The Big 12 is the Weezer of conferences, peaking in their powers somewhere early in the first 15% of its career, delivering a long series of acceptable but not top shelf quality products since that early high water mark, and increasingly just relying on the talents and revenue generated by one member.
This makes Texas Rivers Cuomo, and we should all be deeply uncomfortable with this because it means Hook 'Em was off getting handjobs from hookers in a dark funk sometime in 1999, and even lovable plushies affiliated with college sports are still plushies. Their sex lives are a place no one should venture, and that includes you, David Attenborough. (Always snooping around with that HD camera to watch some marmots engage in tundra frottage.) On the other hand, this makes Matt Sharp the Mike Leach of the Big 12, and that would be more than appropriate.
If the 2005 Vince Young Team was their Blue Album, then the year 2011 is the year Texas as Weezer accepts a bid to do nightly shows at The Hard Rock Cafe Casino And Hotel as a Vegas act. Their agreement with ESPN all but ensures the casino lounge act equivalent for a college football team: the rights to Texas high school games, a guaranteed share of profits until ESPN's investment is repaid and then scads more after that, and a big shiny billboard on the Strip and luxury suites for recruits as far as the eye can see. That last bit is metaphorical. We think it is, at least.
The full contract is here, and is the zillionth piece of evidence to show that the Big 12 as a conference is doomed. The Network goes on whether or not Texas has a conference, and until the year 2031, that is all Texas really needs. As for the other members of the conference save for Oklahoma and Texas A&M, they're stuck in the classic sideman's bind: stay with the comfy, uninspiring gig where you play background noise for the frontman, or strike out and suffer the penury of true artistry.
A&M and Oklahoma could probably find solid gigs in other bands. As for Baylor and Kansas, they'll have to make do with the steady work, and soothe their minor humiliations at the buffet. (It's always free, and crab legs, guys! Real crab legs!) in the meantime, Rivers will be in his penthouse suite/residence, snorting Adderall off the breasts of a very literate but misplaced literature student working her way through UNLV as a private gymnast.