More moves seem likely as Pac-10 officials meet with Big 12 targets
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State met with officials from the Pac-10 on Saturday
Texas A&M is conflicted as to whether it should join the Pac-10 or the SEC
FedEx's CEO will reportedly pay $10M a year to land Memphis in a BCS conference
After 10 years of covering college sports, a few general rules have become obvious. Rule No. 47: When a school issues a press release admitting a little, it means a lot has already happened.
So allow me to translate the release produced Saturday night by the University of Oklahoma:
NORMAN -- University of Oklahoma President David Boren and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione had a very cordial and informative meeting today with Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott and deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg. It would not be appropriate to comment further on the content of the meeting at this time. There will be a special meeting of OU's board of regents Wednesday afternoon to weigh possible conference options available to the university.
Translation: NORMAN -- We're going to the Pac-10. Larry and Kevin came to check out logistics for the extravaganza of a press conference they'll hold sometime after the board of regents officially approves the move on Wednesday.
For the record, Texas and Texas Tech already have called meetings of their boards of regents. That means either a decision has been made, or there is very little doubt at the result of the vote. Oklahoma State received a visit from Scott as well Saturday as the commissioner of the sushi conference acquaints himself with the barbecue belt. (He's scheduled to make a Texas swing Sunday). Oklahoma State's regents have a regular meeting scheduled for Friday morning in Oklahoma City, but they could call a special meeting if they'd like to move faster. Texas and Texas Tech's regents will meet in Austin and Lubbock, respectively, on Tuesday.
As of now, the only Big 12 South school with a potential invitation to the Pac-10 that hasn't scheduled a meeting of its regents for next week is Texas A&M, and that's telling. The Aggies are trying to decide whether they should join the Pac-10 or the SEC, and they're genuinely conflicted. Despite some reports that a decision had been made, a source at an SEC school told SI.com late Saturday that Texas A&M regents remain on the fence. Texas A&M regent Gene Stallings told SI.com he isn't sure how the board would vote. "No one has polled me," said Stallings, who played for Bear Bryant at Texas A&M, then coached the Aggies and later led Alabama to a national title.
That informal poll could come soon, and a meeting for an official vote could be set this week. Texas state law requires three days' notice for such a meeting. Saturday, Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne sent an e-mail to fans asking for patience.
"Please let us continue to go through a thorough and thoughtful process," Byrne wrote. "Like you, we understand that this decision will impact us for decades. Let's not rush.
"Having said that, it is still our choice to keep the remaining 10 Big 12 schools together if we can. If we cannot do that, then we will do our best to do the right thing."
That last part seems like a pipe dream now, but with Baylor's influential supporters threatening legislative action, it's probably best to at least appear to have some interest in keeping the Big 12 from imploding.
Meanwhile, CBSSports.com reported some fascinating news from Memphis, Tenn. The site quoted "multiple sources close to the Memphis program" as saying FedEx CEO Fred Smith has contacted several BCS conferences and offered $10 million a year if a league will take Memphis out of Conference USA and into the promised land. FedEx recently withdrew its title sponsorship of the Orange Bowl.
While $10 million wouldn't equal a pro-rata share in the SEC -- which distributed $17.3 million to each of its 12 member schools last week -- or Big Ten ($19.9 million a school) and probably not in the ACC or the Pac-Whatever, it would be more than a pro-rata share in the Big East. At the Big East meetings last month, commissioner John Marinatto said the league's bylaws would not prohibit adding a 17th all-sports member. (Eight of the league's 16 schools sponsor football. That could be an intriguing possibility for Marinatto, whose league remains a target for a raid by the Big Ten, which added Nebraska on Friday but has not ruled out adding up to four more members.
It should be noted that Smith's son, Cannon, is a quarterback for the Tigers. In April, former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue began consulting for the Big East to help develop longterm strategies to monetize anything and everything. If the league could add a significant chunk of revenue by selling a spot to a dad looking for a better home for his kid's school, then Tagliabue is even smarter than we thought.