Chet Edwards touts “tsunami of political pressure” as cause for failure of Big 12-PAC 10 merger
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Edwards’ office is distributing an AP story out of New York. The longtime Waco congressman is facing a tough reelection campaign against Republican Bill Flores, not that politics would have anything to do with Edwards’ touting his potential role in “saving” the Big 12. The story follows: Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott says he has no animosity toward Texas for declining an invitation to join his league and at no point did he think his grand expansion plan was a done deal. Scott said in a telephone interview Wednesday that he never felt he had an agreement with Texas and the four other Big 12 schools he was trying to add to the Pac-10. The conference would have become a 16-team league had Texas joined with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. The Pac-10 had already landed one Big 12 school in Colorado. “In my experience in professional sports and college sports, nothing’s ever done until it’s done,” Scott said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press, his first since the Pac-10’s bold attempt to expand failed. “We developed this plan with our eyes wide open,” he said. “We knew that this would be seen as a very bold stroke and there would be all kinds of reasons why it might not be possible at the end. “I think there was a sense that this was an incredibly compelling vision and certainly created a lot of excitement among the schools that we were talking to as well as our members. And it captured a lot of other people’s attention as well.” Hours after Scott spoke to the AP, the Pac-10 announced that it had invited Utah to become its 12th member. Utah officials have not said what they will do, but the school has announced a news conference for tomorrow and it would be shocking if Utah did not leave the Mountain West for the Pac-10. Scott said when the news came down that Texas and the rest were not joining the Pac-10, he called Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe to congratulate him for saving his conference. The Big 12 also lost Nebraska to the Big Ten, but will remain as a 10-team league. Scott said he believes the expansion to 16 teams with Texas leading the way failed for three reasons. “Number One, I think there was a tsunami of Texas political pressure from Texas A&M and Baylor,” he said. “Secondly, it’s clear there was a great national fear that such a compelling plan would cause dramatic domino affects nationally, with other conferences.” Lastly, Scott added that he was given some strict parameters to work with by the university leaders who hired him about a year ago. “My marching orders were clear. There are essential principles and values the Pac-10 holds true to that we were not going to compromise as part of trying to get a deal done.” Scott would not elaborate, but it’s worth noting that in the Pac-10 revenue is shared equally between members and in the Big 12 the most successful programs such as Texas and Oklahoma make more than the others. By staying in the Big 12, Texas will be allowed to start its own television network and keep all revenues from it. Scott said that would not have been the case if Texas joined the Pac-10. “Schools ultimately make decisions for what’s best for them,” he said. “We presented a vision of what the future of the modern collegiate conference might look like and I was absolutely thrilled with the reception that it got and the excitement that it created nationally and it really validated that it is a compelling vision. * * * * Well, it wouldn’t be the first time that political pressure was applied to the organization of the football conference in which UT and A&M played. That said, I remain dubious about how much politics had to do with what happened. I think that the “share and share alike” policy of the PAC 10 toward revenue (meaning that UT could not have its own TV network) had a lot more to do with it. I was struck by Scott’s phrasing that there was a tsunami of political pressure FROM A&M and Baylor. Now that’s odd. I can understand why there was pressure from Baylor. They were desperate. But why would there be pressure FROM A&M? They wanted to go to the SEC. Maybe Scott meant that there was pressure ON A&M. And if that was the case, it might mean that Perry got involved after all, even if he was in China.