Arkansas doesn't have votes to get nto big 12 but could if TV money is right?
This summer's conference expansion might not be finished.
Arkansas' interest in the Big 12 goes beyond Jerry Jones, reports OrangeBloods.com, which broke much of the news about the Pac-10's plan to add six teams from the Big 12 South.
Arkansas doesn't have the votes among the Big 12 schools to join right now, according to the report, but the league might be willing to expand if the television money was right.
The Lawrence Journal-World reported Wednesday that Jones wanted Arkansas and Notre Dame in the Big 12. That makes sense, because Cowboys Stadium will lose the Big 12 championship unless the conference returns to the 12 teams necessary to hold a title game.
But sources close to Jones told OrangeBloods.com that he has nothing to do with Arkansas' decision-making or conference realignment in general. "He's got too much else to do," one of the sources close to Jones said.
Whether or not that's true, one Big 12 executive source told the website that Arkansas "definitely put feelers out" about joining the conference. Another executive added Arkansas was "a long shot." A third said, "If anybody can make the math (money) work, it's Jerry Jones."
The third executive told OrangeBloods.com that he believed adding Arkansas would only make sense if the Big 12's TV partners, ABC/ESPN and FSN, paid more money to accommodate the extra team -- possibly with Jones chipping in.
Losing Arkansas could prompt the SEC to add a team, or expand to 14 or 16 teams. That could put Notre Dame back in play. A source close to the discussions between Notre Dame and the Big Ten over the past month told OrangeBloods.com that Notre Dame would stay independent unless it looked like super-conferences were forming.
If Notre Dame felt it had to join a conference, it might be interested in the Big 12 because it could pursue its own television network there, OrangeBloods.com notes. The Irish couldn't do so in the Big Ten, which has its own conference network.
Furthermore, Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick and Texas AD DeLoss Dodds have a "very close relationship," a source close to Dodds told OrangeBloods.com. Dodds has served as a mentor to Swarbrick since he became Notre Dame's AD two years ago.
It should be noted that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said Tuesday that the conference had no plans to expand. However, two of the Big 12 executives who spoke to OrangeBloods.com said they feared they'd be pressured to add two more teams from Texas.
"There will be a push by state schools like the University of Houston, especially among lawmakers and at the regent level, to get into the Big 12," a source told the website.
Sure enough, The Associated Press reported Thursday that about two dozen Texas lawmakers are supporting efforts to get Houston admitted to the Big 12.
But Beebe has said that if the Big 12 were to expand, it would seek to enlarge its geographical footprint. That would rule out adding Houston, but not Arkansas or Notre Dame.
So don't settle on new conference names or divisions quite yet, as the wheeling and dealing could continue.