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CU move leaves Baylor with one last gasp

Baylor's future as a member of a major conference is on the clock. The Pac-10 has officially announced that Colorado has accepted an invitation to join the conference, which all but ends Baylor's hopes of joining Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State out west if the Big 12 dissolves.

"The Pac-10 made up a plan to get rid of the Baylor issue and get Colorado in there first," a Big 12 source said.

Baylor and Texas Tech officials, a Big 12 source said, will attend a meeting of the Texas and Texas A&M boards in Austin later today to discuss the future of the Big 12.

Baylor is desperate to remain linked with the three other Texas schools in the Big 12. With Colorado running an end-around to quickly join the Pac-10, Baylor's hopes now rest with Texas convincing everyone to stay put in a 10-member league, or look to expand it back to 12.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has stated recently that the Big 12 doesn't need a football championship game, which would suggest there is some thought at least to going with a 10-team conference. A conference must have at least 12 teams to play a championship game.

Baylor certainly had hopes of convincing the other Texas schools to fight for it to become a member of the Pac-10 if the Big 12 were to disintegrate. But that was before Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott and Colorado made a mad push to get Colorado in first.

Clearly the Pac-10 wanted Colorado over Baylor all along. Colorado delivers the Denver market. Baylor might add better all-around athletic and academic programs, plus new state-of-the-art facilities, but expansion is all about targeting television markets.

Baylor will now make a strong plea to Texas, A&M and Tech to keep the Big 12 alive. A 10-team Big 12 would be easy to reconfigure.

The Big 12 currently has two TV agreements. Its contract with Fox expires in 2011-12, and its deal with ESPN-ABC expires in 2015-16. According to one Big 12 source, Fox has delivered figures for a future deal with differing numbers for how the conference might look. For instance, there's a figure if Nebraska is out, another if Nebraska and Colorado are both out.

Baylor is crossing its fingers that a new TV deal, which will still be lucrative and actually pay more to each school if the league were to remain at 10, would be enough to convince Texas and the others to remain together. Under the current contract, Big 12 schools reap between $7 million to $10 million.

Under that scenario, Texas could continue to rule the roost as well as follow through with a plan for its own television network. For Baylor, it would mean remaining viable in a major conference.

A 10-team league would be easy to reconfigure. To keep Texas and A&M, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the same division, along with Baylor, Tech could make the move to the North Division with Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State.

Tech would likely applaud that scenario since it would escape competing with Texas and Oklahoma every year for the South Division championship. Of course, without a championship game, there's not really a reason to divide a 10-team league into two divisions.

It's Baylor's last gasp. Is it feasibile? We'll soon find out. Colorado was the first shoe to drop. The second, Nebraska, will reportedly make its intentions to move to the Big Ten official on Friday. Then the Big 12 will be reduced to 10 teams and the heat will be on to make a decision.

Either the Big 12 pulls itself up and carries on, or the exodus to the Pac-10 begins and Baylor is left out.