Emails in on Big 12 realignment
The new emails are in, and lots of talk about conference realignment, college hoops and the draft.
Bill wrote about the future of the Big 12: “I’m a Cowboy and here are my admittedly ignorant opinions on conference re-alignment possibilities. If the Pac-10 takes Utah, they will take BYU as well. BYU is a much larger school than Utah and they command attention in Utah like OU does in Oklahoma. Can you imagine the OU alumni and fans if OSU wanted to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten and leave OU behind? This would be similar. BYU is the OU of Utah. The Utah legislature won’t allow Utah to leave without having BYU attached to the deal. Besides, would you really prefer Colorado to BYU? The same thing applies to Texas and its schools. The four Texas institutions in the Big 12 taken as a whole benefit from being together in one conference. Even if UT, with or without A&M, were to gain from joining the Big Ten or Pac-10, the others would suffer greatly. As a legislator in Texas, if the aggregate benefit of the four together is more than the aggregate benefit of UT leaving for another conference, you would force them to stay together.”
No way will the Pac-10 take BYU, under any circumstances. The Pac-10 is run by a bunch of elitists. And those elitists want no part of a fundamentalist university like BYU. You might be right that Utah politicians wouldn’t let Utah leave without BYU having a place to go, but that place to go could be the Big 12, which wouldn’t mind BYU’s politics. As far as Texas, that’s an interesting point. There was a time when Baylor and Tech had to be considered by UT. No way could Texas leave without A&M, but I’m not sure if Texas AND the Aggies now could leave without Baylor and Tech. The political leadership has changed from the ’90s. Enough to screw Baylor and Tech? I don’t know.
Clay: “I agree the Big 12 would lose Texas in a heart beat if they change the revenue stream. Previously it was said that our TV contracts haven’t been real good, but it should change when they are renewed in a couple of years. It would seem your argument for better scheduling in football nonconference games would allow for a bigger payday for the conference. Last year there were weekends with no attractive games for the networks.”
You’re exactly right. And by the way, Texas might be turning around a little, playing a little better schedule. The Longhorns have UCLA this season, UCLA and BYU in 2011, and Ole Miss in 2012.
Kevin, a Nebraska fan: “Just something I wanted to ask you about Texas being the engine that runs the B12. I wanted to point out one thing that I completely disagree with you on. Our TV market. In the 2009 Gator Bowl, NU/Clemson produced a 4.1 rating, or a 58% increase from the previous year’s game. And in the 2009 Holiday Bowl, the game had a 3.7 rating with 4.2 million viewers and I could argue a majority was Nebraska, since Arizona doesn’t have much of a following for football, as compared to 2007 when UT played ASU and drew 4.2 million viewers as well. It should also be noted, since maybe you don’t know, that NU is the No. 4 most profitable football team in college football (according to Forbes) behind UT, Notre Dame and Penn State with a $49 million dollar profit in 2009. So while I am not in any way saying UT is not a big driving force, NU is right there with them. I mean, a large amount of our fan-base DOESN’T stay in the state of Nebraska. We’ve become spread out across the entire U.S. Anything to assist in the debate AGAINST the TV ratings thing. I really just can’t see our ratings being THAT bad when we have such a large fan base.”
Then you need to get your eyes checked. Fan base and television market are not anything close to the same. Need a bowl team? Need a sold-out stadium? Nebraska’s your man. Need a TV market that will boost your network contracts by tens of millions of dollars? You won’t find it in middle America, other than Texas. This is the way the world works. TV sets are like the Chinese army; they overwhelm you with numbers. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois. Those are huge states, and the Big East is looking to add even more, like New Jersey or New York. Not Nebraska. Nebraska offers the TV markets of Omaha and Lincoln. Texas offers the TV markets of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso, Austin. And draws the same kind of national crowd that Nebraska would draw. The Big 12′s network contracts would be cut severely without Texas. They would not be significantly impacted without Nebraska.
Larry, a Texas Tech fan: “Feudalism worked well for a long time, for the guys in the big houses. I have always considered the Big 12 to be an oligarchy run by and for the benefit of three schools. Any pecuniary benefits accruing to the other nine of us are just whore’s pay. If ever the Mountain West were to be admitted to the BCS party, I’d vote for my school joining without a backward glance (assuming the Texas Legislature, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the UT Law School Alumni Association, would allow it). Does DeLoss Dodds realize that he is not going to be able to bring the Austin Mafia with him if they go to the Big 10?”
Yes, I think Dodds realizes it.
Toby: “I enjoyed your articles on the Big 12. I am native Okie living in SEC country. Regarding your list of possible schools to join the conference, I think BYU may have a broader appeal than just TV sets in Utah, because of the presence of Mormons throughout the western U.S. and California. Also, I recently read an article in the Salt Lake Tribune that said there is a strong sense in Provo that the liberal Pac-10 schools would oppose BYU because of the ultra-conservative politics of the LDS. I have always thought Arkansas was a better fit for the Big 12 than the SEC (and their recruiting has never been the same since they no longer play games in Texas like they used to), but I know it is highly unlikely they would leave the SEC. So, if CU makes the unwise move of bolting for the Pac-10, my vote is to add BYU.”
I agree completely. Heck, I’d probably vote BYU over Iowa State right now.
