Superconferences still on hold as Pac-12 stays put

By Ralph D. Russo

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 21 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

A person familiar with the schools' discussions said Texas and Oklahoma officials are expected to meet in the next few days to negotiate an agreement to keep the universities in the league for at least the next five years. The person requested anonymity because the meeting had not been announced.

Whether other schools would be invited to join that meeting was unclear Tuesday night.

Scott tried to bring Oklahoma and Texas into his conference last summer, but his bid to create a superconference called the Pac-16 fell short when Texas decided to stay in the Big 12, in part to start its own network.

Nebraska and Colorado did leave the Big 12, but Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe managed to keep the conference together.

When the Longhorn Network became a reality, Texas A&M had had enough.

A&M, which flirted with the Southeastern Conference last year, reached out to the SEC and ended up being invited to join that league earlier this month. That deal has not yet been finalized because some Big 12 members, such as Baylor and Iowa State, have not waived the right to possibly sue Texas A&M and the SEC.

But if the Big 12 and its new 13-year, $1 billion television deal reached with Fox Sports in April survives, the exit should be clear for Texas A&M. And the rest of the Big 12 can go back to looking for a replacement.

Maybe newly independent in football BYU?

After the Pac-10 grew by two, adding Colorado and Utah from the Mountain West, the league negotiated a landmark 12-year television contract with Fox and ESPN worth about $3 billion, allowing the conference to quadruple its media rights fees and start its own network.

"We have a very good situation and a bright future," Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said.

It's hard to say for sure if this will put an end to conference realignment for a while. Many thought after last summer's maneuvering, things would settle down — and that barely lasted a year.

ACC Commissioner John Swofford has said his league is comfortable with 14 members, which it will have when Pitt and Syracuse join, but is not "philosophically" opposed to expanding to 16.

Despite their latest pledge to work together, the Big East still seems susceptible to another raid by the ACC or maybe the SEC.

Adding UConn and possibly Rutgers, located in New Jersey, would allow the ACC to further extend its reach into the Northeast and the New York City television market.

The SEC will be up to 13 schools when Texas A&M's move becomes official and even though it has said it can stay at the number, it seems logical to go to 14.

West Virginia and Missouri have both been speculated to be candidates and there were reports earlier Tuesday that the SEC and Missouri had a tentative agreement.

The SEC shot that down.

"The Southeastern Conference has not agreed formally or informally to accept any institution other than Texas A&M, and there have not been conference discussions regarding changes in divisional alignments," SEC associate commissioner Charles Bloom said.

With Texas and Oklahoma still around, there might not be a reason for Missouri to relocate.

Despite all the angst that realignment has caused many in major college athletics over the past month, sweeping change has seemingly been avoided.

AP College Football Writer Jeff Latzke in Oklahoma City, and AP Sports Writers Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, and Antonio Gonzalez and Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report. Follow Ralph D. Russo at http://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

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