It looks like ESPN/UT/LHN is going to end up being the end of the Big 12. I am one of those optimistic fools who thought that there would be enough new TV money to keep the Big 12 together despite the shenanigans of last year. I think that a conference can withstand losing a team or two if it is proactive about adding back or finding other ways to make up for the loss.
However, it appears to me that UT and ESPN have too much riding on the LHN. It's going to be a constant source of division amongst the Big 12 teams as it offers UT an advantage that even the other top tier programs don't have.
More thoughts from an Aggie perspective can be found here. I'm not familiar with the quality of David Sandhop, but he makes some good points and adds in something I didn't know:
He [Dan Beebe] hoped the edict would stop ESPN in its tracks and placate agitated conference members Texas A&M and Oklahoma that felt the LHN was expanding into programming areas that violated the spirit of the conference agreement cobbled together hastily last year in the face of realignment rumors that threatened to destroy the conference.
Since that pronouncement by Beebe, the big issue really focuses on the response of ESPN which is the entity absorbing the financial and business risk for the LHN. After all, how can the Big 12 or any conference dictate to ESPN the games they can or can’t televise that were purchased and the rights secured? Well, based on recent moves by the sports leader, ESPN doesn’t believe the Big 12 can interfere in their programming choices and the ability to make a profit. After the Beebe announcement, ESPN and the LHN finalized contracts with Brenham High School and Lamar Consolidated to become the first high school football broadcast on the network. The Longhorns currently have two verbal commitments from that Brenham team, linebacker Tim Cole and highly-regarded defensive lineman Malcolme Brown.
Pearland Dawson officials indicated last week that the LHN has contacted the school inquiring about the possibility of airing one of their games this fall. The school is home to highly-rated offensive lineman Kennedy Estelle who happens to also be a Texas verbal commitment. There have been others similar reports of ESPN contacting high schools across the state about broadcasting games
Whether the NCAA decides to eliminate high school broadcasts on team-specific networks is really moot at this point. ESPN basically showed its poker hand to the Big 12 through its actions last week. They will not respect the authority of the Big 12 Commissioner.
And what I didn't know and found to be interesting:
Apparently, Oklahoma was told by several SEC sources that a future deal including Oklahoma State was highly unlikely...that they would need to split if they wanted to be seriously considered for inclusion. That explains recent rumors that OU has been inquiring about the PAC-12’s interest level in expanding the conference with both Oklahoma schools. If that doesn’t pan out, then the Sooners may come back to the SEC and consider working the politics of splitting with OSU. But, Missouri is ready to go now and if the chips start falling pretty soon, it looks like Missouri could be in line to get that western division SEC spot along with the Aggies.
What is also helping out Missouri's cause right now is that Arkansas is pushing the SEC to take both Missouri and A&M as a package. For the Razorbacks, that would be a great addition with the proximity of both schools and the built-in rivalries along with the enhanced recruiting possibilities in Texas and Missouri.
Sigh. As much as it pains me to say it, the Aggies were right all along. UT's arrogance is going to be the death of the Big 12. Where do you think the schools end up?