Don't mess with … Pullman?
These are fascinating days for purveyors of dark comedy and comeuppance.
Tuesday night, as college football stood at the precipice of upheaval, the West told Texas, "go east."
It is simplistic to suggest Pac-12 presidents acted heroically when they rebuffed Texas and Oklahoma and their two political appendages.
"If the Pac-12 was able to structure terms that were favorable terms for the membership, they would have done it," Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson observed Wednesday.
That the decision turned out to be good for college football was a residual benefit.
There were scenarios in which the league would have expanded to 16 and other conferences may have crumbled, but it's OK to think Pac-12 university presidents were also magnanimous.
To be clear: Commissioner Larry Scott did meet with Texas and Oklahoma. A deal could have been done if not for some audacious behavior by the two schools.
The message, as one Bowl Championship Series executive familiar with the situation relayed it this week, was "Texas cannot be trusted."
The Pac-12 was willing to consider expansion again, but not on anyone else's terms.
The audacious part was Oklahoma and Texas acting as if it were to them to join the Pac-12, not the other way around.
Oklahoma President David Boren, a former U.S. senator, threw down the oratory gauntlet earlier this month when he pronounced the Sooners would not "be a wallflower."
Boren made it sound as if his school had an open invitation to the Pac-12. And, of course, Oklahoma State was welcomed to tag along. Boren told the Oklahoman newspaper only days ago that the Pac-12 was his school's "sole focus."
If only he had booked a reservation.
Texas also erred in thinking just being Texas trumped everything.
Scott met with Texas to see whether something special could be carved out. But there was a huge problem — the Longhorn Network. Texas, in conjunction with ESPN, launched its own network this year. It was controversial from the start and ultimately drove Texas A&M to the Southeastern Conference.
Texas Inc. thought it could transfer operations to its Pacific branch. However, the Pac-12 had just made equal revenue sharing a cornerstone of its new $3 billion network deal.
Many in the conference were appalled to read details of Texas' Pac-12 entry application in Sunday's Austin American-Statesman. The newspaper suggested a way Texas could join the Pac-12 while retaining the revenue from the Longhorn Network. The story had the financial breakdown and even the 16-team pod system that would make it all work.