Sports

Pac-12 Looks to Reel in Big Fish: Oklahoma, Texas and More

| by Alex Groberman

As unimpressive as the Pac-12 proved to be on the field during the inaugural weekend of college football, that’s how masterful it appears to be off of it as rumors continue to persist about potential additions – namely the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns.

The Sooners are creeping nearer and nearer to their new Pac-12 digs, a report in The Oklahoman by Berry Tramel noted on Saturday. Although there were initially murmurs about Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott meeting with Oklahoma officials about a possible restructuring this weekend, as it turns out, no meeting was necessary.

Rather, the No. 1 ranked team in the country going into the first weekend of college football merely made it clear that they wanted to move and would do whatever was necessary to make the process smoother – thus making a meeting of the minds to discuss the fine points moot.

Instead, it appears as though Scott will use his next few days to try to sell other Big 12 powerhouses like Texas, the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Oklahoma State Cowboys on the benefits of the Pac-12. If all goes according to plan, the conference hopes to solidify themselves as an official superconference with the addition of all four prominent programs.

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And, of course, while Scott and the Pac-12 are busy grinding away, the Big 12’s dying breed of loyalists like Missouri athletic director Mike Alden can already see the writing on the wall.

"It's somewhat surprising that comment came out because I know everybody's been working together," Alden said in reference to Oklahoma publicizing their intentions of identifying new suitors. "You put something like that out there and it just reinforces that image of being unstable. How do you recover from that? I don't know."

Most believe that if Oklahoma goes, Oklahoma State will follow. Given the way that the Sooners have all but made it clear that their move to the Pac-12 is imminent, those two teams appear to be a lock to leave their current situation. Now, Scott and his gang of recruiters are expected to lay out the red carpet for the Longhorns, who add a certain layer of complication to the proceedings because of their newly-established Longhorn Network.

As per that report by Tramel, however, the network isn’t expected to be sticking point.

All of these dramatics off the field relating to the Pac-12 serve in stark contrast to the blandness that accompanied the conference’s games in Week 1 of play.

The Oregon Ducks, widely regarded as a potential National Championship contender fell in embarrassing fashion to a shorthanded, distracted LSU Tigers bunch. The Oregon State Beavers were similarly unimpressive against an FCS also-ran club in the Sacramento State Hornets. Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA Bruins stumbled versus the Houston Cougars and the USC Trojans -- despite earning a win -- looked completely discombobulated against the Minnesota Gophers.

It’s still early but, aside from Andrew Luck’s Stanford squad, it’s hard to imagine the Pac-12 having much to boast about this year in terms of on the field production in 2011.

As it turns out, these conference restructuring talks couldn’t have come at a better time. With everyone analyzing the details about four potentially huge additions, the topic of how substandard the Pac-12 looked in the early going appears to be falling by the wayside.