The Pac-10 media day gave Larry Scott the opportunity to air out what exactly happened in the fast-paced negotiations to create the first super conference. From New York to Pasadena, he took the chance to tell his side of the story and take us behind the scenes of those crazy days in June.
We've made our own conjectures about what happened during conference expansion before, but allowing Larry Scott to share his grievances and get the last word is a fitting end to the saga.
Dennis Dodd was able to sit down with Scott at the Rose Bowl today to get his side of the story. The quotes contained here come from Dodd's article.
The first move in expansion didn't come from the Pac-10, it came from the Big Ten and their effort to create a superconference.
The Big Ten announced Dec. 15 that it was exploring expansion. That made it easier, he said, for him to attempt a mega move ahead of the Big Ten. For a few days, it seemed Scott had actually leapt over the Big Ten's Jim Delany in terms of leverage.
It was clear at the time -- and Scott confirmed -- that expansion into Texas wasn't a snap decision, it was months in the making.
"We weren't trying to publicize what we were doing," Scott said. "We were going about it for four months quietly behind the scenes. It's really Texas [that] leaked the plan as they were going into those Big 12 meetings in Kansas City, I think, hoping to keep Nebraska, hoping to keep the Big 12 together."
Scott had been in contact with Texas for quite some time, quietly working to secure the exodus of six Big 12 teams. It appeared to be working, all under the cover of silence. Texas, on the other hand, had different plans. After working with Scott for months, the Longhorns began leaking information to the media (Chip Brown specifically), knowing full well that Nebraska was about to leave and cripple the Big 12 in the process.
When an oath of loyalty from the Big 12 members was rejected -- by Missouri, Nebraska, and Colorado -- the Big 12 was all but done. The efforts of Texas to save the conference had failed, but Texas knew they had secured a landing spot in the Pac-10 all along. They were playing the game from both sides.
"We wanted to get Colorado first," Scott added. "We knew there were some political efforts in the state of Texas that might derail it. Time was of the essence. In 24 hours it went from happening to not happening. In hindsight with a few months to reflect, fundamentally it was Texas political issues that derailed it."
It may have seemed odd that Colorado was extended an invitation first, but the move was calculated and done with a clear purpose by Scott. The Pac-10 never wanted Baylor, and inviting Colorado was an attempt to keep the Texas legislature from forcing Baylor on the conference.
When asked by about what killed the deal, Scott made it clear he felt the Texas legislature ended the possibility of expansion into Texas.The deal was not, as reported at the time, struck down because Texas would've been prevented from starting their own TV network.
It has been reported that Texas was dissatisfied that it may not have been able to launch its own network if it joined the Pac-10. Scott said that issue was overblown and that something could have been worked out.
"At the end of the day I don't think it wouldn't have happened over a deal point, let's put it that way," he said. "There were bigger issues."
Would inviting Baylor over Colorado have saved the Pac-16? Maybe, but Baylor wasn't ever in the Pac-10's plans and making that kind of a concession wasn't an option. Immediately bending to the will of the Texas legislature would've gotten the conference off to a terrible start and perhaps lead to the same problems the Big 12 is currently facing.
With the Pac-16 dead, some thought the decision to add Utah and Colorado to form the Pac-12 may have been hasty and not thought out as well as it should have been. Scott says that wasn't the case; The conference had been exploring expansion to 12 all along.
"Candidly, we were working on 12-team models," Scott said. "It wasn't until the Big Ten and Jim [Delany] started talking about maybe more, 16, that all this chatter over the airwaves started what-if scenarios.
At the end of the day, Scott's vision of a superconference is over. He doesn't expect it to be brought up in the near future after the whirlwind few weeks in June. Through the process, Scott gained some on the job training in the behind the scene politics of college athletics. If the opportunity does arise again -- say when a certain Big 12 team doesn't get the money they were promised -- expect Scott to be right at the doorstep, ready to pounce. The experience he gained this time around may prove invaluable.
For more from Larry Scott, see Darren Rovell's interview.