Tag:Texas
Posted on: July 31, 2011 6:53 pm
Edited on: August 1, 2011 7:49 am
 

Texas A&M goes to NCAA on Longhorn Network

Texas A&M is urging the NCAA to use a 17-year-old rules interpretation that it believes would keep the Longhorn Network from airing high school games.

CBSSports.com obtained documents that show A&M wants TLN classified as an "institutional publication", per bylaw 11.2.3.4, which would make it an "athletics representative of the institution." The 1994 interpretation dealt most mostly with what was, at the time, an explosion among specialty print publications. Several newsletters, magazines and weeklies sprung up in the 1990s that covered individual schools' sports. Several of those publications reported recruiting news in varying degrees as part of their coverage.

They were, in essence, what could interpreted as print versions of what the TLN is attempting to become in 2011. A&M is asking that the NCAA apply that Nov. 1994 ruling -- regarding those print publications -- to video-based publications.

If not, the school said, "the NCAA, in allowing institutions to create video-based publication agreements without any restriction on content, is opening Pandora's box."

A&M even uses a quote Texas AD DeLoss Dodds to drive home its point about TLN being an "athletics representative."

“This is yet another step leading up to our launch which will offer viewers unprecedented access to our sports programs …” Dodds said in a January press release.

All of it means that Monday's Big 12 AD meetings in Dallas to discuss "institutional networks" could be the most significant for the conference in more than a year. During the 2010 spring meetings in Kansas City, the seeds were planted for Nebraska and Colorado to leave the conference. During those meetings, Texas reaffirmed its desire to start a network.

"Our goal is to keep this together," A&M AD Bill Byrne said. "I don't see anything contentious about it."

The league recently agreed to a lucrative 13-year, $1.2 billion deal with Fox for its secondary rights. It figures to score another windfall when its ABC/ESPN rights expire after 2015-16. But cracks already are beginning to appear nationally and in the Big 12. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott reiterated last week what he told CBSSports.com in May.

" ... It's my view there will be further expansion down the road," Scott said during the Pac-12 media days.

Texas A&M appears to have leverage with a potential move to the SEC. That could lead to a tsunami of conference realignment if other conferences are forced to react within the marketplace.

Texas has long been speculated to become an independent if it isn't happy with the Big 12. (Although it has never been addressed what would happen with Texas' highly-competitive minor sports.) The school came within a heartbeat of joining the Pac-10 in 2010. A portion of Texas' contract with ESPN states that if Texas is not a member of a conference, ESPN would have 60 days to make an exclusive deal for those TV rights. It would have 48 hours to match any competing offer. That information was reported by the Austin American-Statesman after a Freedom of Information request.

Given the potentially shaky Big 12 partnership, a school like Missouri suddenly would have multiple options in perhaps the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, even the Pac-12. There is every indication, though, that the current situation will be resolved. That still doesn't mean the Big 12 is a long-term proposition.

The growing controversy over broadcasting high school games seems to have only two resolutions. Either it will happen or it won't. Texas and ESPN officials have said they are fine if the NCAA restricts the airing of high school games. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has put a moratorium on the practice until the issue is resolved.

Also at issue is Texas' intention to broadcast a conference game on TLN. That raises issues as to whether a conference member would be helping promote the network by its participation.

What you don't hear at the moment is Texas and ESPN backing down on their own on the issue of high school games. Technology, at this point, is moving faster than the NCAA's ability to react to it. Texas' intent to show high school content via broadband distribution and a coming Longhorn application has Texas A&M and others concerned.

Adding to the confusion is that Texas, the Big 12, NCAA and ESPN are all in a symbiotic relationship. Texas is a member of the Big 12 which is a member of the NCAA. All three have financial relationships with media giant ESPN.

Texas and ESPN announced the 20-year, $300 million partnership in January.

The Longhorn Network is the first individual school-centric endeavor on a major network (ESPN). It is launching Aug. 26 but not before having somewhat of a national referendum on the future of such businesses -- and possibly the Big 12 itself.

After a much-hyped, regents meeting earlier this month Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said TLN's intentions create "uncertainty," in the Big 12. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said last week it is "common sense" that Texas not air high school games. While proclaiming solidarity among conference members, commissioner Dan Beebe said, "Any time there is any kind of perceived crack, there's going to be a lot of vultures in the air."

