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Nine is enough?

Gazette staff September 28th, 2011

California, here we don’t come. Right back where we started from … in the old, reliable Big 12.

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents recently gave President David L. Boren the authority to negotiate all alignment options, prompting a largely anticipated move to the Pacific-12 with Oklahoma State University and possible other Big 12 cohorts. But before Pistol Pete loaded up the Sooner Schooner and moved to Beverly — er, Walnut Creek, Calif., home of the Pac-12 — the Okies heard discouraging words late Sept. 20 from the West Coast.

“After careful review, we have determined that it is in the best interests of our member institutions, student-athletes and fans to remain a 12-team conference,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a prepared statement on Sept. 20.

OU Regent Max Weitzenhoffer told okgazette.com Sept. 21 that he’s not happy about OU being shut out of the Pac-12. The conference includes the likes of Stanford University and the University of Southern California.

“I’m very disappointed that we didn’t get to go to the Pac-12, because as a conference, it is both aca-  demically and athletically superior to ours,” said Weitzenhoffer, adding that OU didn’t have much choice besides staying in the Big 12, which Chicken- Fried News has dubbed the Neutered 9.

Boren, head coach Bob Stoops and athletics director Joe Castiglione formed a unified front Sept. 22, announcing the resignation of Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe and the tapping of ex-Big 8 honcho Chuck Neinas as interim commissioner. And, um, they were happy to stay because of a new TV agreement.

“The grant of rights really has teeth in it,” Boren said, according to The Norman Transcript. “When you’ve granted your rights, anything you get in revenue being broadcast through the media goes back to the Big 12. These are very strong handcuffs and really binds the conference together and shows we mean to stay together.”

Ryan Chittum, an OU alum writing for the Columbia Journalism Review, blamed ESPN for the disintegration.

“Its Longhorn Network deal with the University of Texas kicked off the mess, sending Texas A&M to the (Southeastern Conference) because they’re so mad about the deal, which gives Texas $300 million over 20 years, puts a conference game on the network, and wants to show high school games and highlights (ever seen a ticked-off Aggie? It’s not pretty),” Chittum wrote. “The idea of a school-only network played a role last year in sending the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the Big Ten. That helped lead Colorado to leave for the Pac-12 and left the Big 12 near death, having lost a quarter of its members, including two premier ones.”

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