When ESPN announced in January it would pay Texas $300 million over 20 years for the Longhorns’ own network, rumors again flared that Texas A&M and Oklahoma would be off to the Southeastern Conference.
Such a scenario could have allowed the Mountain West Conference to add some remaining Big 12 Conference schools and take a major step toward automatic Bowl Championship Series status.
It was a nice thought while it lasted.
The Big 12 signed a 13-year contract Wednesday with Fox Sports, reportedly receiving $90 million per year to further stabilize the conference.
So the Mountain West, barring something unforeseen, is stuck with what will be a nine-member conference — 10 in football — beginning in 2012.
The conference, at least, can take delight that Brigham Young’s decision to go independent in football probably won’t end with a Big 12 invitation. Many Cougars supporters have acted as if that invite was simply a matter of time.
Commissioner Dan Beebe said the Big 12 will remain at 10 members rather than replace outgoing Colorado and Nebraska and play a league championship football game.
■ JIMMER BANISHED — BYU sidelined another basketball star, asking national player of the year Jimmer Fredette to stay away from school because he’s too much of a classroom distraction.
“He can’t go anywhere in Provo (Utah) without being recognized,” his father, Al, told The (Glens Falls, N.Y.) Post-Star.
The Jimmer, who is taking classes online, led BYU to the round of 16 this season even though the Cougars suspended forward Brandon Davies for violating the school’s honor code.
Deadspin.com takes BYU to task, writing it has a history of unfairly disciplining minorities compared to whites. Davies is African-American.
Since 1993, almost 80 percent of penalties for honor-code violations involving athletes were handed out to minorities, according to Deadspin, at a school where only 23 percent of the student body is not white.
The Jimmer has been a boon to BYU, which can use him to enhance recruiting almost across the board. But no doubt opponents will use the Deadspin story to scare off many already-leery minorities.
■ HARPER ON THE AIR – Bryce Harper might not be in Single-A Hagerstown, Md., for even a cup of coffee, but the Las Vegan’s home games are broadcast at www. wjejradio.com.
Last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick by the Washington Nationals is batting .240 with one home run and five RBIs in seven games with Hagerstown.
■ LIMPING LAKERS – As if Los Angeles Lakers fans weren’t stressed enough about the team’s recent play entering the playoffs, they now have to worry about chickenpox.
Reserve guard Steve Blake came down with the illness, and there is concern it could spread.
The Lakers already are dealing with knee injuries to Andrew Bynum and Matt Barnes and called up D-Leaguers Trey Johnson and Derrick Caracter. The team truly is in trouble if either plays meaningful minutes in the playoffs.
COMPILED BY MARK ANDERSON LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL