PAC-10 EXPANSION: Dan Beebe's hail mary

Last night, word leaked that Dan Beebe was throwing a hail mary to save the Big 12, promising a new TV deal with revenues that approached that of the historic SEC deal. Texas, the big player in all of this, is apparently listening to Beebe's sales pitch, or are they? The folks at Burnt Orange Nation (H/T to jtlight) speculate that this is all a PR move by Texas. Texas has never wanted to be the bad guy in this, sitting back and watching the conference fall while putting out the appearance that they've done everything they could to save it. It's very likely that this is a move to show they pulled out all the stops to save the conference, before ultimately failing and joining the Pac-10.

A Big 12 TV deal approaching $17 million per school without a conference network doesn't pass the smell test. The conference just lost between 10-15% of their revenue when Nebraska and Colorado left for greener pastures. Colorado also took a lucrative, top 20 TV market with them to the Pac-10. Finally, losing 2 schools takes away the ability to host a conference championship game without petitioning the NCAA, causing the conference to take another $5-10 million hit. The biggest sales point in all of this is that each school would bring in around $17 million while still allowing the individual schools to negotiate their own TV rights, something Texas has always wanted to do. There is virtually no way the numbers can add up to make this happen with a 10 team Big 12.

In other news, Larry Scott and Kevin Weiberg visited Oklahoma and Oklahoma State yesterday before moving on to Texas A&M today. The Pac-10 heads are touring the Big 12 and presumably handing out invitations. Everything Larry Scott does is calculated. It's likely that he visits Texas either today or tomorrow, allowing him to get the final word in before the regents' meeting in Austin on Tuesday. There's something to be said for being able to leave the last impression before the powers that be make a final decision.

The presence of Weiberg is also a big part of the Pac-10 expansion. When Scott hired him, it was seen as a warning shot to the Big 12 that the Pac-10 was coming. Weiberg is a former Big 12 commissioner, preceding Dan Beebe, a Big 10 executive, and an all around major player in the NCAA. He knows the lay or the land, the school representatives, and the weak points of the Big 12. The way Scott has pursued expansion has been shrewd, but his hiring of Weiberg may be what deserves the most credit if this happens.

If Texas really does want to listen and mull over Beebe's offer, it's likely that Scott starts picking off the other Big 12 South schools in an effort to force Beebe's hand. Making any more of a dent in the Big 12 decreases the likelihood that the conference can survive and muster a large TV deal. Beebe is in severe desperation mode and is throwing out any and everything in an effort to save his job. In the meantime, Larry Scott is calmly and swiftly moving to ensure the best position for the Pac-10.

Edit: I forgot to include this article from the Seattle Times. Bud Withers talks to both Bill Moos and Scott Woodward about conference expansion. Moos and Woodward are both jumping up and down at the thought of a bigger Pac-10. Withers also addresses revenue and scheduling concerns that have been brought up everywhere. It's a very good read and gives some good insight into the Washington schools' perspective in all of this.

Update: Chip Brown confirms A&M turned down an invite to join the Pac-10 in his meeting with Larry Scott today. This doesn't mean the Big 12 will survive, but more likely means A&M will be joining the SEC. Oklahoma also issued a statement confirming Larry Scott and co. met with the school president and AD yesterday. It seems weird that a school admitted publicly that they were flirting with another conference.

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