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The news about the Longhorns, Sooners and the rest of the Big 12 South powers staying put was especially good for Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State and Missouri -- the five schools in danger of being left homeless if the conference dissolved.
Baylor football coach Art Briles, a Texas native who has spent his entire career in the Long Star state, put it this way: "I got resuscitated. You can take your hands off my chest. ... I'm extremely excited, it's like being given new life."
As for the Pac-10 and Scott, who was trying pull off a bold move that would have dramatically changed the landscape of college sports, they are left looking for at least one more member to get to 12 by 2012 when Colorado is set to join.
Scott's next target? Utah from the Mountain West Conference would seem a likely candidate.
Scott's plan was to add Texas (with Notre Dame the big prize in the conference expansion game) along with its main Big 12 South rivals -- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Because Texas is the richest and most powerful of the Big 12 schools, the Longhorns were seen as the lynchpin to the deal. Wherever Texas decided to place its cash cow football program, the rest of the schools would seemingly fall in line.
But Texas A&M had represented a wild card, with school officials meeting with Pac-10 and SEC officials in recent days. If the Aggies were serious about leaving for the Southeastern Conference, no matter what Texas did, it was unclear whether that would have prompted the Longhorns, Sooners and the rest to decide the Big 12 was not worth saving with only nine members.
But that SEC flirtation turned out to be nothing more.
"Texas A&M is a proud member of the Big 12 Conference and will continue to be affiliated with the conference in the future," Loftin said in a statement.
In the letter posted on Texas A&M's web site, he addressed why the remaining 10 Big 12 schools chose to stay put.
"At the end of the day, 10 of the 12 schools in the Big 12 -- including Texas A&M -- have determined that the conference was definitely worth saving due to our collective strengths in academics, national competitiveness, geographic fit and overall financial value," Loftin wrote.
Officials at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma issued similar statements, with OSU president Burns Hargis singling out Beebe for his "bold moves and intense efforts."
The news that the Big 12 survived spread quickly.
"That's great news," said Scott Drew, whose Baylor men's basketball team advanced to the South regional final in the NCAA tournament a few months ago. "Obviously, we're very excited and pleased about the 10 schools staying together. It will be great to continue the rivalries and traditions."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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