The issue has attracted the attention of the NCAA which has called an Aug. 22 in Indianapolis to discuss the issue. Among those invited include Texas, Notre Dame and the Pac-12. All three have networks or aspirations of forming one.

At issue is whether the ESPN/Texas partnership creates an unfair recruiting advantage. In early June, TLN chief Dave Brown specified in a radio interview that the network intended to show up to 18 high school games as well as travel to other states to show the games of players who had committed to Texas. That's where A&M, and others took notice.

Texas A&M is lobbying the NCAA hard to the point that ruling in favor of Texas "may cause more than simply discussion and consternation among the NCAA membership. It may lead to undesirable developments, a fear of creeping recruiting advantage that compels members to try to create situations for themselves similar to the Longhorn Network ...

" ... then the next step," A&M states to the NCAA, "could easily be an initiative to broadcast nonscholastic events during the otherwise slow collegiate sporting event summer period and it does not take much of an imagination to target men’s and women’s basketball summer tournaments/camps as being of interest to sports fans."

The NCAA already has its hands full with controlling the influence of those non-scholastic events. Basketball is rife with abuses. The association's enforcement department is working diligently trying to control non-scholastic third party influences in football.

College athletics is watching the TLN situation closely. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Thursday that the Big Ten Network is not interested in televising high school games at this time. That could change, he added, the NCAA allows it.

In that case, he said, "we'll probably have to take a look at it."

At the time the original legislation was passed in 1993, 24/7 networks dedicated to one school didn't exist. Texas A&M argued to the NCAA that "the intent and spirit of the rule was that these type of outside/independent entities ... have greater flexibility in conversations with high school-aged individuals ..."

Dodds said Texas would be not involved in selecting high school games to be broadcast.

"We'll just have to let the process work itself out," ESPN's Brown said last week. "We would have liked to have done them [high school games], one game a week, two games a week. If we have to go in another direction we will."

Coach Mack Brown said last week that high school coaches and players would be hurt most through lack of exposure if their games weren't broadcast.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:04 am
 

Big 12's Four Little Piggies should find shelter

DALLAS -- You'd think they would have learned by now, the Big 12's Four Little Piggies.

Excuse the analogy regarding what are really Tigers, Jayhawks, Wildcats and Cyclones, but the conference's North Division leftovers would -- like the nursery rhyme Three Little Piggies -- be wise to look for sturdier homes.

That lesson was driven home last summer when conference realignment came up on Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State and smacked them over the head with a lead pipe. Surprise didn't even begin to describe it when the league started falling apart.

Few knew that Nebraska had secretly begun talking to the Big Ten in January 2010. Texas was going to do what Texas was going to do. The Pac-10 came along and almost conducted a daring raid.

The 4LP came this close to being homeless. The four would have found a home somewhere but that's the point. Better to go house-shopping on your own rather than waiting until a hurricane ruins the neighborhood.

Four schools that had been joined together for parts of a century suddenly would have been scattered.

Missouri: It went from thinking rather foolishly that it was Big Ten bound (it wasn't) to being nowhere but the Big 12 when Nebraska left.

Kansas: The seriousness of conference realignment hit home when a school with a top-five basketball program would have been looking for a home.

Kansas State-Iowa State: Total wild cards. Their markets (small) wouldn't have taken them anywhere specific.

Most likely the four would have ended up in some combination of the Big East and/or Mountain West. Perhaps Conference USA would have been involved trying to make itself into a BCS-worthy league. The Big East was considering inviting all four Piggies if the Big 12 split according to sources. 

The lesson to be learned as conference upheaval once again strikes the Big 12 is for the Four Little Piggies to be proactive. If their administrators aren't maintaining back-channel communications with other leagues then they are foolish. However, the reaction of Jamie Pollard seems typical.

"We're married, I'm married," Iowa State's AD said. "I'm not going to be talking to someone else I’m going to be married to."

The Big 12 was a contentious union for its first 15 years. Thirteen months later, here we are again with Texas A&M upset with Texas' launching of The Longhorn Network.

"That issue [with Texas A&M] has been around that institution for a long time," said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. "Thankfully, the coaches and administrators and others are adamant about being in the Big 12."

Beebe has long preached the dangers of a school moving out of its natural "geographic proximity." For what is believed to be the first time on Tuesday, he basically tipped his hat and wished Colorado good luck for getting closer to its fan base.

