.
There's always the possibility that Oklahoma's talk about the Pac-12 is part of a power play to get Texas to give up some serious leverage here.
That's what Andy Staples, of SI.com, said in this article that equates the whole realignment mess to a game of "chicken."
The more I talk to sources and read around the web, the more I'm thinking that this thing is real and the Sooners want out.
Tramel all but said that this morning on "Fescoe in the Morning" on 610 sports radio.
Here's the link to the podcast page: http://www.610sports.com/pages/10085999.php?
Scroll down to Fescoe's link and look for "9/13/11 Hour Three" to listen.
Here's the money quote:
"Well, I think they're going to the Pac-12 as soon as A&M gets clear," Tramel told the radio show when asked what OU was going to do. "OU has stated that the desire was that A&M stayed and if A&M stays they'll stay, but if A&M goes then OU's gonna go."
1:45 p.m. Update:
Sorry, everyone. Just finished up with today's press conference with KU coach Turner Gill and selected players. Can't really skip that.
Let's jump right back in, shall we.
First, a couple of notes from the presser. When asked about the Big 12 and its uncertain future, Gill continued to praise KU's leadership and he said he had faith that the Jayhawks would be fine when all this is over. Gill also said that he's been asked a few times about the situation but that he's been much more focused on football games than the fluid conference realignment situation.
As for the players themselves, a couple of them were asked about the situation, as well. KU quarterback Jordan Webb, a sophomore, said he would, of course, love to stay in the Big 12 because that's why so many players who come to Kansas come - to play in the Big 12. He also said that he realized they had very little control over it and that he'd move forward preparing to play whoever they tell him he has to.
As for true freshman, Tanner Gibas, a long snapper, his brother was a four-year long snapper at Texas A&M. Gibas said the two have talked about the situation and that his brother continues to support the Aggies. As for Gibas himself, "I just tell him, 'Your boys are making a mistake down there,' he said with a grin.
OK... Back to the meat of all this. While I was tied up, this report surfaced from ESPN Dallas that indicates that Oklahoma is, in fact, interested in a move to the Pac-12 but that such a move is nowhere near ready to happen today.
From the article:
"There is strong interest within the leadership of Oklahoma about the Pac-12, really strong, but to characterize it as already (having) been done, well, that's going too far," said the source. "It is fair to say there is strong interest, but that doesn't mean the Big 12 is not an option anymore. The concern is long-term stability."
Here's the link:
Back with more soon. Stay tuned....
10:48 a.m. Update:
Some serious stuff is starting to come out of the wood work, as Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman just filed this report that includes a source saying, in no uncertain terms, that the Big 12 is "done."
The report also includes more good info on Texas' last-ditch effort to convince Oklahoma to stick it out in the Big 12. As has been reported previously, the meeting did not go great and Bohls' latest report quotes a source as saying OU had made up its mind before UT even got to Norman, Okla., last Sunday.
From Bohls' report:
"Texas' first choice is to keep the Big 12 together. That's always been and continues to be Plan A and B," a well-placed Texas source said. "However, they know that if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State leave, the conference is no longer viable. Then it's time to look at Plan C."
This report also includes some good info about the ACC's role in all of this. Starting to get serious, folks.
9:42 a.m. Update:
Sorry for getting caught in general-overview mode in my first post of the day. In an effort to keep all this straight, I momentarily forgot why I was here. And that’s to analyze and inform you on Kansas University’s role in all this.
Frustrations are mounting about KU’s apparent lack of involvement in this mess, but I can assure you that things are not exactly what they appear there either.
Athletic director Sheahon Zenger has spent the majority of each day since Boren decided to speak up about OU’s stance working to solidify KU’s place in all this. On Labor Day, while the rest of the conference’s ADs shut things off and stepped away from realignment to be with their families, Zenger continued to work the phones. Many of those phone calls to other ADs were either ignored outright or greeted by the polite but disheartening sounds of ‘Can we talk tomorrow?’
Monday, while in Chicago at a previously scheduled event with KU donors, Zenger spent as much time on the phones as he did in the same room with the people he was there with. The man has made conference realignment his top priority since talk of A&M’s departure to the SEC first surfaced in late July, and he will continue to do so until it’s finished.
