Dan Beebe has been working fervently to save his conference, the Big 12, which has only 10 members left and was in danger of having only 5, or zero. Today Texas announced it would be staying put instead of bolting for the Pac-10. But the real credit goes to Texas A&M.
The teams that were to become Pac-10 members were like dominoes waiting to fall.
Texas Tech was ready to go if the others went.
Oklahoma State was sure to go wherever Oklahoma went.
Oklahoma had committed to going wherever Texas went.
Texas was ready to go to the Pac-10, as long as Texas A&M came along, too.
But the Aggies didn't want to go to the Pac-10. They even made overtures to the SEC, since they would need a home if the Big 12 dissolved. And that was enough to kill the whole deal.
Without A&M along, Texas wouldn't go; to kill any possible SEC deal with Texas A&M, they decided to stay in the Big 12, and A&M quickly agreed. Since Texas stayed, Oklahoma stays. Since Oklahoma stays, Oklahoma State stays. And Texas Tech, too, of course.
Of course Beebe offerred Texas a great deal—he had to. And of course he did his best to sugar-coat the league's revenue numbers as much as possible to reassure everyone involved that the Big 12 will be generating a lot of money for those staying. All of these things were what any commissioner would do.
In the end, though, it was the Aggie end-around that saved the conference. There should be a lot of (temporary) A&M fans at Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, and Baylor.
Now, the Pac-10 (with 11 members, to the Big 12's 10 and the Big Ten's 12), is almost certainly going to add another team, probably Utah, whom they were supposed to be going after in the first place before they got Colorado.
With Utah, they'll have 12 teams and have a conference championship game, which is probably the exact amount of financial transfer that will go from the Big 12 to the Pac-10. Per school, the difference will probably be a wash.
The Mountain West would end up roughly the same, gaining Boise State while losing Utah. The only league that definitely comes out ahead financially is the Big Ten, who will have a championship game, which are evidently the most coveted thing in college football today, at least as far as the league commissioners are concerned. Will the Big Ten court more members? I doubt it. It feels like it's time to stop.
The era of mega-conferences may have to wait. And Notre Dame—perhaps having dodged the conference bullet once again—remains safely independent until the next round of insanity strikes.