"When you remove your institution from your orientation, your rivalries, I think it's really going to be problematic ...," Beebe said. "Colorado went to its orientation because they had 50,000 more alums that were located in the Pac-10 footprint than the Big 12 foot print."


Posted on: July 25, 2011 4:20 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2011 8:43 pm
 

NCAA calls summit re: college networks

The NCAA has called an Aug. 22 summit to discuss collegiate networks, CBSSports.com learned Monday afternoon.

Texas received a letter dated Monday from Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for academic and membership affairs, inviting it to participate in an "educational summit regarding NCAA member and conference networks broadcasting youth sports." The growing issue of broadcasting high school games has become big enough for the main stakeholders to discuss the issue. The meeting will include representatives from Texas, BYU, the Big Ten, Notre Dame, the Pac-12 and the Mountain West. All of those entities have or are starting collegiate networks.

The move almost assures that The Longhorn Network will launch Aug. 26 without broadcasting high school games at least at the beginning of the season. The issue has become the latest hot-button offseason item in college sports because of Texas A&M's concern over Texas gaining a recruiting advantage.

"I'm stunned [at some of this]," said Texas AD DeLoss Dodds. "We've been saying the same thing from the beginning of this. We are not and will never do anything [to violate rules]. I'm a little surprised people would be concerned about us doing something."

Dodds added that the Big 12 ADs will meet Aug. 1 to discuss the issue. Those ADs, minus Texas, are still considering starting their own network. The issues are significant and confusing enough that the NCAA seemingly hasn't been able to rule on the legality of Texas broadcasting high school games.

"If you read Sports Business Journal or the New York Times, you'll see that viewership is up but attendance is down," said A&M AD Bill Byrne. "I'm worried about that. Everybody has a big flat screen. I've got one at my house. If it's a bad day, you don't have to go out to the ballgame, you can stay home. I worry about overexposure." 

Dodds also told CBSSports.com that Notre Dame may be interested in starting its own network after speaking to ND AD Jack Swarbrick.
Posted on: July 24, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Five things about the Big 12

Heading into the conference's media days in Dallas beginning Monday, here are five key issues.

1. Stability. The Big 12 was a shotgun marriage from the start. We're just seeing the latest manifestation of the cultural and geographical incongruity. Texas A&M and Oklahoma are upset at the way Texas has pushed the Longhorn Network on the conference. There was a vague idea that TLN was going to broadcast high school games, but that quickly became a deal-breaker when TLN head Dave Brown went on Austin radio on early June and went Manifest Destiny on the Big 12. Eighteen high school games? Broadcasting out-of-state high school games of 2012 Texas commits? All parties are working things out. The league should stay together -- this time. The point is, the league needs to calm down when level-minded observers point out the conference's instability. Note to the Big 12: The current lineup may last 50 years (doubt it) but quit getting upset every time someone points out Texas is the big dog and usually gets its way. That alone might be enough someday to break up this league. It won't be over this issue, but the Big 12 will continue to live in a constant state of flux.

2. Oklahoma rules. With Texas down and not looking to rebound anytime soon, Oklahoma looks like it is ready to run away and hide in the new Big 12. No surprise. The Sooners won seven of the 15 old Big 12 titles and are loaded again this year. While Bob Stoops hasn’t been able to follow up on that 2000 title, this would be only the second time in the BCS era the Sooners will have been picked as a preseason No. 1.

3. How the North was lost. The remaining members of the division formerly known as the North in the Big 12 face a distinct competitive disadvantage in the new 10-team league. Notably, there will be no more scheduling holes that allowed Kansas to win 12 games in 2007 without having to play Oklahoma or Texas. That's one example. There are more. Point is, the new round-robin Big 12 schedule is going to make it extremely difficult for Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State or Iowa State to make a serious run at a title in the 10-team league. Those schools will be playing Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma each season. Since 2005, the remaining North schools have lost 75 percent of their games to those three. Add to that the reality that every other year, teams will be playing five of nine conference games on the road. Not only is there a competitive disadvantage -- only Kansas State among the four has won a Big 12 title -- there will be a physical toll as well. With a round-robin schedule, there will be fewer breathers.

