As signs point toward Oklahoma and Oklahoma State heading toward membership in an expanded Pac-12, it is becoming clear that Texas would be able to adapt its Longhorn Network to existing Pac-12 conference guidelines if the school chooses to join the league.
As of this morning, a decision by Texas to become part of a possible four-team exodus to the Pac-12 by Big 12 schools _ joining Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech _ seems to be the only thing preventing completion of such a deal.
Presidents at both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have announced intentions to explore other conference affiliatons, with OSU president Burns Hargis saying he will keep his school connected to OU in seeking a future this is “in the best interest of our institutions and the state of Oklahoma.”
The Daily Oklahoman has reported that the “sole focus” of OU officials is a move to the Pac-12. A source close to the Texas situation said Saturday night that it would be "difficult but not impossible” for the LHN to be adapted into the existing Pac-12 structure, which includes one league-wide network and six regional networks, each featuring two schools. Language in the school’s contract with ESPN also suggests flexibility in the event of a shift in conferences.
Peek into the future and it is foreseeable that an eventual Pac-16 could include an adapted version of the LHN as a two-team regional network (featuring Texas and Tech), with another regional network featuring OU and OSU.
Texas also would have the option of competing as an independent in football. But school officials have said repeatedly that they would prefer to remain in a conference.
Before Saturday’s Oregon-LSU game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said schools have approached him in the past week regarding expansion and indicated he would not be surprised about more realignment in the near future.
“I feel like further consolidation and more stability would be a healthy thing for college football,” Scott said. “Right now, there is obviously some instability that I don’t particularly think is a healthy thing in some parts of the country.”
If the Big 12 implodes, based on Texas A&M’s anticipated move to the SEC and the possible advent of a Pac-16, there has been speculation about the Big East seeking to bring in the five remaining Big 12 schools (Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State) as part of an expanded football league in 2012. TCU will join the Big East next season.
_ Jimmy Burch