Blog Entry

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:57 pm
Don't look at this Texas A&M thing as conference realignment. Look at it through the stakeholders' eyes.

The stakeholders being ESPN, Oklahoma, A&M and Texas. It's likely that ESPN CEO John Skipper is evaluating at this moment how to maximize his profits through Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Texas if there is another round of conference shuffling.

Where those schools end up is less important than how the three current Big 12 schools can be profitable for ESPN (and Fox).

Whether or not A&M ends up in the SEC, watch for the Pac-12 to sooner or later take another run at Texas. The Big 12's instability dictates it. Commissioner Larry Scott told the Austin American-Statesman last month after the formation of the Pac-12 network one could "imply" that the Longhorn Network would be a "huge impediment" to Texas joining his league.

How quickly things change -- or possibly change. In a strange way, the Pac-12 could now make it more likely that Texas make the jump if it deems the Big 12 not worth the effort.

"At this point I don't think Larry does anything," one source close to the situation said, "He's got to let it come to him. He's the one who is sitting there with all the firepower. There is no one in a better position to monetize expansion than Larry Scott is. Not the SEC, not the Big East, not the ACC, not the Big 12. He's sitting in the catbird seat."

Why? Because he can. Remember, Scott was the guy who had invited six Big 12 teams, including Texas, last year. Consider it a still-open invitation. One that Texas would have to seriously consider.

One source painted it this way: The new Pac-12 Network is made up of six regional networks. Why couldn't the Longhorn Network be folded into the Pac-12 as a seventh regional network?

The source emphasized that ESPN is desperate to make TLN profitable. It has sunk hundreds of millions into the venture and there is no certainty whether it will work. To date, only the Big Ten Network has been profitable among collegiate networks.

It didn't help Thursday that the NCAA ruled against the televising of high school games on school/conference networks.

There are a few hurdles. Texas supposedly would have to surrender its third-party rights (re: archival, historic properties). But if Texas shows interest, that's nothing more that details. The new Pac-12 shares revenue more or less equally. Again, that can be worked out because it's, well, Texas.

Pac-12 schools would have consider working around those barriers to get the No. 1 revenue-producing athletic department into its conference.

That takes care of Texas. Oklahoma? If A&M bolts, it is seemingly a swing team between the Pac-12 and SEC.

Here's why ESPN would like A&M in the SEC: The Aggies would make ESPN's (and CBS') 15-year, $3 billion deal with the league more profitable. Some at A&M obviously see it as a more stable home.

If the Big 12 crumbles, the Longhorns most likely aren't going to the SEC or Big Ten. Texas has always looked down its nose at the SEC. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds is on record as saying he is against independence.

The Pac-12 makes the most sense for Texas almost because of TLN. It would increase the value of Pac-12 Network as well as increase the value of TLN.

"Something is wrong with your conference," a source said. "when Washington State is getting more from its conference than the University of Texas."

The source was referring to the fact that some Pac-12 projections have the league making $30 million per school once its network gets up and running. Even when the Big 12 renegotiates its primary rights in a couple of years, it is expected to top out at $20 million per year. That was with A&M.

So where does that leave us? Scott and SEC commissioner Mike Slive declined to comment through spokesmen. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe did not return phone and text messages.

But I learned last year during the conference merry-go-round to start with the stakeholders. Last year, it was Texas and Notre Dame. Both stayed in place, minimizing conference realignment.

This year the main players are Oklahoma, Texas and A&M. The question seems to be whether the Big 12 will hold together (with nine schools, or more with new expansion) if A&M leaves. That decision is up to Texas and ESPN (and Fox).

That combination kept the Big 12 together last year. Is the negativity such that the league couldn't go on after the loss of A&M? Is an enhanced SEC and Pac-12 worth more to ESPN than a damaged or non-existent Big 12?

The answers, seemingly, are coming soon. Despite reports that A&M-to-the-SEC was a done deal, it's likely that nothing will be officially decided until the Aug. 22 A&M regents meeting.

While Nebraska was a slam dunk to go to the Big Ten last spring, it wasn't official until AD Tom Osborne and chancellor Harvey Perlman made their official presentation to the regents.

Through an A&M spokesman I was able to determine this much about the process:

--A conference call among the regents is scheduled for Aug. 22. The fiscal year budgets for the entire A&M system will be discussed.

--An agenda has not been published beyond the budget discussions. An official agenda for the meeting will be available 72 hours prior.

--The spokesman would say whether conference membership would be discussed.
Category: NCAAF

Since: Aug 12, 2011
Posted on: August 12, 2011 2:49 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

And why exactly wouldn't Texas perhaps join the Big 10??  No reason was given in your article.

Do you really think Jim Delaney and the Big 10 are just going to sit back and watch the SEC and the PAC12 make all the major moves??   Are you that naive?

Texas and the Big 10 have very serious and very advanced discussions last year - most were unaware of the extent of the negotiations as they were kept very quiet - and while money is the driving force for every school and conference, the academic benefits and prestige of the Big 10 are very appealing to Texas too.  UT's interest in the Big 10 was based on Notre Dame also joining the conference - UT wanted guarantees that they would play ND every year - and don't think for a second that Jim Delaney isn't going to swing for the fences and try to again land Notre Dame (who's independent hand will likely be forced with all of these "super" conferences emerging) and Texas - the Big 10's original plan all along - to counter the SEC's moves.  Yes, the Longhorn Network will be an issue but Delaney and UT can figure out some sort of agreement and the TV dollars from a Big 10 conference that has Texas, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska will be astronomical and it will far exceed what Texas will earn on their own.  As well, DeLoss Dodds has gone on record as stating that Texas has no interest in being an independent and, again, that might not be much of an option with these "super" conferences.