4. Mack Brown's future. Texas' coach did what any veteran would do when the program slides off the edge of the cliff. He changed his coordinators. Much of the Horns' ability to turn around immediately from a 5-7 disaster will be on the shoulders of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Harsin is credited for making Boise State a huge offensive force in recent years. Diaz's career has soared since he began as an intern at ESPN. If Texas doesn't rebound quickly and begin competing for the conference title again, will this be Mack's final year?

5. Bring the kids, spread out a blanket and watch the fireworks. For whatever reason, the Big 12 has become the most entertaining league in the country. This is a conference that produced Vince Young, Chase Daniel and Jason White. The conference has made its on-field rep with great offenses and great offensive players. Three of the top six players in total offense came from the Big 12 last year. The top two receivers in the country (Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles) were also from the Big 12. Oregon's LaMichael James led the country in scoring. No. 2? Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys and Sooners were 2-3 in passing. With Baylor maturing and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at the top of their offensive games, there are going to be plenty of opportunities to "hang half a hundred on 'em," as Barry Switzer used to say.
Posted on: July 22, 2011 11:12 am
 

Longhorn Network resolution could last to August

A decision on The Longhorn Network's now-controversial programming plan is likely to last into August, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe told CBSSports.com.

Texas A&M, among others, is concerned about TLN's televising high school games and one conference game this season. Beebe released a statement Thursday saying those plans for the network are on hold until a resolution can be reached.

"We need to construct scenarios where everybody benefits," Beebe said.

All parties are essentially waiting for the NCAA rule on the "legality" of TLN to be able televise those high school games. That would seemingly violate NCAA Bylaw 13.10.3 that prohibits a recruit from appearing on "a program" in which a member institution is "instrumental in arranging for the appearance" for the recruit.

The wording, as usual in the NCAA Manual, is complicated and probably has a lot to do with the issue possibly extending into next month. You can read it here.

Texas likely would prefer that the NCAA become the bad guy in this situation. If the NCAA says no, Texas saves face by having to acquiesce to association rules. If the NCAA rules in favor of Texas, then the issue becomes stickier. A&M released a strongly-worded statement Thursday stating its displeasure with the situation.

There is also concern among conference teams playing Texas on TLN. They would essentially be driving ratings and cable subscriptions for a conference rival. Beebe said that one possible solution could be that the Texas opponent in that case could also show the game on its own "carriage system." (broadband, streaming, etc .)

The issue seemingly will not be resolved next week during the Big 12 media days in Dallas. Not all the athletic directors will be available.
Sources within the Big 12 and ESPN are confident the issue will be resolved without any damage to the current conference structure. Thirteen months after Nebraska and Colorado split off, the Big 12 is still dealing with questions about its stability.

In essence, the televising of high school games on TLN is not a deal breaker for ESPN or Texas. Texas AD DeLoss Dodds said he would be comfortable if the NCAA rules prep games cannot be televised.

A&M became further alarmed in early June when TLN chief Dave Brown detailed the high-school plan during an Austin, Texas radio interview.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:26 pm
 

Big 12 in uproar over Longhorn Network

At one point Thursday afternoon, I Tweeted "Big 12 making WAC look stable."

One Big 12 loyalist immediately shot back: "u know something we don't?"

Apparently. Start with the new, 13-month old league looking a lot like the 15-year old previous version of the Big 12 that almost disintegrated last year. It looks just as shaky and twice as disparate. Texas is starting a network on its terms. Everyone else in the Big 12 is having problems with those terms. They include televising high school games and as well as one conference game.

Several issues: Texas A&M, among others, isn't happy with Texas essentially having its own televised recruiting service. That, and conference rivals helping drive ratings and subscribers by playing Texas on its own network.

Commissioner Dan Beebe seemingly had calmed the waters by issuing a Thursday statement saying the issue needed "clarification" and that the league would "manage the interplay". Beebe concluded by saying the pause button had been it on TLN. It could show no more than one game (the opener against Rice) and no high school games until things were sorted out.

I thought these types of conflicts would be avoided for at least a few years. But who knew Texas and ESPN would launch a network without getting these issues resolved with the rest of the Big 12? Or maybe it doesn't matter. It's the other members -- particularly Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State -- who are just happy to be in a BCS conference at this point.

As one executive intimated to me this week: These schools DO understand why the conference stayed together, right?

Answer: Texas.

That kind of gives you a picture of where things stand at the moment. Texas has all the power, as usual. And most of the rest have to take it except for Texas A&M, and perhaps Oklahoma. A&M made it clear to me Wednesday that the administration is upset with comments made by TLN network chief Dave Brown, a long-time power broker in college football for ESPN. 

