Surprise, Surprise: Texas and Texas A&M Not In Agreement on Pac-10 Move
But Thursday, the crumbling league may have received a lifeline under perhaps the most bizarre of circumstances. Texas A&M officials, including president R. Bowen Loftin and athletic director Bill Byrne, met with Texas officials, including UT president William Powers and athletic director DeLoss Dodds, to discuss what direction both institutions might take.
"Officials from Texas A&M University and the University of Texas met in Austin today to discuss several topics of mutual interest to both institutions regarding recent developments affecting the Big 12 Conference," A&M VP/Marketing & Communications director Jason Cook said in a released statement. "No decisions were made or agreements reached as a result of these discussions."
Texas apparently wants A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to join it in the Pac-10. Sources are telling FanHouse that Texas A&M favors a move to the SEC and would like Texas to be part of the move.
Apparently little got resolved during the meeting, and about the only consensus the two sides came to is they'd both like to see the Big 12 survive. A source said both schools are seriously exploring ways to keep the league viable.
But that could prove difficult to do with schools being picked off by other conferences. Colorado left Thursday morning to join the Pac-10 and Nebraska is expected to make its membership to the Big Ten official Friday after the Board of Regents rubber stamps the move.
For days, it has seemed a given that the 14-year-old Big 12 would dissolve with the anticipated exodus of Nebraska and Missouri to the Big Ten, which would then set into motion a move by UT, Texas A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to the Pac-10 to form a mega 16-school conference that stretched from South to the Pacific Coast. But the dynamics of the dominoes began to change some when it became evident that an invite for Missouri to the Big Ten has been put on hold and then political pressure in the state of Texas had convinced UT that Baylor needed to be part of the Pac-10 move, which was not in agreement with Pac-10 officials.
Texas, meanwhile, has always been in favor of keeping the Big 12 functional over moving to another conference because of the clout it enjoys. Texas has one of the richest athletic departments in the country, so doubling its conference take to $20 million isn't as important as having the biggest say in the direction of a league.
Dodds and Powers got a taste of just how different their influence would be in the Pac-16 when Pac-10 officials extended an invitation to Colorado on Thursday to ward off any conversations about Baylor being included in the package.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, who over the weekend was given the freedom to explore expansion, said during a Thursday teleconference to announce Colorado's membership that the Pac-10 could very well stop at 11 and that no other invitations had been extended, contrary to published reports.
Texas and Texas A&M, meanwhile, appear at odds on the next step to make. Byrne, who was once the athletic director at Oregon, has been vocal since last week about the burden the increased travel would place on student-athletes in a Pac-16. Moving to the SEC would certainly make travel much less of an issue.
Texas, however, isn't in favor of the move because its institution would be aligned with several schools in the SEC that don't share similar academic reputations.
Both sides left Thursday's meeting with a plan not to make any decisions until sometime next week, according to a source.
There is a strong belief that the Big 12 could still be a viable league with just 10 members, or there is the outside possibility of adding a school like TCU and Louisville.
In the meantime, programs like Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri are left in a holding pattern because none control their own destiny. But Texas Tech, which has joined itself at the hip of Texas, attempted to put a positive spin on its position Thursday.
"Texas Tech University is optimistic and excited about the future of our athletics program," a released statement read. "We are still monitoring the situation and will comment in more detail at the appropriate time. Our potential options are positive for the university."