Livin' large in the Pac-12 ... er, 16 Conference?

An earthshaking day brings a thunderbolt: Oklahoma and others may soon join the Pac.

September 03, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Running back Roy Finch and Oklahoma might be heading to the Pac-12 Conference, and it appears nothing can stop them, including Tulsa's Milton Howell.
Running back Roy Finch and Oklahoma might be heading to the Pac-12 Conference,… (Sue Ogrocki / Associated…)

The season and the skies opened in a concurrent torrent of wild weekend plays, wind, monsoons, sweltering heat and speculation.

Thor must have performed half the pregame coin flips.

Rain poured down stadium steps in Iowa and lightning in South Bend chased Notre Dame's fans from their seats. It only extended the agony of drip-delayed defeat to South Florida.

Oregon cramped up against Louisiana State in the Dallas heat, and Boise State proved it belonged in the national title chase with a two-touchdown win over Georgia in Atlanta.

The most powerful thunder claps were heard in Oklahoma, where President David Boren's words possibly set in motion the next seismic shift in college football.

Hours after Boren boomed that Oklahoma was not going to be a "wallflower when all is said and done," the Oklahoma City paper, the Oklahoman, reported Saturday the school's sole focus was now moving to the Pacific 12 Conference.

This all happened in 10 minutes — ready for Pac-16, the do-over?

Texas A&M, annoyed with Texas for about 100 years, announced this week it planned to leave the Big 12. That, Agatha Christie, would reduce membership to nine.

It was written here Thursday that only Oklahoma and Texas bonded together could save the Big 12, but the crazy glue apparently didn't hold for even 72 hours.

Oklahoma is tired of Texas calling the shots — so the Sooners fired one. They don't want to be left in a weakened conference with games televised on the Longhorn Network.

So, the Sooners reportedly have reached out to the Pac-12 to restart the arms race to the first "super" 16 conference. Oklahoma and five other Big 12 schools were set to form the Pac-16 last year before the plan, in the 11th hour, blew up.

Commissioner Larry Scott adjusted by adding Utah and Colorado to become the Pac-12, but also insinuated it was only the beginning.

Colorado and Utah may be members of a future Pac-16 before they play their first games in the Pac-12.

How fast this all comes together or falls apart is minutes, days or weeks away. Boren said Oklahoma isn't waiting until Christmas to announce its intentions.

The ground is shifting fast.

If Oklahoma goes, the theory goes, the Big 12 goes. Oklahoma State likely signs on with the Pac-12, along with Texas and Texas Tech.

T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire who funds Oklahoma State, predicted the Big 12 isn't long for this world.

Commissioner Scott said only last month the formation of the Longhorn Network all but killed Texas' chance of joining the Pac-12. But he left just enough wiggle room in case things changed in a year or two.

He never imagined it might be a week or two.

Scott did not return phone calls this week, so you knew something was up.

He was in Dallas on Saturday representing Oregon in the Ducks' opener against Louisiana State. He told reporters before the game his league would take a wait-and-see approach to radical reconfiguration.

Scott, remember, is the guy who started all this. He's the man the Pac-10 hired to shake up the landscape. He decided to shoot for the moon.

"I've always said we'll listen if someone wants to come and talk to us," Scott said Saturday.

He added that schools have "reached out to us," and more conference expansion is inevitable "because of instability in certain parts of the country."

That would be Big 12 country.

Scott doesn't have to be proactive this time. He tried to break up the Big 12 last year. "Last year was different," he said Saturday.

This time he can wait and then act like he's taking in orphans.

Oklahoma was eerily quiet this week until Boren popped his cork, but once he did a pall fell over Big 12 headquarters.

If the Pac-16 becomes reality, Missouri probably sprints south to join Texas A&M in the SEC. Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor put out ads on Craigslist.

DeLoss Doss, Texas' powerful athletic director, told the Associated Press he loved the Big 12 but his school would be "fine" if the shop closed down.

The sport, on and off the field, was a thousand wildcats on a hot tin roof.

Utah State had a 10-point lead with only minutes remaining at Auburn but somehow lost it. It was like Cam Newton left behind one last magic pill. Auburn fans who left early crawled back to watch the comeback from the exit ramps.

Auburn paid Utah State $950,000 for a "paycheck" win that felt like a tie.

UCLA defenders, dripping in sweat, tackled like it was 1998 and they were playing Miami — except this time it was Houston.

Was it the first game in the last year for UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel? Six wins to bowl eligibility looks a lot further away than it did a few hours ago.

USC, entering its second year of probation, might need a third year for not putting Minnesota away at the Coliseum.

Sacramento State defeated Oregon State in overtime.

Call it shocking yes — but also call it "shock waves."

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