But it’s not just Zenger who’s fighting for KU’s place here. More than one Big 12 source has indicated to me that KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is “right in the thick of all this” and those same sources have said that they have been impressed with the tenacity and passion with which KU’s chancellor has approached realignment.
I’m sure you’ve heard this more than once, probably even a time or two in this very blog; but it won’t hurt you to hear it again. Just because KU’s leaders are not out in public with what they’re doing and thinking every step of the way does not mean they’re not working. They are, just like chancellors, presidents and ADs at Kansas State, Missouri, Baylor and Iowa State, among others. Everyone involved in conference realignment in one way or another — be it the key movers and shakers or the people and places that will be impacted greatly by whatever shakes down — realizes the gravity of the situation.
While I’m sure Zenger would love to come out with a statement today that illustrates exactly what KU’s stance is and outlines a time table for all this to be over or else, threats such as those won’t go very far and likely would do more harm to KU than good. So KU sits quiet, but active, remains loyal to the conference it’s in, for now, and readies the troops for options A, B and C, depending upon which course of action becomes most prudent.
Oklahoma, the Pac-12, the SEC and Texas — maybe in that order — are the key players here. Everyone else must simply wait to see or hear what the powers that be within those four groups decide and then we’ll all be able to move on from there. At least in any official manner.
Props to Baylor for sticking its neck out and getting involved. The Bears’ bold move last week bought some time. But it didn’t really change anything. Not for Baylor, not for the Big 12 and not for realignment as a whole.
We’re still waiting on Oklahoma. As much as people are probably ready for all this to be over, I’m afriad it may be just beginning.
9:19 a.m. Update:
Just when you think you’ve got this whole conference realignment thing figured out, something crazy happens and all logic flies out the window.
Then again, maybe it’s not so crazy. Maybe it’s your logic that was crazy in the first place. Or maybe it is crazy just not yet. You know, it’s going to be crazy as soon as something else triggers the crazy mechanism and gets the whole thing rolling.
Anyway, that’s where we’re at as we enter Day 12 — at least for this round — of a movement that could reshape college athletics as we know them. What began Sept. 2 with a couple of bold statements from Oklahoma president David Boren has taken just about every twist and turn imaginable since that Friday night, the eve of the college football season, no less, when Boren decided to steal the spotlight and point it firmly at Norman, Okla.
Since that night, plenty of other universities, conference commissioners and school presidents have had their moment in the sun. Texas always seems to be there in some form or another. The Pac-12’s Larry Scott has had plenty to say, even if he’s trying not to say much. Even little old Baylor has stuck its head into the fight.
Through it all, 12 days — minus a couple here and there — of rumors, sources and mind-numbing speculation, we’re really in the same spot we started. We’re all waiting on Boren to make a decision about the Sooners’ future.
Initially, it looked as if OU was a university divided on the issue. Stick with the Big 12 and leverage your explorations for equal revenue sharing and a few other concessions from Texas or bolt for the Pac-12 and the promise of conference stability, ignoring the geographic and historic disadvantages that may await.
Reports surfaced Monday that indicated that the Sooners — along with Oklahoma State — had made up their minds and would apply for membership in the Pac-12 by the end of the month. I’m betting it’s not that cut-and-dry. OU may go. But it won’t be that easy. There’ll be more lawsuits threatened, pleas made and invitations considered. Heck, at this point, we’re not even 100 percent sure that the Pac-12 wants the Sooners, though Scott’s quick about-face on Monday after hearing that the SEC officially had agreed to accept Texas A&M into the conference might have been Scott tipping his hand a little.
The bottom line is this: Scott desperately wanted the Big 12 south teams to come aboard last summer. It didn’t work out. He got Colorado and Utah instead. Not enough time has passed for Scott to have changed his mind that much and OU and UT are still the best looking girls at the party. Scott wants to dance with both of them. Whether they’ll both be around long enough for him to make it happen remains to be seen.
Pete Thamel, of the New York Times, has some good info on last weekend’s meeting between Texas and Oklahoma officials in this story, filed late Monday night.
As much as it appears as if these two are headed for a divorce, I caution against signing the paperwork too soon. If we’ve learned one thing in all of this it’s that things are not always what they appear or what you hear.
Berry Tramel, of the Oklahoman, has been following this thing as well as anyone. Could his latest blog entry, "Why middle America might be without a league" be tipping his hand about what he expects the outcome to be. Have a look.