My head is still spinning from all the gamesmanship that went down yesterday. Seems like the same is going down among the punditry across the country, where theorizing is rampant.
My take: No one person or entity was pulling the strings in all this. At the end of the day, I think there were so many competing interests tugging every which way that the best-laid plans just imploded.
*Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting
I disagree with Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports on plenty of things, but I think he nailed a major factor in all of this. Texas had no interest in ceding any local ground in recruiting to the Alabamas and LSUs of the world.
Note that Texas became awfully receptive to keeping the Big 12 together when Texas A&M's threat of joining the SEC started looking more like a promise. At the very least, the Aggies can take solace in throwing off UT's land run.
*Angels and Demons
Apparently, college football's illuminati worked behind the scenes to stop the westward move. If you needed any more evidence of how strongly college administrators oppose a playoff, there it is.
Inevitably, the Pac-16 would have led to four mega-conferences and a playoff.
By the way, here's a point where Wetzel doesn't sway me. A playoff may be more profitable than the current bowl structure. However, what about the enormous regular season TV contracts that the conferences are now collecting? The postseason and regular season still work in concert, and robbing one to pay the other doesn't necessarily mean more money.
As such, I question whether a playoff is a true solution to all this.
*All Politics are Local
Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman contends -- pretty persuasively -- that Lone Star State politics played a bigger role in this than people are letting on.
Like Tramel, I'm not buying the line that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe swooped in at the eleventh hour with some magical TV contract formed out of thin air and desperation.
Don't forget that Big 12 members have been talking for weeks now about a new deal on par with what the SEC got from ESPN. Dismiss that as posturing if you want. Yet, if you think that UT's athletic department hadn't already explored this supposedly sweet-ass option to keep the conference intact, then DeLoss Dodds and his cohorts in Austin aren't nearly as crafty -- or diligent -- as they're being give credit for.
As Tramel notes, a hearing scheduled for Wednesday hinted that the Texas legislature was ready to turn this into a political football. Plus, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is a devoted Aggie. Read the tea leaves, and keeping the politicos away from the fray is pretty sensible for all sides.
Spencer Hall of EDSBS illustrates how this entire situation is/was a game theorist's wet dream. We can all thank Heath Ledger for that.