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Big 12 Staying Intact: OU Press Conference Notebook

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NORMAN, Oklahoma – OU president David Boren, athletic director Joe Castiglione and football coach Bob stoops met with the media to talk about the future of the Big 12 conference on Thursday.

While the biggest announcements were the removal of Dan Beebe as commissioner and the agreement of a six-year grant of rights contract to keep teams in the league, there were several other hot topics that were discussed.

Driving The Train

Many described the actions of Oklahoma and Texas over the past few weeks of conference negotiations as a bit of a power struggle, but Boren wanted to clear the air on the subject.

"OU has no ambition to ‘drive the train' for the Big 12," he said. "Those conferences that have been the most stable is where everyone is valued equally. We don't want any one university dominating the Big 12.

Oklahoma reportedly laid down several ultimatums in order for the Sooners to remain in the Big 12 conference. They wanted Dan Beebe out as commissioner, and they wanted a re-working of the Longhorn Network.

Texas' $300 million Longhorn Network deal was the subject of much controversy when the Big 12 began became shaky in the first place earlier this year, and seemed to contribute – at least in part – to Texas A&M heading for the SEC.

Don't Count On The Aggies

Boren said that Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was in on Thursday's big conference call, despite the fact that the Aggies are likely headed to the SEC.

However, Boren said that fact should hold no impact on whether the Aggies would consider staying in the Big 12.

Texas A&M has stressed repeatedly that they do not plan to be a member of the Big 12 after this season.

The Aggies still face potential lawsuits from remaining Big 12 schools if they continue to work their way out of the conference. Boren said those lawsuits would likely be one of the talking points of the upcoming special committee designated to further strengthening the Big 12.

Eyes On Expansion

The conference's expansion committee was re-activated and consists of five people: OU's Joe Castiglione, Texas' DeLoss Dodds, Kirk Schulz of Kansas State, Missouri's Brady Deaton and OSU's Burns Hargis.

Boren wouldn't speculate on which teams the committee has discussed or which teams he would like to see the conference pursue.

Hargis, a member of the expansion committee, recently listed several teams off to the Associated Press as potential Big 12 add-ons, including TCU, Houston, SMU, BYU, Utah and Air Force. Hargis added, "we've talked about a lot of ideas."

Bob Stoops and Joe Castiglione

Stoops and Castiglione were both present at the press conference but didn't have nearly as much to say as David Boren.

Stoops said he was pleased at the outcome and thought it was the best option for the players and their families due to the proximity of the other Big 12 schools and potential game times.

He also added that he's happy to keep the yearly rivalry with Texas.

Castiglione described the process that he and other OU administrators went through before committing OU to the conference.

"There were certainly a lot of items to thin through," he said. "They were very thoughtful, very deliberate, very diligent in processing every element as we examined what was best for the University of Oklahoma, for our program, most noticeably our student athletes and fans."

Boren called Castiglione and Stoops his two closest advisers during the conference realignment situation.

"We didn't need to bring in any outside consultants, because we have the two best consultants in the country when it comes to college athletics in-house," he said.

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