Big 12 Conference Realignment: 12 Questions for Big 12 After Realignment
They say that all good things must come to an end.
Yesterday proved that it was not that time for the Big 12.
Amidst all the rumors, reports, and speculation, the remaining 10 members of the Big 12 conference came together and decided that it was in their best interest to preserve what was left of their conference.
This decision came after commissioner Dan Beebe proposed a new deal, consisting of new TV contracts and the ability for schools to own their own TV networks.
So, the Big 12 has been saved, but there are still many questions about what the conference will look like in the future and other specifics.
Here are 12 questions that explain a bit more about what this revamped version of the conference will be about.
What Led to All of This Anyway?
As with any decision, there were many factors that almost led to the demise of the Big 12.
The biggest one, though, was TV contracts. With the Big 10, SEC, and even the ACC structuring mega TV deals in the past few years, the Big 12 setup, with a payout of $7-$10 million per school, just wasn't cutting it anymore.
Another factor was the drive of Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott to expand his conference. Scott was extremely aggressive in attempting to bring the Big 12 South to the Pacific, and he almost succeeded.
There was also doubt that the Big 12 could survive with only 10 teams. If there wasn't doubt, the remaining schools wouldn't have been shopping around looking for change.
Who Saved the Day?
It's hard to say who really is the hero in this scenario.
If you ask any of the schools that would have been left out in the realignment deal—Baylor, Kansas, Kansas St., Iowa St., or Missouri—they'll tell you in a heartbeat that it was Texas. And they would be right in saying that too.
It's ironic that the reason many expected Texas to leave in the first place—money—would wind up saving the conference. Texas was almost entirely set on moving to the Pac-10 when it learned that it would not be able to start its own cable network, something the Longhorns have been looking at for about two years.
The Big 12's new deal will allow schools to retain local TV rights and thus make more money. So, Texas became the hero, but if you think it was out of charity for the other schools, then you're just naive.
With Colorado departing for the Pac-10 and Nebraska heading for the Big Ten, there are obviously only 10 teams remaining in the conference.
There are four North teams remaining and all six South teams. However, the number of teams in each division will not matter, because with only 10 schools, the conference will not stay divided in divisions.
What Will Happen to the Conference Championship Game?
The NCAA requires a conference to have 12 teams in order to sponsor a conference championship game in football. Conferences can apply for a waiver of that rule to have a championship game, if they do not have 12 teams, but it is unlikely that the Big 12 will do that.
Without a Championship Game, What Will the Schedule Look Like?
The most likely scenario is that the conference will employ a nine-game, round-robin schedule for each season.
That has been voiced by the conference and the schools as the preferable method of play.
Will Nebraska and Colorado Have To Pay the Buyout?
Yes, because the conference remained intact. If the conference had dissolved and ceased to exist, they would have been off the hook, because there wouldn't have been a conference to pay a buyout to.
Now, the two will pay approximately $20 million combined to the conference, and that money will be divided up amongst Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma.
It will be interesting to see how Colorado pays the buyout, because there have been rumors that Dan Hawkins is still the head coach because they couldn't afford to pay his $3 million buyout.
Last time I checked, $9 million > $3 million.
What About the New TV Deal?
Beebe stated this morning that a new deal was not in place yet, but that the promises of a new deal comparable to that of other conferences were based on "verification from consultants that we are in a tremendous position to get a high amount of revenue."
Beebe sent an email to conference presidents with some predictions for the conference on June 1. Beebe stated that there was a network that would pay more to televise Big 12 football. A lot more.
Fox has promised to do just that, and a new deal should be reached in the near future because the current TV deal with Fox is up next year.
The conference's ESPN/ABC contract isn't up until 2016.
When Will Realignment Take Place?
The conference is planning for this new look to begin in 2012. However, Nebraska has talked about leaving for the Big Ten in 2011.
If that happens, then the conference will be left with 11 teams and ineligible for a conference championship game. A waiver will more than likely be applied for in this scenario.
Colorado has stated that it will join the Pac-10 in 2012 for certain.
Will the Conference Expand Back to 12 Teams?
At this point, every school is content with keeping the conference at 10 teams and playing a nine-game, round-robin conference schedule with no conference championship game.
Beebe said that option will be evaluated in the future.
If or When the Big 12 Expands Again, Who Will They Target?
That's an interesting question because of who the Big 12 is surrounded by.
The most likely choice would be TCU, but it doesn't quite measure up to Big 12 standards across the board. TCU also just had Boise St. join the Mountain West Conference, so that is something keeping the Frogs in place. Houston or Rice have also been tossed out there, but neither of those schools seem likely.
One final team that has been discussed by some is Arkansas. For Arkansas to leave the SEC though, they would have to have zero concern about money and be moving solely on the motivation of rejoining their old Southwest Conference rivals.
I'm not counting on the Big 12 re-expanding anytime soon.
Is Realignment Over?
With the Big 12 salvaged, it would APPEAR that all major moves are over.
The Pac-10 had indicated earlier in this process that if the Big 12 teams rejected the invitations, it would try to invite Utah to put the conference at 12 teams and eligible for a conference championship game. That invitation could be issued in the next week or so.
The Big 12 staying intact literally prevented a complete overhaul of the college football world.
Is the Big 12 Secure Now?
This morning, Texas president Bill Powers said, "The way to make the conference stable is public, unequivocal statements of long-term commitment to the Big 12."
Translation: No, it is not, and other conferences could pick teams off at any time. There is no legal agreement binding the conference teams together, aside from the buyout if you leave the conference.
With the way this entire situation has gone, all it will take for teams to consider leaving again is one ideal scenario. Beebe better be right in his assessment of the potential TV deal with Fox, because if not, we could be running through this whole scenario once again very soon. And if it happens again, the Big 12 may not survive.
So, the conference is secure. For at least a year anyway.