As expansion talks heat up around the country, specifically in the Big Ten and the Pac-10, rumors of Texas possibly joining the Big Ten have taken the nation by storm. The move could turn the Big Ten into one of the two permanent elite conferences.
But why would Texas join the Big Ten? While there may be thousands of underlying political reasons, the answer is actually simple. Money and Exposure.
Despite its recent success in football, the Big 12 doesn't even compare to the Big Ten monetarily. Most Big Ten teams consistently sell out their games, while Texas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma are the only Big 12 teams who consistently fill the stands. Plus, the Big Ten normally gets two teams into BCS bowls, while the Big 12 rarely does, making more money for the league as a whole.
With the addition of the Big Ten Network, the Big Ten gets more television and media exposure than any other conference.
Add that to all of the ESPN exposure and merchandise sales, and you have the most profitable conference in the country.
Sure Texas might have to worry about increased travel costs and lost rivalries. But when talking about money, this is a great deal for the Longhorns and a great deal for the Big Ten.
But for the rest of the country, this move would only further separate the top conferences from the lower ones and possibly monopolize major college football.
College football is about money, like you didn't already know that. That's why Ohio State, Penn State, Texas, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Iowa (probably the best traveling fan bases in the country) are continuously chosen for better bowl games over teams who might deserve those games more. It's also why the BCS is still in place.
And as money continues to become more important in college football, a monopoly could form allowing the Big Ten and the SEC to basically run the sport.
We already knew that the Big Ten, and even the ACC, have the power to pull teams from smaller conferences such as the Big East or the WAC, but the fact that the Big Ten has the power to pull teams from a highly respected conference like the Big 12 sent shockwaves throughout college football.
And it's not like Texas is just another Big 12 team, it's the heart of the conference. And the fact that the Big Ten may be able to pluck teams at will should scare every other conference in college football.
Is it practical that the Big Ten and the SEC could eventually absorb all of the other conferences? No. But if they do grab a few key teams from the other leagues, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC, and Oregon, they will have a strong hold on the monetary and political aspects of the game.
Think about it. A Big 12 led by Oklahoma State and a Pac-10 led by Oregon State aren't even as elite as the Mountain West.
With their new additions, the Big Ten and SEC would be on TV in virtually every prime time game and have basically control the media aspect of the game. With all of their money, they could influence changes in NCAA rules that would benefit their teams.
Most college football fans love to hate the BCS because it favors the major teams and conferences in college football, but the BCS haters could be fighting a much bigger battle if Texas decides to join the Big Ten.
If the power of the Big 12 were to move, it would prove how much power the Big Ten and its money have on major college football and signal a move to what would be, in essence, a two conference league.
And while the move would be great for Texas and for the Big Ten, it could change college football as we know it. Rumors of Nebraska being willing to talk to the Big Ten have also begun to spread, further signaling a possible monopoly in the future.
Let's hope for the sake of the sport that the Big Ten drops its expansion plans once again. If not, college football could be fighting a much bigger battle than the BCS.
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