Maybe you noticed. Louisville has made the College World Series. The news just keeps getting worse.
The Big 12 could have had Louisville, any time between autumn 2011 (when West Virginia was admitted to the Big 12) and last November, when the ACC invited Louisville. No one blames the Big 12 for taking West Virginia over Louisville; either would have been fine, but the TV networks wanted the Mountaineers. Which was fine. The Big 12 could have taken Louisville in addition to West Virginia and forged ahead with 11 schools.
And the Big 12 would have gotten one of the nation’s best athletic programs. This academic year, Louisville has beaten Florida in the Sugar Bowl, won the NCAA men’s basketball title, reached the NCAA women’s basketball championship game and now its baseball team is on its way to Omaha.
Plus, there’s this nugget, courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls, who reported that Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds said he tried to sell his Big 12 colleagues on Louisville, but to no avail.
What? Texas wanted Louisville? We already know that OU — both president David Boren and athletic director Joe Castiglione — were pro-Louisville. If the Big 12 kingpins, Texas and OU, both wanted the Cardinals, why didn’t Louisville get an invite? Has the Big 12 gone all egalitarian? Does Texas not hold the sway we all thought? Does Texas and OU combined not swing a big enough stick to get Louisville?
And if all this is true, why in the heck did a majority of the Big 12 block Lousville? Can it be all financial? I guess so. The Big 12 paid out that record $22 million per school this year, a handsome sum for a conference on its deathbed three summers ago.
Some Big 12 schools focus solely on the bottom line. The idea that Louisville might cut into the short-term pie does not set well with some schools. Remember what I told you a couple of years ago. One Big 12 athletic director expressed a lack of enthusiasm even for the pipedream of Arkansas jumping from the SEC. Said it probably wouldn’t pay off financially.
That’s the problem. The Big 12 has found a bonanza with 10 schools. The Texas/Oklahoma franchise, coupled with some interesting brands like West Virginia, OSU and Kansas State, means the Big 12 gets top dollar from the networks and has to share it only among 10 schools. Long-term, it doesn’t seem the most viable plan, but short-term, it’s the mother lode.
Which leads to Louisville going to the ACC and taking all of its great teams to another league.