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UT coach Mack Brown not worried about lack of Big 12 title game

12:46 AM CDT on Wednesday, June 16, 2010

By CHUCK CARLTON and RAINER SABIN / The Dallas Morning News
ccarlton@dallasnews.com rsabin@dallasnews.com

AUSTIN – The hidden fan inside Texas football coach Mack Brown will miss Nebraska when the Cornhuskers exit the Big 12 following this season.

The conference title game is another story. Brown came armed to Tuesday's news conference with a handy stat: Four times in the last 14 years a Big 12 team has seen its national title hopes dashed with a loss in the league championship game.

Nor is he worried about the conference disappearing from the radar screen in late November, like the Big Ten sometimes did without a championship game.

"I think the Big 12 has a lot of models of where it has worked and where it has not worked," Brown said.

Ironically, one of the places it's worked has been the Pac-10, a conference Texas almost joined. One strong possibility would be extending the regular-season schedule one week to give the league a presence against other conference's title games.

While Texas-Oklahoma is under contract to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl through 2015, imagine games like Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, Kansas-Missouri or Texas-Texas Tech on that final Saturday.

Brown said he learned of Texas' decision to stay in the Big 12 at about 5 p.m. Monday. He said players and parents had expressed relief because they will still be able to drive to most games.

The Longhorns have faced criticism for pursuing their self-interests. Brown had no problem with the approach.

"Really and truly, every family I know tries to take the care of their family first and then try to help their friends," Brown said. "I think that's what Texas tried to do. I applaud them."

Change is coming: Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said Tuesday he has an idea of what the latest incarnation of the conference will look like with a new nine-game, round-robin regular-season schedule that is likely to be introduced.

"We're going to have to explore that fully," Beebe said. "I think that is the direction I would guess we're going to head. But we are going to bring together the remaining institutions and athletics administrators very soon and discuss how we're going to want to structure it going forward."

The new format, if it were to be enacted, would offer potential benefits and obvious disadvantages, Beebe said. The league would no longer have a made-for-television marquee event, featuring the winners of the league's two divisions competing for the league title and a BCS bowl berth.

"But on the other side ... conferences that have championship games put the possibility of going to the national championship game at risk," he said. "For a long time our coaches have not been interested in a championship game."

And Beebe said the Big 12 will not attempt to replace Nebraska and Colorado.

"There is not going to be any exploration in the future for expansion," Beebe said. "Certainly, no expansion in the region we already occupy. I think the feeling is that the institutions are the ones that should be together and there is not a need to go any further.

"We're in a good place to go forward. I think there is a lot of satisfaction in the remaining membership."

ccarlton@dallasnews.com

rsabin@dallasnews.com

• • •

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