A&M and OU have some leverage, which translates into jumping to the SEC if pushed too far on this issue. Read this scathing statement from Aggies' AD Bill Byrne.

“I have continued to have concerns about the Longhorn Network since the original announcement by ESPN and Texas. Since last summer, the Big 12 member institutions have committed to work together in a spirit of unity and equality. Recent news reports concerning this network; however, have created a considerable amount of uncertainty.

We had an agreement in place that Big 12 members would have the right to one non-conference football game and four to six basketball games for third tier, or institutional rights. The concept of the Longhorn Network broadcasting two live football games -- with one of these being a conference game -- had not been discussed among the Big 12 athletic directors.

Our concerns were heightened further when news reports surfaced that the Longhorn Network would be broadcasting high school football games featuring Texas high school recruits, including recruits living outside the state of Texas. Knowing how restrictive NCAA rules are regarding any collegiate representative contacting prospects, we contacted the NCAA for an interpretation. We are still waiting for the NCAA's response.

I have continued to communicate our concerns to the conference office and my fellow athletic directors. We are pleased that the Commissioner has started to address these concerns, but many questions remain. These are significant issues for all of collegiate athletics as they relate to broadcast rights, revenue distribution and the recruitment of student-athletes.”


There it is. A&M ain't standing for it and -- best guess -- the SEC would take an Aggie-Sooner package in a heartbeat. That would likely set off a chain reaction of new conference realignment that could lead to the era of super conferences.

What's likely to happen? ESPN isn't going to risk the disintegration of the Big 12 (a partner) to show high school games on TLN (a different, new partner). ESPN made a financial commitment to the Big 12 last year to keep Texas in the fold, if for no other reason than the Horns having a launching pad for that network. Essentially, we're talking about Big 12 game inventory (a lot) being worth more than TLN's (a little) to ESPN.

If the NCAA doesn't rule that the high school games are an unfair recruiting advantage, Texas/ESPN will simply back down and not show them. It's worth it to keep everyone happy. Sources here at the SEC media days told me that the high school programming isn't a huge deal. It would be nice to have on the TLN but its absence is not going to wreck it.

Guess that means more re-runs of the Mack Brown Show. I'm sure A&M will be happy with that.
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:08 pm
Edited on: July 1, 2011 12:10 pm
 

Tom Osborne on the move to the Big Ten

This is the day Nebraska officially says goodbye to more than a century of history in the same conference. It started with the old Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1907. It ended Friday when Nebraska left the Big 12 and joined the Big Ten.

Gone are decades of history in the old Big Six, Seven and Eight. Gone are memorable games with Oklahoma. Gone is Nebraska's preeminent spot in its conference. It is joining the nation's oldest conference populated with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and others. Nebraska is still a big fish, only in a bigger pond.

Where does one of the country's most recognizable football factories fit in? In this companion blog to Friday's story on conference realignment, CBSSports.com tried to find out in this exclusive interview Nebraska legend/AD Tom Osborne.


CBSSports.com: How is the Big Ten different than the Big 12?

Tom Osborne: "Probably a little more traditional, more emphasis on traditional rivalries, not that they weren't there in the Big 12. When the Big 12 was formed Oklahoma began to face South, focus on the game with Texas. Nebraska-Oklahoma was no longer a regular game. It seems that the Big Ten puts an emphasis on history and tradition.

"I would say that the Big Ten is more oriented toward a level playing field in that they don't preserve a large percentage of TV money for those that appear more frequently.

"What all that does is probably lead to a little more stability. I'm not saying one's right and one's wrong ... I would compare it to the NFL model with pretty much equal revenue distribution. If you're in a major market you're able to generate a lot more money. Generally, the Yankees do better because they make more money."

CBSSports.com: Were you surprised Nebraska was kicked out of the Association of American Universities? (Note: The AAU is a prestigious group of research universities. For the first time in its 111-year history, it voted a member out. It was supposed that Nebraska's AAU membership was key to its being attractive to the Big Ten.)

Osborne: "It came out of the blue. The thing that was difficult, we're a land-grant college in an agricultural state. The AAU decided they weren't going to count those agricultural research dollars. Our medical school is on a separate campus. If that was not the case we would have been [OK] ... They chose to discard us."

