Yesterday a story broke stating that the Pac-10 was preparing to offer six Big 12 schools (The Universities of Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, as well as Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State) admission to the Pac-10.
Unlike most rumor reports, this story was reported in great detail by a blogger, Chip Brown, at Orangebloods.com. Orangebloods.com is a site that reports heavily on doings at UT. In the article, Mr. Brown reported having confirmed the leak with multiple sources.
The story was deemed credible enough to be picked up and linked by Yahoo.com.
Overnight there was a report from reporter Kyle Ringo of the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera that appears to have added a second layer of authenticity to the rumor. Ringo quoted Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn as saying "The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it."
He also reportedly told Ringo that Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could receive invitations possibly as soon as this weekend when Pac-10 officials meet in San Francisco.
The Pac-16 is a goldmine for all involved
I have previously written a couple articles that go into why I felt it was inevitable that the Pac-10 and UT, Colorado, and A&M would eventually be at this point. This first one discusses the financial implications and this second one looks at UT's options. I also wrote one that focused on the OU "problem".
I will try to nutshell the arguments here.
The Pac-10 simply cannot claim peer status with an expanded 16 member Big Ten as a 10 or 12 member league.
The Big Ten members are not likely going to expand if it doesn't increase their TV revenue, so one has to consider $22M the new low-water mark for the Big Ten.
The Pac-10 would be lucky to pull in half of that per member school with a 10-12 member conference. Even if they started their own network, I would guess (total guess looking at time zones and demographics) their payouts would likely be at least 30-40% less than that Big Ten low water mark.
Over time that would bleed the competitiveness out of their rivalry with the Big 10.
The ONLY way to get the Pac-10 up to Big 10 revenue streams would be to add Texas (ie. UT and/or A&M). And the only way for the Pac-10 to land UT would be to protect the rivalries from which UT generated over $120 Million dollars of non-TV revenue.
This offer allows UT to stay in a conference with all of their Big 12 South rivals (except Baylor which offers no media markets of note and has been mostly non-competitive in the revenue sports since their admission into the conference) and to keep an affiliation with the other Public Ivy in the Big 12, Colorado.
This takes care of the political hurdles in Texas and Oklahoma, by graciously letting in OSU and Texas Tech - two schools which clearly lack the research budgets and academic pedigrees that the elite academic schools in the Pac-10 covet.
It acknowledges that OU can really hurt UT's finances if they chose, so it also overlooks OU's relatively limited research budget.
It gives all six of these universities a chance to dramatically improve both their academic reputations and the very real potential of adding millions upon millions...upon millions of research dollars to their annual spending by joining one of the premiere research consortiums in the world.
Oh, and their TV payouts would likely be in Big 10 territory to boot.
The offer gives everything UT and any of the other 5 Big 12 schools could want in terms of membership...so why are the athletic directors at UT (DeLoss Dodds) and A&M (Bill Byrnes) publicly spitting on the deal?
UT desires are reasonable but some concessions might be required
I am probably alone among fans of college sports in this world in understanding and somewhat agreeing in principle with UT's stance on wanting to have their own network.
Yes, that is UT's complaint.
They want to run their own network. That is UT's AD DeLoss Dodds' issue.
And as I said, I can understand it.
UT plows a ton of money into ALL of their sports and has become a regular national contender in most of them. Why should they not start a network to broadcast all of that content, much of which goes unbroadcasted, to their fans? To not do so is leaving money on the table.
UT's conference mates (and potential future conference mates) aren't looking at this the right way.
UT has every right to try to make money off broadcasting their gymnastics or golf team or old football games. To try to block UT from doing so because Oklahoma or Oregon doesn't have the startup funds to start their own networks or the excellent accross sports for every season of the year is an unreasonable stance.
I do understand that at issue is competitiveness.
Getting to yes.
I believe the answer is to allow any school (or combination of schools) in the conference to start such a network (including UT) but any athletic competition that the conference's network deems worthy of broadcast is broadcast live on the conference's network and delayed 30 minutes on the school's network.
If UT wants to show their victory over OU over and over all week long, let them as long as the league's network gets the priority option on the initial broadcast of all games.
Then there is the revenue question.
Simply require all profits from a university's (or universities') network to go towards academic scholarships at said school(s).
UT gets to earn and keep their money, which is their point. The financial balance of power in athletics in conference would be maintained at today's status quo, which is the point of their conference mates.
