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Tag:conference realignment
Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 5:13 pm
 

Texas gets credit and a league to play in

For a brief, fleeting moment we saw a glimpse of Texas' vulnerability Thursday.

If you blinked you missed it. A gust of wind caught UT's skirt and revealed some of its unmentionables

There was a time not long ago when TCU to the Big 12 would have been a dealbreaker for the haughty 'Horns. Why give little brother a chance to recruit against and -- gasp! -- possibly beat mighty UT?

And the thought of giving up on those Longhorn Network high school games? Never!

Turns out those issues were just bargaining chips. Backed into a corner, all-powerful Texas backed down. But it got want it wanted Thursday -- the Big 12 whole and the perception that Texas once again saved it.

You didn't even have to look closely during the rat-a-tat-tat of press releases. First, TCU was invited to the Big 12. The Frogs now have a chance to turn loose those Lone Star State recruits that got them to the Rose Bowl on Texas.

Then there were glowing recommendations from the power elite: Suddenly, Texas and Oklahoma cared about TCU's academic and athletic diligence in getting to this point. It was their joint resolution. Those two schools' names will appear in every story and on every TV report in the country. Shrewd. Smart. Even industrious TCU hasn't figured out how to do that. Yet.

The league also agreed to the much-discussed all-in media rights for six years. Texas said it didn't need to show those high school highlights on LHN. Remember, that damn high school television presence that caused Texas A&M to bolt? Suddenly, not a big deal.

A day of "salvation," and none of it would have happened without Texas. That's the image we're left with. Actually, none of it would have happened without some sizable pushback from interim commissioner Chuck Neinas and Oklahoma president David Boren.

Someone stood up to Texas, finally. The school's administration figured out to get rich, you have to exist in a conference. The Big 12 might not perfect, but it's a league and it's a hell of a lot better for Bevo than independence.

Going indy means a BCS bid becomes a lot tougher to achieve. It means scheduling problems.

How many noticed that the Big 12 got worse, in stages, over the past 16 months? Did we forget where Texas A&M, Nebraska and Colorado play now? Did you forget Missouri is on the brink? This time the league essentially traded Texas' sprawling land-grant giant (A&M) for a private school with an enrollment of 9,000.

As for Missouri, Thursday's actions told me that the Big 12 is ready to move on. If Missouri is going to stay, it's going to have to agree to all the new rules. Leverage shifts quickly, and suddenly, Missouri has less of it. The SEC thing is beginning to shaky with a report that there isn't exactly unanimous approval for the Tigers among SEC presidents.

Some dumb Missouri source also said that the school's first choice is the Big Ten. That can't sit well with SEC CEOs.

But it's a happy day in the Big 12, because the Big 12 continues to exist. Thanks, Texas. Wonder if Nebraska, Colorado and A&M would have voted for this?

Of course they would. This didn't have to happen. But these are desperate times that could be upon us against soon. Those grants of rights last only six years. That's plenty of time for the landscape to shift, for Texas to have second thoughts about sharing LHN with ... the Pac-12.

Meanwhile in Fort Worth, the week started with an ugly snit with SMU. It ended, for TCU, in football heaven.

One man's, well, strumpet is another man's industrious worker bee. TCU becomes the first school to leave a conference before playing a game in it. Thanks, Big East, we hardly knew you. No, really. The departure of the Frogs puts the Big East on life support.

Do you care? Texas doesn't. Neinas doesn't. TCU sure as hell doesn't. But the Frogs deserve the Big 12 if for no other reason than they didn't quit trying to get there. Left out of the original Big Eight/Southwest Conference expansion, the school then charted a course to make itself as marketable as possible.

"I think the best thing is, we won our way back," said author Dan Jenkins, a TCU alum and college football historian. "We made them take us. It's a good deal all around, including the time zone. Now people will know whether we won or lost on Saturday nights." 

Little did Jenkins or anyone know it would take 16 years and five conferences for TCU to get back to this point. The conclusion: The school didn't give up. The reality in this contentious climate: TCU is a warm body at the right time. And the Big 12 might actually be 12 soon again.

Boren: "There could be other additions in the future."

Posted on: August 29, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 9:05 pm
 

As long Big 12 has OU & UT, it has options

Let's look at this current conference alignment thing a different way. No commissioner wants to be seen as the one to cause Alignment Armageddon. But if it has to be the Big 12, who could blame Dan Beebe? His embattled league has suffered enough. Suddenly it has options, good ones, with or without Texas A&M.

We all pretty much agree that we're headed sooner or later toward the age of the super conference with four 16-team (or whatever number) conferences. The question is how or when. Right now, we stand on the precipice with Texas A&M wanting to go to the SEC, but the SEC still thinking about whether to take the Aggies.

That's because the SEC doesn't have to expand. It's fine how it is with 18 years to run on a $3 billion contract with CBS and ESPN. If A&M goes then sooner or later, the SEC is going to have to get a 14th member. Commissioner Mike Slive seemingly loves A&M but he -- and his presidents -- don't necessarily want to be that guy, responsible for breaking up another league.

