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Is Oklahoma about to make the Big 12 commish a martyr to his own conference?

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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The fate of the Big 12 teeters on the brink, and only one man can save it — and only by sacrificing himself to the cause. This fall, it's Dan Beebe in… GONE BEEBE GONE:

The University of Oklahoma is considering remaining in the Big 12, but only in a "reformed" version of the conference that includes hard and fast rules for Texas' Longhorn Network and removal of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, a high-ranking Big 12 source told The Oklahoman on Tuesday.
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"It's going to take major, major reforms" for OU, and thus Oklahoma State, to consider remaining in the Big 12, the source said. "We'd have to have an interim commissioner."

The source said the league presidents do not believe Beebe responded with adequate leadership to Nebraska's and Texas A&M's frustration. The Big 12 has lost three members in the last 15 months, and "the relationships were so bad (with) the commissioner," the source said.

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If you had any doubts about Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin's comparison of the state of the Big 12 to a hostage situation, well, there you go. And it should come as no surprise: Beebe is the man who miraculously held the conference together last year with the promise of a more lucrative television contract for the entire league and a free pass for Texas to start its own Texas-specific network, both of which have become a reality.

But the problems have "nothing to do with finances," according to the Oklahoman's source, and "nothing to do with success" on the field. They have to with Beebe personally, and the Longhorn Network's existence, generally. The rest of the league clearly resented Beebe's acquiescence to the network — the LHN's plans to air high school games and even a Big 12 conference game was the anvil that broke the camel's back for Texas A&M in its decision to flee to the SEC — and his disingenuous and/or inept handling of the Aggies' pending departure left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Taken at his own word in that case ("If you seek waivers by the individual institutions [to leave without facing legal action], you must receive them from those institutions directly"), Beebe either lacks the ability to build consensus among his membership, or he lacks the will. Or maybe both.{YSP:MORE}

Like any good negotiator, Oklahoma has other demands, specifically concerning the LHN's plans to air high school and conference games. But regardless of OU's decision, the catalyst for its imminent defection to the Pac-12 — Texas A&M's imminent defection to the SEC — isn't going to change: An unnamed A&M official told the Oklahoman flatly, "We are gone." The SEC is also reportedly on the verge of inviting Missouri as its 14th member, in which case Missouri has no incentive to keep the Big 12 alive. Oklahoma State is going to do whatever Oklahoma does. Texas Tech is going to do whatever Texas does, which, at this point, is probably also going to be whatever Oklahoma does.

So it's the Sooners' decision to make: Is the Big 12 worth saving? If the only way their answer is "yes" is for Beebe to fall on his sword, who's doing the sharpening?

And if their demands are a bluff to compensate for growing uncertainty about their entry to the Pac-12, where does that leave them if both sides decide to call?

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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