Again, Delaney and the Big 10 will not sit quietly by and they are not simply going to settle for secondary additions like Missouri (already rejected) or any Big East team that will dilute the conference.  Texas and Notre Dame will be joining the Big 10 when everything shakes out.

Since: Apr 10, 2009
Posted on: August 12, 2011 2:46 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

First off, I have changed my mind and I don't think A&M ultimately goes. I think things like breaches of contract and exit fees and other legalities ar not going to make it possible. But let's say it does. What is Larry Scott's dream scenario? One would assume Texas and OU have to make up half of it. Many argue they won't leave without tag alongs Tech and OSU. But, let me offer a counter argument to that line of thought. If you can get Texas and OU, you pretty much have the majority of viewers in the respective states. Adding Tech and OSu really doesn't add up to much more than adding Lubbock and Stillwater as far as market share. Topeka alone has a bigger market share than Lubbock. Wichita has a bigger market ahare than Lubbock and Stillwater combined by more than a 1/4 million. We haven't even gotten to KC and St. Louis yet. It would seem to me, Scott's dream scenario would be Texas-OU-KU-MU. It gives him the biggest market share. It gives him a pair of cross state rivals to build regional networks for, it balances the geography better with CU and Utah and he could probably negotiate upwards of 35 million for each school with the added potential. Plus, he gets a top 4 basketball program as a bonus. I understand state legislatures might make some noise, but can anyone really argue, from a business standpoint, a better foursome for the PAC than that?

Since: Jul 22, 2007
Posted on: August 12, 2011 2:40 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

The Big 12 is doomed, just when. The conference are all being driven by TV Markets. So if A&M or Mizzu leave, the Big 12 has no where to go and expand back to 10 let alone 12 they need for a conference championship.

Houston, TCU don't bring anything to the table. No new TV Market that Texas already has. Arkansas, you have to be kidding. No team from the SEC is going to join this mess of the big 12. Same thing with any MT West team, they don't big enough TV markets.

Since: Apr 26, 2007
Posted on: August 12, 2011 2:31 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

To date, only the Big Ten Network has been profitable among collegiate networks.
The biggest reason that BTN is profitable is because of the free labor.  Simply put, the network is run by the 12 school's "A/V" Departments.  Students who want a career in broadcasting all partake in all the aspects of the network, making a few "professors" who oversee the projects the only ones who actually have any real income.  Subtract the costs of gear and travel, BTN runs as a giant, year-round class project.  Not sure how SEC runs, but knowing ESPN and all the required glitz and glamour, there's no chance of a profit to be had.  Outside of Texas, there isn't a large enough fanbase to warrant an entire station dedicated to one school.  Either ESPN wraps up a whole conference (like the Pac-12, bringing Texas into the fold) or this channel fails in 2-3 years. 

Since: Aug 12, 2011
Posted on: August 12, 2011 1:36 pm
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Since: Oct 17, 2006
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:37 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

tkos, I agree with your assessment on Notre Dame, the time is coming where they will have to assimilate to the Big Ten. Then the Big Ten will just try and grab a quality team out of the Big East.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:30 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

If there is going to be 4 super conferences comprised of 16 teams each, 2 are gonna have to crumble.  The Big 12 is  a given.  You cannot lose NU and CU one year and then A&M the next and still be relevent.  The remaining schools that carry any importance know that and will do what they can to cover themselves by either bolting to the SEC or PAC 12.  I think the ACC is gonna lose a couple of teams to the SEC.  If that happens, you can bet they will try to combine the best 16 schools it can come up with the Big East.  The Big 10 will not just sit back and sift through the scraps when all of this is said and done.  Once it becomes apparent that this things is going to the super confernce mode, they will be active enough in the northeast by pursuing schools like Maryland, Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt or even Virginia Tech.  They would also give Missouri a look again as well as extend another offer to Notre Dame.  Notre Dame might find it too difficult to be able to stay independent in a super conference type college football world. 

Since: Mar 26, 2010
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:28 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

The Big Ten would have no interest in Iowa State or the Big East; if it goes to 16 and assumes Notre Dame is a lost cause, it will go to higher-tier candidates, just as it did with Nebraska. I'm specifically envisioning the core of the ACC -- Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke -- with the SEC simultaneously taking Virginia Tech and N.C. State on the east to go with A&M and Missouri to the west. Meanwhile, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Okie State enter the Pac.

As for Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor, they merge with the six ACC remnants and Big East football members into one mega-conference or two smaller leagues.

Since: Aug 18, 2008
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:14 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

Unless Texas is able to get out of the Longhorn Network, the PAC-12 will not accept them.  TLN is owned by ESPN.  The PAC-12 Networks are owned by the conference.  Add to that the PAC-12 has all the media rights for the conference, and an equity distribution of television revenues, it doesn't look good.  After the way that the PAC-12 networks were done, the PAC-12 would have to basically buy the TLN and rename it to PAC-12 Texas (covering Texas and Texas Tech).  Then set up PAC-12 Oklahoma.

Ultimately, I'd love Texas in the PAC-12 (along with Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma St.)  However, TLN will be a deal-breaker.

Since: Jul 2, 2010
Posted on: August 12, 2011 12:13 pm

Texas to the Pac-12 makes sense

If Texas to the Pac-12 and A&M to SEC-how about Oklahoma to the Big Ten.  Reuniting with Nebraska for the game to be played at 3:30pm right after the OSU - Michigan game.

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