Yesterday I made the mistake of believing something that a Big 12 official said. When Oklahoma's president David Boren said that the remaining nine members of the Big 12 had given a six-year grant of rights to the league, I turned off the press conference and went to wrestle with my two boys. (This is the highlight of all three of our days). The reason the six-year grant of rights would be a big deal? If a school does this it's giving away its television rights, first and second tier, for the next six years. Given the money at stake that acts as a way to bind the membership together. If this happened then the Big 12 would be stable for six years. So I took President Boren at his word and logged off my computer for the day.
Only this is the Big 12.
That wasn't actually true.
Later the Missouri spokesperson told Pete Thamel of the New York Times: “It’s my understanding that there was no agreement, the agreement was to pursue that as a potential outcome.” Which, you guessed it, isn't an actual agreement. Then another Big 12 official said the league was in "philosophical agreement," but no committments had actually been made.
Philosophical agreement? Is this ancient Greece or the Big 12? You can't even make up these quotes any longer. The Big 12 is officially past the point of satire. The only people celebrating after today? Aggie fans all over Texas are building bonfires and rejoicing, their long Texas nightmare is almost over. These dueling press conferences just proved why the Aggies wanted out so bad.
But you can't say the same for Missouri.
The Tigers have managed to be the biggest loser in conference realignment the past two years. First, they bungled a chance at the Big Ten. No one really knows what happened here, just that Missouri blew it. Second, the Tigers may well have blown all their chances at the SEC as well. Granted Missouri didn't know that the Pac 12 was going to Heisman the Oklahoma schools, but leaking the SEC invite really pissed the SEC off and titillated its own fan base with dreams of something brighter. Now just one question remains: will the Missouri fan base raises a stink over the administration's failure to make a move to the SEC?
If I was a Missouri fan I'd be furious over this double failure. I'd fight for the SEC. Because the Big Ten isn't calling and at some point the Big 12 is still going to crumble as a major conference. We all know this. So if you're Missouri wouldn't you rather control your own fate rather than sink into the mid-tier abyss of college athletics?
Mountain West on line one!
Put another way, if you'd known the Titanic was going to sink, would you have climbed aboard and risked your chances on hopping on the lifeboats? Or would you maybe have not gotten on the Titanic to begin with? The Big 12 is the Titanic, and the iceberg is Texas. The Big 12 is sinking, the only question is when.
That's why if you're a Missouri fan you absolutely, positively have to make your displeasure known. Based on the emails, Tweets, and Facebook messages I'm getting from you guys, you don't want to be in the Big 12 any longer. Now that you've got a chance to leap, this is your time. You either do it now or you risk the Mountain West, or worse, in the future. It's to the point where not leaping to a new conference is the truly risky move. Given the weakness of the current Big 12 bylaws, the instability of the existing conference, Texas's continued boot heel on the throat of conference membership, the fact that everyone is lying about everything, and that your coach is openly campaigning against the conference, it's now or never.
Jump, Missouri, jump.
For those of you who say fan opinion doesn't matter, I'd direct you to Texas A&M. The Aggie anger over A&M's veering away from the SEC at the last moment was a big part of the decision to join the SEC this year. A&M knew its fanbase would stand steadfast through a trying departure. That's because A&M fans were demanding the school leave. This wasn't a top down decision, this was a bottom up decision, Aggie fans took control of their own fate.
Missouri fans need to do the same.
In the meantime, let's catalogue the Big 12 lies over the past two days:
1. ESPN's Big 12 conflict, which the network denies, is finally being noted by the Columbia Journalism Review.
Here's the opening to the article for one of the most esteemed journalism reviews in the country:
"If you cover college sports for ESPN, you’ve got a real problem right now.
The biggest story these days is the conference realignment that’s bringing tectonic shifts to the NCAA landscape, ending century-old rivalries, and setting longtime partners at each others’ throats.
Problem is, ESPN itself is at the heart of why this is happening."
The only thing the Columbia Journalism Review should have done that it didn't? Point out that OKTC is one of the only sites in America that has been hammering this fact for the past month. This conflict is a major, major story. Yet hardly any media entity has even taken note of it. Just another reason college fans should consume media very skeptically.
2. Oklahoma claimed that it was a double agent, secretly intending all along that its goal was to stay in the Big 12.
Seriously, the university said this.
If Oklahoma was a double agent, it's got a lot more in common with Austin Powers than it does James Bond.
Oklahoma double-agented itself into a worse conference, with less money, crappier opponents, and less academically accomplished students and universities.
I hope Oklahoma "double-crosses" me into my own private island and a $100 million a year salary.
The worst part of this for Sooner fans? By leaking a story like this you probably polluted your chances of ever joining the Pac 12. So what real options does Oklahoma have to leave Texas and Big 12 behind? Put simply, none.
I feel sorry for y'all having such awful leadership. I really do.
3. Oklahoma's president said the Big 12 had given a six-year grant of rights.
As you've seen above, that is not true.
What's most troubling about this is that Oklahoma president David Boren said this immediately after exiting the Big 12 telephone conference call. So how did he make a mistake like this? Either he's lying or he didn't understand the telephone conversation.
Either should terrify Oklahoma fans. This is who you've got behind the wheel? Uh oh.
4. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds opened his mouth.
Everything that Texas says is a lie at this point. You shouldn't believe any of it. The Longhorns only care about the Longhorns. Worst of all for the Big 12? Somehow this entire conference mess has actually strengthened Texas. How so? The bully found out that none of the Big 12 schools have any other options.
You thought Texas was a bully before? You ain't see nothing yet.
That's why Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M fans have to be watching this whole soap opera unfold with big grins on their faces. All three schools got out of the Big 12 and found better destinations. The rest of the poor saps in the Big 12 are on the Titanic. Good luck surviving that plunge into icy waters.
If I was a Missouri fan I would cling to that statement as tightly as I could. I'd try and ratchet up the pressure on my administration to such a degree that they became afraid of staying in the Big 12 for fear of alienating their fan base.
Quoth the chancellor on the SEC: “That’s again a hypothetical that could occur. In a sense anything is possible. That’s all recognized and that’s what has led to the discussions that we’ve had over the last several weeks.”
Later, another Missouri administrator was pressed on whether the Tigers might join the SEC: "You will not look stupid by insinuating that.”
No, you'll only look stupid by staying in the Big 12 when you had a chance to leave.
6. The Big 12 hired the man, Chuck Neinas, who recommended over half of the current athletic directors for their jobs.
Cue the dysfunction jokes.
The only thing that could make this more dysfunctional is if the Big 12 hires Neinas's search firm to find a new commissioner and, after pocketing half a million dollars, he recommends himself. Paging Cheney, Dick.
7. It's so bad that even when the conference tries to make positive statements about its future, those statements end up sounding like longed for prison furloughs.
Describing the television grant of rights, Oklahoma's president said: “These are very strong handcuffs."
Handcuffs, indeed. Do you know what the buyout is for the SEC? $0. There isn't one. You know why? Because no one wants to leave.
The Big 12's future has been full of questions for weeks, but now the only question left is this one: will Missouri fans voluntarily wear the shackles or take up arms against them?
Your call, Tigers.
If you're interested in FSU, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Duke, N.C. State, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, et al. basically we've talked about how conference realignment impacts all these schools in the below articles. Just scroll through and you'll be entertained and informed. I promise.
Read all of OKTC's conference realignment stories here.