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Earlier this year, the Big 12 Conference struck a 13-year, $1.1 billion deal with Fox to broadcast conference football games. But with the arrival of the Longhorn Network, and the possibility that more schools will jump ship, it seems optimistic to think the conference will be alive for 13 more years.The latest school that appears primed to find a new home is Texas A&M, which is currently in negotiations to become the 13th member of the Southeastern Conference. A&M would be the third school to leave the Big 12 in the last year, joining Nebraska (Big 10) and Colorado (Pac-12).
If Texas A&M joins the SEC, the Big 12 drops to nine schools. And there is already speculation that Oklahoma will be the next to join the SEC.
At that point, it would seem that the next logical step will be for the University of Texas to declare itself an independent. And it is the Longhorn Network, and the partnership between the University of Texas and ESPN that may be the final nail in the Big 12’s coffin.
A look at the Longhorn Network agreement between Texas and ESPN shows that there is incentive for both sides to see Texas go independent. ESPN would receive an exclusive negotiating window to for the rights to broadcast Texas football games as well as the opportunity to match any offer from another network.
Exclusive broadcast rights for ESPN as well as not having to share any BCS winnings with other conference members should more than make up for the money Texas would lose by leaving the Big 12.
First though, it is Texas A&M’s domino that must fall. But once it does the rest of the Big 12 conference will be left scrambling. And in the end, ESPN may get what they wanted all along: the University of Texas all to themselves.