CBSSports.com: What about assimilation in the Big Ten, football-wise?

Osborne: "We'll be in uncharted water but so will they. They'll have no familiarity with Nebraska and we have little familiarity with them. An outsiders' perspective is we'll probably be playing with a traditional defense, three linebackers on the field. In the Big 12 you found yourself playing with one linebacker and six defensive backs a lot of the time. If you're playing teams with one running back or no running back and five or six receivers, it becomes sort of a matchup game.

"I can relate to it a little better. You'll see more teams that have a tight end and fullback in the game. In the Big 12, you saw some teams with no tight ends."

CBSSports.com: Will Nebraska have to change its recruiting focus? It has been a national program in that sense in the past.

Osborne: "The orientation is not very much different. We've always been a national recruiting program. I imagine there will be a little more emphasis in the Big Ten states. We've always been in Texas, California."

CBSSports.com: It's amazing after all the conference realignment upheaval, it's Nebraska's brand name that carried it through. In other words, population density didn't necessary matter.

Osborne: "I don't want to sound [presumptuous], but there was something there that was attractive to the Big Ten. Whereas they had a chance to bring in a school from a more heavily populated area. We're glad they did invite us."

CBSSports.com: What's your feeling about Jim Tressel? He was key part of this early on, in that he stopped by and you showed him around the athletic department last spring.

Osborne: "It's very sad. I know Jim personally. I believe him to be basically a very good person. I just imagine he's made a wrong decision ... I don't see him as a person trying to do something intentionally unethical."

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:41 pm
 

Is the Pac-12 through expanding?

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The architect of the latest round of conference realignment says the earthshaking hasn't stopped.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told CBSSports.com that there could be more conference movement before 2020. Scott was named No. 1 Friday in CBSSports.com's college football top 100 for 2011.

"I don't see anything major on the horizon -- short term, a few years," Scott said. "I'd be surprised if in the second half of this decade, we don't see another major round."

What, he was asked, would set it off?

"It could be TV deals," he said. "It could be other politics and dynamics within the NCAA. If I had to guess I would say it would be economic. That's why I believed it made sense [to expand] and continues to make sense."

A marketplace starving for content and a bunch of major conferences coming up for rights fees renewal caused the latest shifts. Conference affiliation has become more about your rightsholder than your league partners. The leagues that have the most schools desirable to the networks make the most money. That's why we came close last year to ushering in the era of superconferences. Texas was seriously considering joining the Pac-10 a year ago.

It was last June when Scott narrowly missed shaking college athletics to its foundations with a bold play to lure half the Big 12 to the Pac-10 to form the Pac-16. The deal was all but done but ESPN and Fox intervened at the last minute making financial promises that essentially convinced Texas to stay in the Big 12.

Having to "settle" for expansion with Utah and Colorado, the Pac-12 still landed a record rights deal in May with the same two outlets. Fox and ESPN joined as partners in the Pac-12 deal to pay the league $3 billion over 12 years. What would a Pac-16 have been worth?

"It's hard to know," Scott said.

Given that a 12-team league that didn't include Texas was worth $3 billion, a 16-team conference with the Longhorns would have been worth at least $4.8 billion. That's a conservative estimate of $25 million per school multiplied by 12 years.

Would the Pac-12 still be interested in Texas? Any league would be interested in Texas. The Longhorns are happy for now, starting their own network within the framework of the now 10-team Big 12. But clearly the geographical challenges of flying from Austin to the West Coast didn't matter when Scott made his play last year.

"There was a 48-hour period during that week where it was close," said Chris Bevilacqua, the Pac-12 TV consultant.

Bevilacqua may be the first industry insider to admit that it was ESPN and Fox that saved the Big 12 a year ago. Neither network could afford for the Big 12 to go away so they both made financial promises in order to keep it together. Had the Big 12 broken up, that would have eliminated one BCS conference that accounts for 16 percent of the households in the middle of the country. With the Pac-10 going out to bid this year, there was a possibility that both ESPN and Fox would have been shut out of two BCS leagues.

The Big 12 recently signed a long-term deal with Fox for its secondary rights for $90 million per year.

"They [ESPN, Fox] conspired, of course they did," to save the Big 12, Bevilacqua said. "That's a fact."



Category: NCAAF
Tags: Big 12, ESPN, Fox, Pac-12, Texas
 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com