Bruce: “With the news of UT seeking greener pastures, I see a decent chance OU gets screwed, especially considering that OSU is likely going to be a millstone hanging from OU’s neck. The Big 12 in its current form is only going to last at most 10 years but more likely no more than five. There are already too many schools in it resentful of the power that UT wields and the big ado that has arisen in the past two weeks only enhances it. Even though fans of every other school hate it, if they are honest with themselves they know that losing UT destroys the conference in terms of national image. The two killers for OU are if UT goes to the Big Ten and that is the sole addition. I have doubts that UT would be able to leave A&M in that kind of bind, since the Texas legislator is controlled by former Aggies. The worst scenario is UT and A&M leave for the Pac-10 and the Big Ten snares NU or MU. Under the first scenario you can go on with Utah, TCU or New Mexico and move on after taking a pretty damaging hit and an especially bad one for OU because UT would be more likely to drop OU than A&M as a nonconference game. Under the second scenario, there is nothing outside of the 20 million or so people in its footprint that anyone cares about watching on TV. OU would still have a national name but they aren’t playing anyone in conference games that the nation is going to really care about seeing. They basically become the Big East 1500 miles west. No way OU stays nationally relevant for very long in football and it happens even faster if UT decides to end the OU series. The best that OU can hope for with that is that the SEC sees value in adding them and three other schools (Mizzou, Miami, FSU, Georgia Tech, OSU or Clemson) to make a 16-team conference, however unlikely that may be. Short of that pipe dream, the best for the remaining Big 12 is for it to become a nine-team Big East Western division and plays the Big East Eastern division in a title game but not in any interdivisional games. I won’t even attempt to think about how that basketball tourney would work. For OU, the best scenario outside of complete madness if UT leaves is that the Big Ten or Pac-10 decides to go beyond 12 schools. If we start under that pretense that save Utah or BYU no non-BCS team is going to get a call. Why would the Pac-10 whore itself out to Boise with their 35k stadium and 10 years of I-A tradition just to add a title game and divide the pie by another slice, especially considering how bad they are in every other sport? Then the list of viable candidates for Big Ten and Pac-10 expansion come from either the Big 12 or Big East. I doubt any team from the Big East is a primary target of the Big Ten. Pitt is not a bad fallback option but doesn’t add to the footprint of the conference and though it is a national name adding it to the conference doesn’t make the cable company in say, Tucson, we have to add the Big Ten Network to our basic lineup without other schools being added as well. So most of the new blood for each of these conferences would come from the Big 12. If the Pac-10 goes beyond 12 schools, it’s likely to go to 16 schools, assuming it keeps up with the tradition of traveling partners, which wouldn’t be a terrible idea since basketball can now easily have weeknight doubleheaders with teams in the central time zone.”
Thanks, Bruce. And go stretch your legs. I actually cut this email more than half. It was 1,450 words originally. Amazing how people can get so worked up. I think, Bruce, that you are too pessimistic. I think Texas is with the Big 12 for a long while. I think the other league members know Texas steers the boat. And if the Big Ten can’t get Notre Dame, it very well could come after Texas. But it might not, and even if it does and UT rejects the Big Ten, the Big Ten almost certainly next would look East, toward Syracuse or Boston College or Rutgers. They would bring more television sets than Nebraska, Missouri or Kansas, and that’s what it’s all about. I sort of like the Pac-10 Eastern Division concept. That would be kind of cool.
Edgar: “Texas wasn’t going anywhere. They would never have abandoned the SWC castoffs. The Big Eight bailed out the old SWC. If the league lets UT bully them out of lunch money, wusses. By far the NFL is the most successful sports enterprise in America and it practices good old-fashioned socialist revenue sharing. In MLB’s unfettered winner-take-all free market, all yawn as the Yankees win a title.
I think Texas would and could leave Tech and Baylor, if it served the ‘Horns’ purpose. And in the last nine years, nine franchises have won the World Series and 14 have made the World Series. In the last nine years, six NFL franchises have won the Super Bowl and 13 have made a Super Bowl. I don’t like baseball any more than the next guy, but at some point we’ve got to quit talking about the NFL’s parity and ignoring baseball’s.
Mel, a Mizzou grad: “Your assertions about Texas/Big 12 revenue sharing are all just fine and the old Big Eight schools know/recognize all about the Texas/OU side of things. But there are two things that are really off base in your article. Believing anything Dan Beebe says in support of anyone other than Texas is like believing Nancy Pelosi. Do you really think anybody (even the people whose puppet he is) takes him seriously?? What a joke! And if MU likes what it hears from the Big Ten, it is a strong entity to step away from Texas. If that happens, Colorado will seriously welcome Pac-10 conversations, and at that point, Nebraska will weigh its options as well. No matter how much Nebraska may benefit from its alliance with Texas and OU, it does not like playing little brother to those schools. It wants respect and I have a feeling they will consider jumping if MU does. Let’s be honest. The Big 12 has catered to certain schools at the expense of MU (can you say KU in the Orange Bowl after losing to MU?) . There are certain things that MU will always allow to the Bigger Boys, but letting KU football (and Lew Perkins) walk over an MU presence will not be tolerated without long-term consequences. There is a political presence in the state of Missouri that is highly independent, and when it comes to a league insulting this school with its strongest rival, that does not go away ever!”
Let me get this straight. Missouri is still sore at Kansas for going to the Orange Bowl, so it’s going to stand up to Texas? That’s nonsense. It’s getting old, hearing the North talk about puppet commissioners. Missouri is not in any kind of position of strength. Missouri will not “like” what it hears from the Big Ten. Missouri is on the Big Ten’s doorstep, begging, with hat in hand. And Missouri is a last-ditch option for the Big Ten. Mizzou, and to a lesser degree Nebraska, has no political pull. Missouri adds nothing to the Big Ten. Nebraska adds good football but is the worst kind of conference addition. They bring no TV sets and they will beat your butt. Meanwhile, Colorado doesn’t have the money to do anything, including leave. You’re right. Texas has been calling the shots in this league. For one reason. Because it can.
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