Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.
On the heels of recent rumors regarding the Pac-10’s plans to invite six Big 12 schools to leave their current home for a new superconference, the Big 12 is looking for assurances that all of its current members are committed to the conference. At the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City this week, nine of the 12 schools gave their commitment to the Big 12, but the three schools with the likeliest chances of invites elsewhere – Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska – declined to do so. As a result, the remaining Big 12 schools have issued an ultimatum to all three schools, mostly focused on Nebraska, to either commit fully to continued membership in the Big 12 or else be ready to watch it dissolve. While there is no reason that any commitment these schools give to the Big 12 would be in any way binding and there is no “or else” necessarily specified, reading between the lines it looks like if the six schools tied to the Pac-10 rumors do not get assurances from Nebraska that they will remain Big 12 members, those six schools will pursue their opportunities with the new Pac-10 superconference. So, while the Big 12 feels that can withstand the loss of Missouri and that Colorado isn’t going anywhere without other members of the conference, if Nebraska is not ready to commit to the rest of the conference and foreswear possible Big Ten membership, the invited six are ready to join up with the Pac-10.
In a related story, there is also news that the Texas state legislature is at it again, mixing it up in inter-collegiate sports in an attempt to save Baylor from being left behind. Orangebloods.com is reporting that there is a group of Texas lawmakers trying to make a push to force the Big 12 to take Baylor instead of Colorado, by doing something like not allowing Texas to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 if Baylor is not invited as well. Also, it seems that rather than deal with a big legal and political hassle, the Pac-10 would be willing to substitute Baylor for Colorado, despite the desire for the lucrative Denver television market. This, of course, has happened before with Baylor. When the Southwest Conference broke up in the mid 90s, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor were offered invitations to join the Big 8 schools, creating the Big 12. It was then-Texas-governor Ann Richards, a Baylor alum, who insisted that Baylor be included in any plan with Texas state universities joining the Big 8 schools. This time around, it may be new Baylor president Ken Starr (yes, THAT Ken Starr) who is leading the charge to keep Baylor tied to the hips of the other Big 12 Texas schools.