Over the past week, the stories of college football realignment have had more twists and turns than a daytime soap opera.
With Texas and Oklahoma officially leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, starting in 2025, Bob Bowlsby is now on the warpath. The Big 12 commissioner is adamant that ESPN is the one pulling the strings behind the moves.
However, Bowlsby takes it one step further, telling CBS Sports that ESPN is actively trying destroy the Big 12 in an effort to get Texas and Oklahoma out earlier than 2025. According to him, the network has tried coaxing the AAC to poach some of the remaining members of the Big 12.
“I am absolutely certain ESPN employees have discussed and provided incentives for at least one conference to raid 3-5 members from the Big 12,” Bowlsby said. “In doing so, they are prepared to reward them with future television proceeds. If the conference goes away as an entity, Oklahoma and Texas could be relieved from their exit obligations. Those obligations at this time would include the payment of $70M to $80M — two years full revenue — per school and leaving their media rights with the Big 12.”
And Bowlsby claims he has the evidence to back up the claims.
“We’re just not going to sit still and let somebody who is supposed to be our partner collaborate and disrupt our business. I know with certainty they are doing it relative to one conference. I suspect they have done the same thing in moving Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC.”
ESPN claims the accusations have no merit, but the Big 12 has still sent the company a cease and desist order.
“The Big 12 Conference demands that ESPN immediately cease and desist all actions that may harm the conference and its members and that it not communicate with the Big 12 Conference’s existing members or any NCAA conference regarding the Big 12 conference’s members, possible conference realignment or potential financial incentive or outcomes related to possible conference realignment.”
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