Tommy Tuberville, incoming coach for the Texas Tech Red Raiders, was not reserved in attacking the politics that he feels weakens the structure of the Big 12 Conference. Specifically, he implicated Dan Beebe, the current Big 12 Commissioner, indirectly taking him to task for keeping the culture of disparate profit-sharing intact.
On Tuesday, June 29th, Tuberville compared the Big 12 situation to his experience at Auburn in the SEC. "Being here for six months, I've just kind of noticed there's just not a lot of camaraderie in this league like you have in the SEC...It starts with the commissioner.
"And I think [SEC commissioner] Mike Slive has done a good job. [Former SEC commissioner] Roy Kramer did a good job of building a base where everybody was on the same page. And that just has not happened here in the Big 12. It's just a matter of time, to be honest with you, unless they get everybody on the same page."
While not directly referencing Dan Beebe, it is clear that he believes a fair measure of blame rests with the Big 12 Commissioner. Tuberville's rhetoric was certainly direct for a Big 12 newcomer. It's an airing of discontent that many other institutions in the league, by comparison, have not been too willing to air publicly.
Tuberville cites the money distribution in the Big 12 as the reason why the conference's days are numbered.
Coach Tuberville forecasts, "I just don't think this conference will last long because there's just too much disparity between all the teams here. I've just noticed that in the SEC, for instance, Vanderbilt makes as much money in the TV contract as Florida. Everyone is good with it, everybody's on the same page, gets the same amount of votes."
Reading between the lines, Tuberville is shedding light that the Big 12 members are not really as unified as they have projected post expansion losses of Nebraska and Colorado.
The power behind the Big 12 culture, for instance, has made Missouri into the league pariah after what was perceived as prior soft campaigning to be included in the Big 10 expansion plans.
Most outside the league, however, see Missouri's position as par for the course given the politics within the Big 12. Inside the league, however, strife has been sown and the Tigers were cast at one point as a turncoat of the league.
Says Tuberville regarding the money distribution issues in the Big 12, "When that happens, you're going to have teams looking for better avenues to leave and reasons to leave. And so we have a 10-team league now, but I just don't know how long that's going to last, to be honest with you."
Coach Tuberville apparently has a good deal of appreciation and insight into why teams like Missouri would like a more stable situation unlike the disparity found in the Big 12 with Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M receiving distinctly more TV revenues than the remainder of their conference members.
Adding to the instability of the Big 12 structure is the knowledge that the money promised to the 10-team Big 12 is not, to date, inked in a contract. Commissioner Beebe's figures are future projections and the league is hanging by that thread of optimism apparently offered by ESPN and Fox Sports. Notably, the contracts for ESPN and Fox still have five years and two years to go, respectively, before renegotiation is even possible.
Makes many of us wonder what will happen to the Big 12 in that two-to-five year interim.
The real question here is whether Tuberville's comments reflect animosities and resentments among the other schools in the Big 12 not named Texas, OU, and A&M that are powerful enough eventually to undo all the recent positive spin projected by the conference after surviving the Pac-10 bid for the Big 12 South.
Is the writing really on the wall for the 10-team Big 12?
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