A report came out in the last few days that revealed that Baylor was trying to bump Colorado from the list of six Big 12 schools that the Pac-10 is considering. Apparently 15 of Texas's 181 state legislators are playing on Lone Star pride to push to make the inclusion of the Bears part of the conditions for the state approving UT, A&M, and Tech, three public schools, to the Pac-10.
As a sports fan, I am offended.
As a Texan taxpayer, I am enraged.
What are the schools' options?
The Big 10 and SEC won't include Texas Tech and the SEC doesn't offer the academic and research bounce the Pac-10 and Big Ten do.
This is the ONLY deal out there that adds Tech and helps it progress into the state's third "tier 1/research university", will pay all 3 schools in the ballpark of $20M+ each in TV revenue annually (something the Big 12 TV deal will not be able to match), and preserves the valueable games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that generate some much of the Texas trio's athletic revenue.
It guarantees the three major publics will be in one of the top 2 conferences in athletics and academics at the BCS level from here on out.
It would make the value of a UT or A&M degree far more portable and as such, far more valuable. Currently those degrees are only properly weighed by the general public in Texas and it's neighboring states.
Inclusion in a Pac/SW 16 would make those degrees weighed properly by the public in all of the finacially prosperous Pac-10 footprint as well. (Additionally, considering the Pac-10's unique relationship of peers with the Big 10, it could very possibly lead to those degrees being properly weighed accross that footprint as well.)
It would dramatically increase the value of one of those degrees in a way a move to the SEC (based in a poor region) never could.
This hits every wish a Texans could have, but our legislature is considering skunking it by forcing the Pac-10 to replace a school they have pursued for almost two decades (Colorado) with a school the Pac-10 has never expressed any public interest in adding (Baylor).
Baylor doesn't deserve a Pac-10 invite.
Baylor hasn't shown they deserve to be in a BCS conference as a member of the Big 12. Since the formation of the Big 12, they are 36-100 (.265 winning percentage) in football with no bowl appearances since they were politically forced onto the Big 12.
That's right, no bowl appearances.
As a Texan, I have to ask, why are we trying to force our lamest school on the Pac-10? I grew up taking pride in Texas football. If anything we should be seeing if that obscure clause that allows us to split the state into 5 states might somehow allow us to pass the city of Waco like a gall stone over to some lamer neighboring state like Oklahoma or Arkansas --- not freaking include them in another conference in which they are incapable of competing! (I apologize to Sooners, Cowboys, and Razorbacks, as a Texan, I am legally required to take the obvious potshots at your states when the opportunities arise.)
Baylor has been about a .500 school in basketball in the Big 12 - competitive at least, but just bad enough to miss the NCAA tourney most years.
If a national basketball power like Kansas can't get an invite to this party, why should Baylor based on their basketball?
Baylor has an athletic budget of $ 48.5 Million (9th in the Big 12. Baylor and the 3 bottom athletic bugets in the Big 12 are seperated by about $3 Million dollars.) of which probably something in the ballpark of $7 Million was from Big 12 TV revenue (they earned 7.1M from the Big 12's TV pool in 2007 despite bringing nothing of signifigance to the table in TV terms. Waco is the nation's 98th most populous Designated Market Area. Denver is nation's 16th largest DMA.).
They averaged 36,306 last year per football game and over the years their average home attendance has been in the 35,000 range. And that is with neighboring powers UT and A&M with their huge fan bases bringing 9-10,000 fans with them each year as they alternate propping up Baylor's season attendance average.
It is a sign of how non-competitive Baylor has been that Longhorn and Aggie Fans can't even bring themselves to drive to Waco. (The game against one of those schools in Baylor each year draws about 44,000. It may not be a stretch to say that UT would do better playing Larry Coker's UT- San Antonio team in that football slot.)
The whole thing paints a picture of a CUSA-candidate - a sub-BCS sized fan base in a market of no note.
Finally their restrictive religion based rules and disinterest in research makes them a potential poison pill for the Pac-10 membership which as a conference values things like research and non-interference with academic pursuits, the general guidelines behind AAU membership.
(If the Pac-10 wanted a member that applied religion to stunt academics and research wouldn't they invite BYU with their fan support? It is about double Baylor's and well above average in that regard for a BCS School.)
Baylor is not Colorado academically. Baylor is a great school at which to earn an undergrad degree, but Colorado does a lot of research - much of it with Pac-10 schools. Colorado has been informally deemed a Public Ivy due to their overall excellence (UT is the other Public Ivy in the Big 12 footprint - a big reason why the Pac-10 has pursued both schools near exclusively for almost 20 years.)
UT and A&M appear to be using the implausible Baylor scenario in a game of chicken with the commisioner of the Pac-10 Larry Scott.
Scott has released the news that "he has been given the authority from the league's leaders to "advance" any expansion process". I beleive he has released this news to undercut UT & A&M's "support" for Baylor.