The question is whether Beebe has such reservations. And as long as he has Oklahoma and Texas, he has leverage.

As mentioned, it's looking suddenly like the Big 12 is dealing from a position of strength. It could lose Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC and still be able to lure two teams (or more) to stay viable. Why? As long as the Texas/Oklahoma axis remains solid, so is the league. Fox invested $1.17 billion over 13 years just for the secondary rights. The Big 12 is going to hit another big financial home run in a couple of years when it goes out to bid. (The assumption is that ESPN will re-up for the primary rights.)

To this point, Oklahoma has shown a willingness to stay with Texas. While the schools are rivals on the field, ADs Joe Castiglione and DeLoss Dodds are close. They know that the fortunes of the two superpowers are mutually beneficial.

If Texas and Oklahoma stay bonded, the Big 12 is in somewhat of a position of power. It could raid the Big East and go to 12 or 16. Why not go get Pittsburgh and Louisville? Sure, Big East basketball great but think of a hoops league with Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Pittsburgh and Louisville.

BIG POINT NO. 1: Even though the Big East is due for a windfall rights fee of its own in a few years I'm told that the pending primary rights deal for the Big 12 would be bigger than the Big East's entire deal. 

Would that possibility pry Notre Dame loose? Not likely. ND AD Jack Swarbrick reiterated for the millionth time on Monday that his school is happy with independence. ND probably would need eight home games to make the deal work in the Big 12 because of its deal with NBC, at least one of those being a neutral site game. The school makes a reported $15 million a year from that deal. The Big 12 wouldn't say no then ND also reaping $20 million from the Big 12 deal. Heck, it's Notre Dame.

Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said publicly last year that the Big 12 would be an attractive place for Notre Dame's minor sports. The schools do start a four-game football series in 2015.

While we're at it, let's also forget the talk of Arkansas, SMU and Houston to the Big 12. Arkansas would be taking a pay cut. The Big 12 is already in the Dallas, Houston and state of Texas markets. SMU is making its case in part because it has been to back-to-back bowls. Is that all it takes these days?

In this age don't think of conference affiliations, think of which schools assembled together make for the most lucrative media rights deals. Remember, geography matters little. When TCU enters the Big East in 2012 that will be its fifth conference since 1995.

That's why the pool of candidates for the SEC's No. 14 has to include Missouri, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia Tech. That's not the list, it's a best-guess list if you believe that the SEC isn't going to expand inside its footprint. That means no Georgia Tech, no Louisville, no Clemson, no Florida State.

Whether the Big 12 loses Missouri or not, BYU has emerged as an attractive replacement for Texas A&M. That's not news. BYU has a loyal and large following. The question is whether BYU would give up its long-range plan for independence after only one year. One source last week went as far as to say BYU would be "excited" about the prospect of joining the Big 12.

AD Tom Holmoe told Brett McMurphy this month that his school was happy at the moment

While the Cougars have ESPN as a scheduling partner, it has to become apparent to the school sooner or later that it is all but out of BCS contention in most seasons. By going independent, it has the essentially the same BCS status as Army and Navy. That is to say, the only automatic berth would be if BYU finishes No. 1 or No. 2.

The six BCS conference champions are guaranteed a bid. A champion from one of the five non-BCS leagues get a bid if it finishes in the top 12 or top 16 if it is ranked higher in the final BCS standings than a BCS conference champion. Notre Dame (because it's Notre Dame) gets an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight of the BCS.

Army, Navy and BYU? Guaranteed only in the top two. BIG POINT NO. 2: Essentially that means BYU could finish 10-2 (or even 11-1) and have nothing guaranteed in the BCS.

Earlier this year, I wrote that BYU's independence was more about faith that most people thought. I'm starting to think all it would take is one year of being left out of the BCS (and a call from the Big 12) for the school's fans and officials to change their minds about independence.

Meanwhile, the "composition language" in the SEC contract is probably similar to that of the Big 12's. That means ESPN would most likely try to renegotiate downward its current deal with the Big 12. Say that is 10 percent of the contract given that A&M represents 10 percent of the Big 12. At that point it becomes like rearranging deck chairs. ESPN could tell the SEC, the money it is taking away from the Big 12 goes to the SEC. In essence, A&M's money would follow it to the SEC.

It isn't that easy. The SEC would most likely negotiate for more saying it is gaining huge viewership in the state of Texas. BIG POINT NO. 3: What's forgotten is the SEC isn't starting from a zero position. In case you haven't noticed, ESPN is already in Texas. SMU AD Steve Orsini told me last week that the ratings for Big 12 and SEC games in Dallas are "even." Whether that's true or not, there is already a big following for the SEC in the Lone Star State because there is a big following for the SEC everywhere. That's why the league already gets the big bucks.

A further hang-up on this A&M thing: It's better for everyone if the SEC expands by two all at once. That's one negotiation, rather than two. But if Texas A&M is one, what's the other?

It might not matter to the Big 12.
 
 
 
 
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