Stillwater News Press

Our View

June 11, 2010

OUR VIEW: Cowboys should follow the Longhorns

STILLWATER, Okla. — Oklahoma State University continues to pledge allegiance to the Big 12 – a conference on life support and that may soon be declared athletically dead.

Colorado and Nebraska bolted Friday for the Pac-10 and Big 10, respectively.

A slew of defections are coming. The Pac-10 is courting Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and yes, OSU, to form a 16-team superconference. Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said no invitations beyond Colorado’s have been issued.

It’s unlikely the Southeastern Conference will idly watch the Pac-10 expand. So, OSU’s move to the Pac-10 isn’t a done deal, yet. If the Southeastern Conference successfully woos Texas, OSU could be a Southeastern Conference member.

Because you can expect the Cowboys to follow the Longhorns – just like cowboys in the Old West.

Why?

T. Boone Pickens: He has been a major benefactor for the University of Texas and OSU. Pickens has said he wants OSU to stay in the Big 12. He also has said he will support any decision Cowboy Athletic Director Mike Holder and OSU President Burns Hargis make.

Recruiting: Oklahoma State gives scholarships to a lot of Texas athletes. The Cowboys need to maintain ties with Texas schools to recruit effectively in the state. Texas high school recruits want a chance to play for or against the Longhorns.

Big paydays: A Pac-10 or Southeastern superconference with Texas as a member will retain its Bowl Championship Series affiliation. If a Texas-less Big 12 conference is re-established with holdover and new members, it probably will lose its BCS affiliation and the big bowl money and national football championship that go with it.

Television and the money it brings: TV will follow the Longhorns because UT has a large, loyal fan base and tradition of winning. If Texas signs up, the Pac-10 superconference immediately has nationally televised, BCS-changing games every week. National exposure is a problem in the Pac-10 – partly because of late starting times on the West Coast and a lack of nationally recognized programs. Southern Cal has maintained a high profile for years. The other schools aren’t as consistently good. Colorado’s defection already has cost the Big 12 one of the biggest television markets in the nation. If Texas jumps ship, the major TV markets in Dallas and Houston will follow the Longhorns to whatever conference they join.

History: The Big Eight conference always was Oklahoma, Nebraska and the little six. It didn’t raise to national prominence til the Southwest Conference crumbled and Texas and the three other Texas schools joined to create the Big 12.

It’s too early to say the Big 12 is dead. It’s not too early to proclaim that if it dies, all its best exes will follow Texas.

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