Report: Pac-16 conversations ‘heating up’; Texas could keep LHN

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Earlier this morning, we noted that Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman reported — sort of — that it was “almost certain” that Texas will be moving on to the Pac-12. No specific details were given involving the potential move, but we did question whether the school would be willing to give up full control over their newly-launched Longhorn Network.

Turns out, they may not have to.

The Austin-American Statesman, in joint effort with Hookem.com, is reporting that the Pac-12 is finalizing a deal with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that would officially bring the four into the conference, sources with knowledge of the situation say.

Furthermore, it looks like Texas would be able to keep the LHN with the only stipulation being that it also add Pac-16 content to its programming. UT would keep all revenue streams it earned from the network. The Statesman explains:

“The Longhorns would be able to keep all of their revenue from the network if that amount is greater than one-sixteenth of what the entire Pac-12 receives for its third-tier rights. However, if one-sixteenth of the money the Pac-12 receives from third-tier rights ends up being a larger amount, the schools would divide the revenue evenly and everybody would receive the same amount, the source said.”

When asked about the terms of the agreement, a high-ranking administrator from one of the four Big 12 schools told the Statesman “We can live with it.”

“It’s heating up. We’re trying to move in that direction (of joining the Pac-12),” the admin said.

Keeping control over the LHN is a huge priority for Texas, and such an agreement would act as an incentive for the LHN to do all it can to bring in as much third-tier revenue as possible. In either case, Texas appears to be guaranteed at least an equal split of what the other 15 members would be given from third-tier rights.

“Nothing has been definitively confirmed. But that’s in the zip code,” a source familiar with the discussions told the Statesman. “This is not yet a done deal. It appears that (Pac-12 commissioner) Larry Scott is going to be able to work some magic and help Texas keep the Longhorn Network and their revenue stream.”

As we’ve said before, any conference would pick up the phone if Texas called; it was just a matter of negotiating the terms of the Longhorn Network that provided the biggest roadblock.

If the details of this latest report are true, Scott would have found a way to make Texas happy (enough) while maintaining a sense of balance with the other conference members. Although no details were provided, it appears the “Pac-16” would still employ an equal revenue sharing policy for its first and second-tier media rights.

As for scheduling, the Statesman provides this explanation, courtesy of the Big 12 source:

“As of right now, the conference is discussing an alignment where teams would play nine conference games. Teams would play every other team in their pod along with two teams from each of the other three pods.

“If the Longhorns were in Pod A, they would play the other Pod A teams (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) every year. They would also play two teams from Pod B, Pod C and Pod D, bringing the total to nine conference games every year.”

Texas and Oklahoma have Board of Regents meetings tomorrow to discuss conference realignment issues. It is expected that UT president William Powers will be given authorization to pursue any and all decisions on conference affiliation.

Again, it should be emphasized that this is not a finalized deal, and the Doomsday clock on the conference realignment apocalypse hasn’t hit zero just yet. But if there’s any truth to these reports, the clock is indeed counting down.