It seems likely the idea is to say to UT and A&M, "OK you guys really want to be tied to Baylor forever? Go for it." assuming that UT and A&M's support will vanish once they realize Scott can do it.
Does Scott have some flexibility in who he ads? Probably. Does he actually have the approval to add a small fan base, no media market school that isn't into research and applies religion to their academics like Baylor? I'll beleive it when I see it.
I am disgusted that the Baylor 15, including Rep. Charles 'Doc' Anderson (Waco) appear to only be presenting half of the story in their efforts to "get the legislature 'up to speed.'"
Baylor boosters, alumni, and leadership know their inclusion may very well be a poison pill for the Pac-10, killing the deal.
The fact they are still pursuing it and not being quite honest about that fact, suggests they don't care about how good the Big 12 Six scenario is for UT, Tech, A&M or the state of Texas.
The position stated by Baylor President Ken Starr to News 8 out of Austin, is tellingly on point, not just lipservice like you hear from the other Big 12 schools.
"Baylor emphatically supports the Big 12," Starr said. "And we're hopeful the Big 12 will remain intact."
The facts are the inclusion of Baylor movement likely started out as a means of killing the Pac-10's very fair and gracious plan to add the Big 12 Six.
If Baylor could skunk the offer, it would protect a likely critically wounded and hobbled Big 12 for another 2-4 year allowing the Baylor gravy train to continue for that period - even if it is bad for the taxpayers of the state. (Sounds a lot like privatizing profits and making the public eat the losses, doesn't it?)
Inclusion in the Pac-10 could transform Texas Tech - a public school that Texas taxpayers own - into the state's third public "research university" in short order, fulfilling one the state legislature's goals of adding more research universities to stop the brain drain that costs Texas a lot of high paying jobs. Texas Tech only needs another $ 49 Million increase in their annual research budget to qualify for that status.
With Tech's leadership working hard to secure that funding and being able to use Pac-10 connections, it should be very achievable in short order.
A big part of those new research dollars would come from national and out of state sources. That is a potential huge gain for Texas taxpayers.
Baylor has no drive to do research at a Pac-10 level like Texas Tech does. So why are they trying to push their way into the Pac-10? The best I can come up with would be to keep those fat checks coming in.
Baylor cannot compete with any consistency in the Big 12 - Why should we believe they'd be any more competitive in a Pac/SW 16 that should be even stronger? Baylor already has the optimal location in terms of Baylor revenue generation in the center of the Big 12 South division. They won't be a better geographic postition athletically in a Pac/SW 16.
That is the exact opposite of Colorado, who should get a lot better in this arrangement. The Buffaloes should be able to better tap their transient alumni base - much of which is in California and the rest of the current Pac-10 footprint. A move to this conference would likely allow them to get a big recruiting boost and more donor contributions.
I can't think of a single benefit Baylor would have being in the Pac/SW 16 - beyond continuing to draw an undeserved fat TV check - that would not be matched by simply extracting a legislative promise that UT & A&M will continue to play Baylor each year.
Everything screams that Baylor would be a lot better off with the other Texas privates in Conference USA or a reborn Southwest Conference. Having a solid CUSA-level fan base and a nearby game would really help schools like Houston, SMU, and Rice. Baylor could become another TCU in football in CUSA playing schools with less quality depth.
What is the state legislature thinking to even consider this madness?
They are trying to do right by the state of Texas.
They have been sold a bill of goods by the 15 Baylor legislators and factions of the UT and A&M lobbies who want to kill this deal because they dream of a future without Tech or Baylor. (A&M's recent public statements seem to strongly imply a preference for SEC membership and the leaked correspondence between UT and Ohio State's presidents imply UT prefers Big 10 membership sans Tech. That combination would blow the doors to Texas's top recruits wide open and would suck up all of the recruiting air in Texas, sending top recruits out of state by the busload, likely collapsing college football in the state back to where it was in the 1980's. Both clearly are angling to string out a busted Big 12-3 until public perception deems it an unsalvageable situation allowing them to make their horrifyingly poorly thought out solo jumps.)
I ask state representatives to listen to the arguments for Baylor with a grain of salt.
The facts are this is the quickest way to get a third public research university in the state. It would allow Tech to tap national and out of state research dollars to speed up their transition. It will bring in millions upon millions of research dollars, bringing in better professors and more grad students who could generate ideas that start industries.
Short and long term, this will create tons of high paying jobs in Texas.
We cannot afford as a state to screw this up.
Holding this Baylor idea up to the light of day
I strongly believe we should not be risking skunking the idea of a six team Pac-10 expansion by trying to force out one of the Pac-10's two longtime desired targets. I think it makes no sense to risk a substantial public value gain to to protect a private university's TV check. Even if that private university has a religious affiliation.
