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The twisting, turning conference realignment story did not bring out the best in Kansas City broadcast journalism.
In May, 810-WHB host Kevin Kietzman "broke" a story about Missouri receiving an offer to join the Big Ten. No offer arrived, forcing Mizzou officials to work with other universities to save the Big 12 Minus Two.
Last Thursday, KCTV 5 reported that Texas and Texas A&M were "looking to move to the Big Ten Conference," a "scoop" that does not align with either the outcome or contemporaneous reporting.
Blaise Labbe, the news director at KCTV 5, helped source the June 10 story, which KCTV touted as an exclusive. "I spoke to people myself," Labbe tells The Pitch.
Labbe has deep roots in Big 12 country. He worked in Oklahoma and in Texas before he joined KCTV/KSMO earlier this year.
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Labbe stands by the story, which suggested that a deal to bring Texas and Texas A&M into the Big Ten "could be made as soon as Thursday." The story also said that Oklahoma was planning to petition the Southeastern Conference.
Says Labbe: "I was on the phone. Were talks talking place? Yes, they were taking place."
Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma ultimately decided that their interests were served by remaining in the Big 12.
To be sure, college athletics just experienced a period of heavy turbulence. Scenarios shifted as university officials and conference administrators worked to determine the most advantageous alliances.
Even so, the KCTV report hit a strange note. The possibility that Texas and Texas A&M were leaning toward to the Big Ten was not being reported at the time. By most accounts
, Texas was considering a move to the Pac-10, while Texas A&M was inching a cleat in the direction of the SEC.
Asked about the apparent lack of corroboration of KCTV's exclusive, Labbe mentions The Columbus Dispatch
. The newspaper obtained an e-mail exchange in which Ohio State University's president and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney
discussed the possibility of the Big Ten adding Texas as a member.
The Dispatch story
hardly backs up KCTV's reporting, however. The e-mail exchange took place in April, which was another lifetime in the conference realignment saga.
Like Kietzman, KCTV appears to have either received faulty information or misinterpreted the correct version of events.
It's possible, of course, that officials at Texas and Texas A&M reached out to the Big Ten (or vice versa) at the 11th hour. The problem is that KCTV made an agreement sound likely -- even imminent. Obviously, it wasn't.