Big 12 Realignment: Texas Saves Big 12 Conference, But Kills Pac-10 Dreams

Ross LipschultzAnalyst IJune 15, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  The University of Texas band is seen in the stands prior to the Citi BCS National Championship game between the Texas Longhorns and the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

 Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe may want to change the Big 12 to the “Mack 10,” because Texas is the only reason he’s keeping his job.

            ESPN reported early Monday that Texas’ move to make a Nitro Pac-15 was “imminent.”

Six hours later, the story completely inverted. The Longhorns’ decision to stay out of the Pac-10 took center stage, pushing the World Cup to the back-burner of news wires.

            If you are a Big 12 fan, grab a vuvuzela and start the celebration. 

            And though it might be hard to do, Sooner, Aggie and other Big 12 schools should send Thank You cards to Austin. By strongly considering joining Colorado’s trip out west, Texas earned the conference a boat load of money, making them the richest people on a boat since T-Pain.

            Just look at their new television deal. Before 2010, the Big 12’s annual contract paid $78 million per year to be split amongst the 12 teams. The new agreement, however, pays more $200 million, with Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech all slated to get at least $20 million each per year.

            Mack Brown can now add a top hat and monocle to his typical game-day vest so he can look like the Monopoly Man.


            But this deal came out of nowhere. There were no talks of a new television deal before today, and the threat of losing those big teams spurred a major network (FOX, most likely) to pony up the cash. Since Texas led the pack’s decision, their long wavering forced the TV network’s hand, bringing the wheelbarrows of Benjamin’s back to the Big 12.

            Texas also gets the cherry on top. According to, the Longhorns will now get their own television network, which is projected to score between $3 and $5 million that goes straight into the university’s pockets.

            Hey, now they can afford to recruit a backup quarterback!

            The benefits don’t end there. With Nebraska and Colorado officially jumping ship to bring the total of inappropriately named conferences to three, the Big 12 is due around $10 million from both schools in buyout penalties. This money will be split amongst the 10 remaining schools.

            With the debt some of the conference’s schools are in, this acts as a huge bailout.

            Except in this one, no one saves Chrysler.

            Some have argued that the loss of the Denver and Nebraska markets will cost the league in revenue. But Big 12 league officials have squashed those fears immediately, showing that it hasn’t hurt their negotiating power. The other seven schools will all receive between $14 and $17 million per year, doubling their current income from television deals.

            Sounds like a win-win for everyone right?

            Except the Pac-10. They make out about as well as Robert Green will when he returns to England.

            The conference that looked like it would be a mega league now is scrambling. It needed Texas and Co. and it failed.

It’s clear Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott only offered Colorado in order to lure the Texas and Oklahoma schools to join . He wanted access to the massive television market from those states, and wound up getting Denver.

A city that cares about teams not named “Broncos” as much Mike Holmgren as cares about dieting.

According to Chip Brown of, during the negotiations for a new television contract, the Big 12 gave every team a value of how much they impact the conference’s revenue.

            Colorado’s value? 0%

            If this were a kickball game, the Pac-10 just picked the kid with no legs.


            With revenue sharing, the Pac-10’s members have to split some of their already small slice of the conference’s $58 million television contract with the Buffs. Colorado couldn’t even afford to pay ex-head coach Dan Hawkins’ buyout in 2009, and with the buyout penalty on top of that, the school’s budget looks like Enron’s.

            And that’s not all. Missing out on Texas and Oklahoma means missing out on tons of recruiting possibilities. Those two states churn out some of the best players in the nation, and without conference ties in the state, the Pac-10 remains an outsider looking in at a gold mine.

            On the flip side of that, the Big 12 makes out like bandits. They protect their recruiting base, and by trimming the fat of Colorado and Nebraska, there’s more talent to spread across the 10 remaining schools, which could bring more teams to national prominence.

            All of this started, and ended, with Texas. They were the driving force behind the Pac-10’s expansion plans, and now that they can’t have the Longhorns, they likely will settle for a school like Utah to balance out the conference.

            Yes, the Utes have been exceptional lately, but even the Mormons know Texas is the Mecca of college football.

            However, they might not know much about actual Mecca.

            The ‘Horns also drove many teams to stay, and the Big 12 wins on all levels. They only had to sacrifice one valuable team and a conference championship game in order to get a television contract that rivals the deals of the Big 10 and SEC.

            The only person who could be upset with that kind of money is Latrell Sprewell, because he has a family to feed.

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