A&M could be the real problem
A&M AD Bill Byrne cooked up a very contrived arguement about the affects of travel across time zones on athletes to fluff up the Aggies' SEC preference in the Orangeblood article.
To hear Byrne talk, one would think A&M will be put in the Pac-8 division.
While I don't dispute that Byrne is bothered by students taking a red eye home and getting up early for a morning class, it is garbage talk. The argument is totally disengenuous.
I have said this over and over. There is a contingent at A&M that just wants to be in the SEC. They wanted to be in the SEC when the SWC ended... and they still haven't gotten over it. They think that is the key for them to emerge from UT's shadow.
The initial report from Orangebloods.com says A&M has been sneaking out the backdoor to talk to the SEC.
There are people in the athletic department and in the fan base who still want to be in the SEC over the Pac-10 despite the likely loss of millions upon millions...upon millions of added research dollars, the likely decline of their institution's academic reputation, and the fact that it will be much harder to be a contender for a football national title in the SEC that it would be in this new Pac-10.
I think it is plain bugnuts, but there it is.
If A&M tries to join the SEC, it will probably scuttle this deal and force UT to block A&M's move. (UT and A&M have reportedly loosely agreed to veto power on each other.) All of the Big 12 six besides Colorado will then stay in the Big 12 and all that research money that would make the residents of this state and Oklahoma much, much more prosperous will be lost forever.
The thought is if the Aggies can block the Pac-10 move long enough, the Pac-10 will lose interest. Then the Big 12 will die it's inevitable death and A&M can then convince OU - who's realistic options would ordinarily be Big 12 or the SEC - to drag UT into the SEC.
As a resident, I am pissed at Aggie leadership. If UT or A&M move to the SEC, it blows the doors to Texas recruiting wide open. The SEC will have much greater success pulling 4 & 5 star recruits out of the state.
Our most talented kids will be driving the financial engine of the deep south states, not Texas.
The SEC will improve with the added talent, especially the west, which will ensure A&M remains the same middle of the pack school they have been lately.
Not only will their stupid move backfire on them, it will also cut into UT's recruiting, dragging them down from an annual title contender, and will dramatically hurt TCU and Tech's recruiting.
It would crush college football in the state for at least a decade and probably two to three as extraction from the SEC would be damn near impossible.
The exact opposite occurs if they join the Pac-10. The new affiliation would act as a firewall cutting off SEC recruiting efforts. The Pac-10 schools will get a few more recruits, but they are generally too far away for most Texas high schoolers. UT, A&M, Tech, and OU would all have regular top 25 talent if not better. A&M would again have a shot at national titles as would all of that foursome.
The Aggies' stance is, in the opinion of this author, mind-numbingly stupid.
All of Texas would suffer for A&M's intransigence.
Where are the academics at A&M (and UT) pushing back against this kind of thinking?
TCU and Tech alumni need to get their legislators all over A&M on this one. Frankly all residents of Texas need to be writing their legislators over this. This has the potential of totally reversing the brain drain that has most of our valedictorians and salutatorians fleeing the state after high school.
Those are driven kids who often come up with inventions and breakthroughs in their 20's that are turned into money making businesses. If we keep them in state, we get those jobs, not the rest of America.
This is a financial issue. A&M is talking about taking money out of all of our wallets.
I feel residents of Texas should all be pissed with A&M's leadership over this.
Getting to yes
To be blunt, bribery worked last time....Let's do it again.
When we needed A&M to come with us to the Big 12, the Lt. Governor got the votes for A&M to get their new basketball arena.
A&M's athletic department is something like $16M in debt due to what some might call gross mismanagement. It is an embarrassing situation. As they are the leaders of the biggest source of contention, lets pay that off in return for their vote.
Every other team in the conference could give A&M their first $1.07M of the new TV contract. Done, A&M's athletic department is out of debt.
If that won't work, as a Texas resident I would be OK with a one time $16M bribe of the Aggie's athletic department out of our tax dollars in exchange for A&M not screwing the state out of a fast track to make Tech the state's third tier 1 institution.
Finally a word for the Pac-10 schools...
Please be patient. And please keep the offer available.
The longer this offer is out there, the more Texans will realize what a great financial deal this is for the people of the state.
If UT and A&M continue down this path they will start to feel heat from the citizens of Texas through the state legislature.