Dueling Reports Circulate on Big 12's Fate

Chip Brown says that his sources have Texas deciding to keep the band together and commit to a future in the ten-team Big 12. Joe Schad says that his sources have Texas, Tech, OU, and OSU about to head out the door. Who to believe?

Schad has the stronger report, based on the weasel words metric. He quotes his sources as using phrases like a "zero" chance for the Big 12 to survive and Dan Beebe's plan being "very unlikely" to succeed. He also gives a firm deadline: no later than Tuesday for announcements to come down.

Brown's report is somewhat softer. While he says that Texas "has been convinced" by Beebe's plan, his deadline is "as early as Monday." That can be translated as "between Monday and Armageddon." If no announcement comes today, he's covered. If no announcement comes by the end of tomorrow, Schad's sunk.

Beyond that, cocknfire and I are both convinced that schools are using the media to fight things out. Brown's early reports had Nebraska as the bad guy, saying that if the Huskers left, the Big 12 would die. That sort of thing would soften the image of Texas shopping itself around. However, the fact that Beebe's getting an audience now shows that wasn't the case. Nebraska fired back during its Big Ten press conference, saying that one team leaving doesn't kill a conference, but six teams leaving does. It also claimed that Missouri's looking around at other leagues prompted its own looking around. This came shortly after Mizzou sent letters to the press saying it was a proud and committed Big 12 member. Everyone's posturing.

Now, Brown's report is painting Texas A&M as the potential bad guy:

So either Texas A&M will consider Beebe's plan to rescue a 10-member Big 12. Or A&M will most likely end 100 years of tradition with rival Texas by heading to the SEC, likely triggering a exodus west of Texas, OU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and possibly Kansas. The Aggies can be seen as the final piece of the puzzle to holding the Big 12 together.

If you get through the improper punctuation there, Brown is saying that Texas A&M will "most likely" flee to the SEC and therefore kill the Big 12. This is despite A&M athletics director Bill Byrne telling ESPN on Saturday that "it is still our choice to keep the remaining ten Big 12 schools together if we can." Brown also forgoes a veneer of impartiality by telling A&M that "it's your move" multiple times in his piece.

Of course, ESPN is not some outside observer to the situation. I've explored that previously. Stewart Mandel of SI points out though that it's probably in ESPN's best interest for the Big 12 to stay together. ESPN can make money off of broadcasting Pac-10 and Big 12 games on its networks, but it can't make money off of the Pac-10 Network that's supposedly brewing under Fox's watch.

For now, I give the edge to Schad. What he's reporting is to the detriment of his employer, while Brown's report is biased, has weasel words, and tries to paint his main beat in a better light. It won't be too much longer before we know for sure which, if either of them, is right.

UPDATE

Schad just tweeted this not that long ago:

[Chip Brown] is reporting that Texas has decided to save the Big 12. Certainly possible, though the Big 12 didn't know this earlier today

Schad cited "four sources within the Big 12" for his report, so this does open the door for both guys to be right. Schad could be spot on regarding what the Big 12 offices know, and Brown could be right about what Texas officials know. All this does is show that Schad's report is not a direct contradiction of Brown's. Everything else is still on the table.

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