Strong Non-Conference Scheduling Leads Oklahoma Past Texas Again
Despite making the 2009 BCS national championship game, Texas again came in behind the Sooners in Big 12 revenue.
In 2008, the Sooners led the Longhorns as well, but it made much more sense then. Texas' big games were early with OU and Texas Tech, and it was not until after the game that Texas tried to erase from history, a 39-33 loss to Texas Tech, that the nation get truly interested in the 2008 Big 12 South soap opera that lead to web sites, on-air pleas, ESPN flip-flopping weekly, facebook campaigns, planes with banners, and asterisks.
While the Longhorns wrapped up their season with conference lightweights and a lackluster rivalry game with a well-below par Texas A&M Aggies team, OU was getting national air time weekly as the country watched to see if the Big 12 tie-breaker would take place.
OU had the benefit of two extremely well-watched games in November, Tech and Oklahoma State. OU and Texas both, as well as much of the country, had their eyes fixed on Oklahoma's last four games of the season, because if OU lost even one of those games, Texas Tech would go on to win the Big 12 South in 2008 because OU gave them their only conference loss.
So, in 2008, the Oklahoma Sooners got not only the benefit of the late scheduling but also were anointed by the BCS ranking to represent the Big 12 South in the conference championship game, propelling them to the national championship game.
Mix that with Blake Griffin carrying OU far into the highly profitable NCAA basketball tournament, and it makes a ton of sense that OU led the conference in revenue in 2008.
2009, however, makes almost no sense. The Sooners struggled right out of the gate leading to an extremely disappointing 8-5 finish and a trip to the Sun bowl with a low payout.
Texas meanwhile was undefeated and marched all the way to the conference and BCS national championship games, plus Texas made the NCAA basketball tournament, and despite a premature exit made it all the way to No. 1 in the polls during the regular season.
So why did OU make more money for the conference in 2009 and in turn receive more money back? Non-conference scheduling.
Football is king in conference revenue as we saw when the Kansas Jayhawks nearly got left out in the cold during the realignment debacle. Getting on TV is the key. If you can get on one of the big-name networks, either regionally or nationally, you get a big boost in dollars earned.
While Texas was playing against teams like Wyoming, ULM, and UCF, OU was getting nationally televised for playing teams like BYU and Miami. Of course, the spread is minuscule for these schools, $400,000. Both schools make that in the first 15 minutes of opening up ticket sales to the public.
In 2009, Texas also became the envy of the nation when strong interest and donors led them to the highest profit margin ever for a university athletic department.
However, if the Longhorns want to claim to be the biggest moneymaker for the conference, it all starts with stronger non-conference scheduling.
The Longhorns are making a step towards stronger non-cons this year with adding UCLA to the schedule which will definitely be a regional game with the chance to be national if they both make it to the game undefeated.
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