Big 12 Conference Realignment: Big 12 Survives, But Is It Better Off?
Aren't we glad that all the conference expansion talk is seemingly all over? With Texas stepping in at the last moment yesterday and putting an end to most of the expansion talk and possibilities, the Big 12 will be staying together and most other conferences will stop looking to expand, at least for now.
We may all be inclined to run to Texas and thank them for saving college football from the mass change it was about to see, but should we really be thanking them? Didn't they come out the big winners in this one with all their little conference buddies extreme losers?
The new revenue deal is as bad as it was before.
Looking at the specifics of the new Big 12 revenue deal (that commissioner Dan Beebe seemingly pulled out of nowhere), Texas clearly remains king of the conference.
It's been reported that most schools in the new Big 12 will be getting $14-17 million in the new deal, which is about twice as much as these schools are receiving now. This is fantastic news.
The current Big 12 money situation is horrible and was the reason for all of these teams looking for new conferences. Now that the whole Big 12 is getting a lot more money, the conference looks to be in a lot better shape than before, right? Not so fast.
In those same reports, it was reported that Texas, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M would be earning $20 million per year from the new contract, a good $3-6 million more than the other seven teams in the conference. Also, Texas will be allowed to start its own TV network, which would earn the school between $3-5 million extra. How is this fair?
It is clear that other than giving more money to the whole conference, the Big 12 is still in the same bad shape it was before.
The big criticism that had been directed at the conference before all the expansion talk started was that the unequal revenue sharing that was in place put teams in the same conference on an unequal playing field. This unequal revenue sharing is still in place in the new deal and the gap between the upper and lower tier teams has even widened! What is the Big 12 thinking?
I know that Dan Beebe and the upper management in the conference probably had to do all of this to keep Texas in the conference, but why did Oklahoma and Texas A&M get included in the 'upper tier' as well? To me, this proves that the Big 12 hasn't learned from it's mistakes and the conference is still on life support.
Did the 'other' schools have any other choice?
With all that said, was it worth it for the other seven schools to still stay in the conference? Probably, because without the Big 12, some of them probably would have been left out of the four super-conferences that were inevitable to form.
Still, it doesn't mean that the seven 'others' are happy with this deal. All of those schools probably know that it is just a band aid for a conference that is probably just going to fall apart in another five years or so, but it is obviously in their best interests to stay in a BCS conference while earning more money, even though it may not be 'fair.'
The future of the Big 12 (-2)
Looking ahead, what do the losses of Colorado and Nebraska mean for this conference? First of all, the conference can't have a championship game with only 10 teams, so they might be looking to expand after losing these two North division teams. If so, what schools would be good fits?
TCU - While TCU seems to be a good fit academically and athletically, what new revenue opportunities would they bring to the table? Because they are located smack dab in the middle of Big 12 country, I don't see the logic behind adding them to the conference, but their name has been floated out there.
BYU - This would be a fairly good add for the Big 12 because they would be able to expand far into the west and lay claim to a chunk of the country that no BCS conference has a claim to. The only problem I see with BYU is the scheduling conflicts that would occur due to their unwillingness to play anything on Sundays (religious reasons).
Air Force - This school has also been floated out there, but I don't see it. Yes, their football team has been fairly good over the past couple of seasons, but I don't know if they have the full athletic program to survive in the Big 12.
Louisville - Here's where it get's interesting. Moving east would be a smart move for the Big 12 and Louisville would be a good catch, academically and athletically. What motivation do they have for moving from the Big East? I don't know, but this would be good for the Big 12.
This re-expansion discussion for the Big 12 may be moot in few years because we will probably see the conference dying again in the next five years. It is quite obvious that the new revenue sharing deal is still very unfair, so expect to see the 'others' inquire on joining new conferences whenever that possibility arises again.
Kudos to Dan Beebe and his crew for keeping the Big 12 together for now, but I don't believe that even the upper management of the conference believes that it can survive for much longer.
Whenever college athletics decide to go to the megaconferences that seemed so inevitable only 48 hours ago, the Big 12 will almost certainly be one of the conferences that is left for dead because of their unfair distribution of money.
At least all the talk and speculation about conference expansion that has occurred over the past couple of months can now end and we can get back to getting ready for the 2010 college football season to start!
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