Some in Texas might disagree with that stance.
Even in that instance, how exactly is Baylor more deserving than TCU?
TCU has been a consistent Top-25 team in football for the past decade. Their athletic budget is $46.4 Million. If you sutract the TV contributions for their conference's staggering different payouts, TCU has a bigger athletic budget than Baylor - and that is with TCU playing most of the last decade as a distant outlier in a conference (the weakest financial position a team can be in), while Baylor has been dead center in their division with great access to the biggest draws in the Big 12 south (possibly the best physical location of any school in any BCS conference).
In addition, the Mountain West Conference is not heavily followed in Texas, unlike the Big 12.
TCU drew 38,187 per game last year. TCU is in Fort Worth, which even if it is already Big 12 territory (UT, OU,A&M, and Tech all have large Dallas-Fort Worth fan bases that probably exceed TCU's), TCU is still somewhat important in the DFW market.
(And I believe they are also seen as less religiously extreme - and therefore likely more tolerable to Pac-10 university leaders.)
So, larger fan base, notable if already delivered market, less objectionable school.
If we are going to risk skunking this deal and screwing over all of the residents of Texas to bring a religious Texas private a TV check...If any Texas private deserves inclusion in this new conference (and IMO none of them do) it is TCU, not Baylor.
The deal our legislature should really be pushing to secure
The idea of pushing a non-competitive dog of a Texas private into this deal - and in doing so very likely skunking the deal - is exactly not what we should be doing.
We should be blessing the "Big 12 six to the Pac-10 deal" as originally proposed. The deal may only be tolerable for Pac-10 leadership if Colorado and UT are included, so why risk pulling the plug on the deal?
Now that said, the state has to approve this and The Pac-10 schools do need Texas to generate peer TV revenue to what the Big 10 generates. That does mean the state has a right to try to extract a price for going along with the deal (and even compelling UT & A&M to comply and look out for Tech and take the deal).
I would argue as a Texas taxpayer that the price should be the Pac-10 redefining their athletic consortium as separate from their athletic conference and giving an expanded, but limited number of Texas publics access to it as less prestigious "associate members" of that academic and research consortium.
(The Big 10 has seperated their academic and research consortium from their athletic conference. Their Council Cooperation -CIC - has 12 members - the 11 members of the athletic conference plus the University of Chicago. This request would not be unprecidented in terms of execution and would not force the Pac-10 to deviate from the stated desire of both conferences to mirror each other to large degree.)
The Pac-10 has six of the top 30 research budgets in the nation. To put it in perspective the research budgets at 9 of the Pac-10 schools grossly dwarf UT's athletic budget.
This kind of affiliation could bring millions upon millions of research dollars into the state fuelling an explosion of permanent high paying jobs and fast tracking a number of Texas Public to that "research university" status.
This would allow the other 6 universities seeking that research university status (UNT, Houston, UTA, UTD, UTSA, and UTEP) and another large public that probably will want to try to take that step one day soon (Texas State) full access to shared materials and resources just like all the other Pac-10 members and would encourage inter-institutional research as if they were full members of the Pac-10.
(This is more or less the concept. I leave it to people who deal with the day to day process of helping the 7 schools work towards research university status to specify the details of an appropriate request. As a taxpayer, I only request that the requests are modest. Even if the other 6 and Texas State just get access to source materials with very modest research dollar gains, this would still be a great deal for all involved.)
At it's best, it would allow all of those schools to share in the Pac-10's pursuit of research dollars. That could bring a ton of additional research money into Texas, many more high paying jobs, and help these publics in their efforts to become research unversities. It would have a positive effect on over 150,000 Texas college students.
Students, employees, and alumni at UNT, UTD, UTA, UTSA, UTEP, Texas State, and Houston, as well as citizens of Texas who want the best return possibles on their tax dollars, need to join Tech fans and alumni in pushing the legislature to kill the Baylor deal and push for a better future for all Texans, not just Baylor.
I do agree with one argument put forth by a Baylor-linked legislator recently . Texas state Rep. Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) was quoted by the Denver post as saying, "If any state entity does something contrary to the best interest of the state, there are consequences."
Potentially driving away tons of high paying jobs for residents of the state and not increasing the value of the degrees of a number of Texas public universities just so Baylor can get an undeserved TV check and UT and A&M can bail out on Tech in the near future in a move that would kill football at Tech, TCU, SMU, and Houston should earn all 3 universities a legislative skinning if allowed to occur.
Please write your local representative and tell them how you feel.
I sincerely hope at some time in the near future a legislator in each house reads this to their assembly.
Update: According to Orangebloods.com, the Colorado Board of Regents will be approving a Pac-10 invite, strongly implying that The Pac-10 offered them a slot and the Baylor thing is dead. I encourage everyone to read the Orangeblood article before commenting.