In the end, the earth trembled but did not give way. B uildings swayed but did not crumble. The tsunami that was supposed to wash away college athletics as we knew it was barely a high tide on the beach in Maui. In the end, there was nothing of significance to see.
Today the Big East is still standing, the Big 12 too. The Pac-10 and Big Ten got conference games and Notre Dame can still pretend to be Notre Dame.
Most importantly, Texas can run its own conference.
The real winner in all of this is Big 12 Commissioner, Don Beebe. He kept his job and the most dysfunctional conference in college athletics together by raising fear of the unknown to new heights, promising the moon from a TV deal still on the drawing boards and appealing to the collective ego of the University of Texas. Do not underestimate the power of the first and last of those. They are powerful forces that have ruined lesser men.
Beebe convinced those remaining in the Big 12 that they would lose control of their own destinies in a new Pac-10. He convinced them that there was no money in the proposed TV deal and that travel costs would skyrocket. He convinced them that he could do better given some time. He also convinced his members that it was OK to let Texas continue to dictate their futures.
Texas is a real winner in all of this as well. They remain the 500 pound gorilla of the conference in which they keep the lion’s share of the revenues, get to start their own TV network, and don’t have to share power with USC, UCLA, Michigan, or Penn State. They get to continue to believe that they are the school around which college athletics revolves. All things are large in Texas. That is especially true of the egos in Austin.
Yes, there are other winners in all of this too. Boise State gets a conference upgrade and Utah will be the Pac-10's 12th school. Missouri, Pitt, and West Virginia all win too just because they still have a conference to call home. Also, Army and Navy will still have Notre Dame to kick around on their schedule.
There are losers in this battle as well, but even they have cover. The Pac-10 wanted to be the new power of college football but its present TV package was so weak that it was never a drawing card. The Big Ten wanted to be the conference that dragged Notre Dame into the 21st century. Both conferences will get title games when all is said and done, which will rake in millions.
Make no mistake; this entire exercise was about money.
Who controlled it, who generated it, and who gets to keep it. Keep that in mind going forward too because this isn’t really over.
The fault lines that sent so many running for cover are still there. Fear and greed run deep in college athletics and that potent and volatile combination will reach critical mass again sooner rather than later.
All it will take is either NBC changing its mind or offer, a TV package to double its present payout, or some school to be disenchanted by today’s deal that looks bad tomorrow.
If so the ground will again shake.
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