Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe took some time out last week to indulge the media blitz surrounding the one-year anniversary of his conference's near death and answer questions about its recent cash-fueled revival from a number of media entities.
One of those interviews was with ESPN Radio in Austin, Texas. He offered some candid thoughts on Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne when asked about the three programs (Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri) that looked like they had wandering eyes last summer.
"On the Nebraska point, they never really liked, or at least Tom Osborne never really liked the Big 12, I don't think." he said.
After doing that interview, I asked him to expound on the comments, which were more frank than anything I'd heard him say about Nebraska since I took over this blog back in 1981.
"That probably was a little stronger than I should have said it," Beebe said. "I think Tom has a high, high level of respect for the Big 12 and its institutions."
Even still, Beebe said Osborne wasn't a fan of several Big 12 decisions from the moment he took over as athletic director in 2007.
"From the day that I sat down with him when he became the athletic director, he expressed strong concern about a lot of the things that happened when the Big 12 was formed, even though it was 13 or 14 or 15 years previous," Beebe said.
Among those concerns, the gravitational pull of the state of Texas for the Big 12, which moved its offices to Dallas when it merged with four members of the Southwest Conference. He also cited the prohibition of players categorized as partial qualifiers being admitted to Big 12 programs, which Osborne commonly signed to his program, as did others.
Just before Nebraska and Colorado announced their exits, the Big 12 Championship announced plans to remain in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas for three additional years.
During the realignment fracas of last summer, Osborne repeatedly stated that league offices and championship game locations weren't enough to warrant a change of conference, but instead, the uncertainty surrounding the Big 12 and stability in the Big Ten, along with a bigger paycheck, pushed the Huskers to make the decision.
However, one of the big differences from the Big Ten and Big 12 is the way it shares conference revenue. In the Big 12, teams that are on television more earn more than those that aren't. In the Big Ten, revenue is shared equally.
"What’s interesting though, and maybe even a little bit curious to me is that Texas and Nebraska were aligned almost exactly on every issue, including the revenue distribution piece and putting all the rights into the conference. So it’s kind of interesting when I read about comments about Nebraska now being pleased about being in a conference where they put all their rights in and divide money equally," Beebe said.
"That’s the exact opposite position that they took for years in this conference."