Remember how, on Friday, Nebraska's official exit for the Big Ten all but sealed Texas' departure for the Pac-10, and therefore the collapse of the Big 12 as we know it? In the words of a wise man: Not so fast, my friend.
If anyone in the media has any stake whatsoever in the Texas-to-Pac-10 scenario that's driven the realignment narrative for the last two weeks, it's Orangebloods.com, which broke the Pac-10's imperial ambitions on June 3 and has remained (accurately, so far) well out in front on almost every significant development in the meantime. It must be on good authority, then, that OB reporter Chip Brown scoops himself this morning with word that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, against every odd and prediction, has somehow convinced Texas to remain in the fold with only nine other members (emphasis added):
In a bombshell development that could bring a halt to seismic changes in college realignment, sources tell Orangebloods.com Texas has been convinced by a plan presented by commissioner Dan Beebe to stay in a 10-member Big 12.
UT officials are expected to announce their decision to remain in the Big 12 as early as Monday.
... as it became clear over the weekend that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appeared ready join the Pac-10 and Texas A&M appeared ready to join the SEC, Beebe was able to obtain assurances that a TV deal could be reached paying each of the 10 remaining members of the Big 12 between $14 million and $17 million.
Texas is the lynchpin in both the Pac-10's plan for continental domination and the Big 12's last gasp at survival; Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech have all made it abundantly clear that, so go the Longhorns, so go they. If Texas kills the deal, the Sooners, Cowboys and Red Raiders won't think twice, if their invitations even still stand.
But in the words of another wise man: Don't believe everything you read. In direct contrast to Brown's late-breaking twist, ESPN's Joe Schad was convinced by multiple sources this morning that the Pac-16 is still a go (emphasis added):
The departure of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac-10 is imminent, four sources within the Big 12 said Monday.
One source said commissioner Dan Beebe's last-minute plan to save the conference has "zero" chance to succeed. Another source said it is "very unlikely" to succeed.
Schad thinks Texas A&M will defect to the SEC, Texas will announce its departure for the Pac-10 at a meeting of its Board of Regents on Tuesday, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will follow on Wednesday and the Big 12 will be no more as a major football conference. In other words: Par for the course.
That's the scenario we've been led to believe for the last ten days – especially since reports of Nebraska's imminent departure to the Big Ten on Wednesday night and Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott's weekend tour of candidates in the Big 12 South – in large part because of the reporting of Chip Brown at Orangebloods. Not many reporters put themselves in position to be proven wrong by having been right.
In Brown's latest scenario, Texas' backing out of the exit plan would conveniently thrust the next crucial decision about the fate of the conference off of Texas and onto Texas A&M. One of the keys in Beebe's survival plan is the commitment to a 10-member conference, which will only happen if A&M rebuffs overtures to the SEC for a commitment to a reduced Big 12; otherwise, the Longhorns will simply be left with no choice, you see, just as they were left with no choice after Nebraska responded to an ultimatum to save the conference by defecting to the Big Ten. That way, the most powerful team in the conference – the only one that could have put an end to all movement by declaring its firm commitment from the beginning – can pin its disintegration onto the 'Huskers and Aggies. Their hand was forced, see?
If Texas wants out of the Big 12, it could be out today. If it wanted to hold the conference together, it could have made sure it remained entirely intact (give or take Colorado) months ago. If it wants to get out without the death of the conference on its hands, the plan isn't going very well.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.