Big 12 realignment: What kept the conference together?
I’ve just filed a column — should be on the Internet anytime — saying I think Texas politics took down UT’s hopes to go to the Pac-10 and take as many Big 12 South members with them. Nothing else makes sense to me. We always say this is about money; what if the money we’re talking about isn’t football TV contracts, but state appropriations, which dwarf anything from ESPN or FOX.
But what’s great are all the theories out there about what happened.
* Pete Thamel of the New York Times said the deal broke down over 11th-hour Pac-10 negotiations, that Texas wanted all kinds of assurances about getting to start its own network and not sharing revenues equitably. That doesn’t sound right. Why would talks get this far — to the point commissioner Larry Scott flew to Oklahoma and Texas over the weekend to issue invites — if there wasn’t a fundamental agreement on the major issues?
However, the New York Times story does rebut the idea that the key was the Big 12 somehow came up with all kinds of new money in its television contracts. I don’t see that.
* ESPN’s Andy Katz is writing that a collection of college athletic advocates — some in the business, some in private business — collaborated to squash the Pac-10 expansion, because it wasn’t good for college sports. Athletic directors, donors, etc. That’s interesting, but I don’t understand the process. If the Pac-10 and the Big 12 South schools wanted to go, what was anyone going to do to stop them? Anyone other than the Texas legislature?
* The company line of expanded television revenues. Again, I don’t buy it. Texas knew what the money could be, long before the last couple of days.
I wonder if anyone knows? I wonder if this thing grew so many directions that it sort of got away from everyone. I wonder if DeLoss Dodds and Texas president Bill Powers, and A&M athletic director Bill Byrne and the Aggie hierarchy, and David Boren and Joe Castiglione, and Boone Pickens and Burns Hargis and everyone else involved, I wonder if they all had interaction with a variety of sources. Who knows? Maybe this thing was torpedoed by multiple combatants.
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