Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Cynic’s Guide to College Football: Big 12(10) Winners and Losers

Well, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the impending Armageddon of conference realignment, the bomb has finally dropped and we’re left with, well, pretty much what we already had. Nebraska moved to the Big 10. Colorado and (reportedly) Utah will be heading to the Pac-10. And Mountain West teams will soon be heading to the Smurf Turf of Boise State. But other than that, it all turned out to be much ado about nothing. But that doesn’t mean we can’t engage still in a little snap judgment. With that, here are (in no particular order) the Big 12(10) Winners and Losers in the expansion fiasco.

WINNERS

1. Texas. The big winners in all of this. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s hard not to respect the piece of Machiavelliangenius that Texas just pulled off. The Longhorns successfully managed to dupe the Pac-10, (most of) the rest of the Big 12 and the national sports media. And what did they get?
  • A potential new TV deal that will pay them even more.
  • Nine other schools now completely at the Longhorns’ mercy.
  • Making the five schools that didn't have a BCS conference invite sign over their share of the Nebraska and Colorado buyout money.
  • An even greater revenue disparity to their benefit.
  • Their own TV network.
  • A conference schedule that will, in all likelihood, put them just one game away from a shot at the national title every year.
In other words, everything they wanted from the beginning and then some. Rob Oller of the Columbus Dispatch put it best: “No one can say Horns never play anyone. They just played everyone.”

Forget the World Series of Poker. DeLoss Dodds is the real Texas Hold ‘Em Champion.

2. The Big 12 Teams Not Named Texas (Short-Term).
If Dan Beebe can pull off his
miracle TV deal he claims he can get, the TV package for all the schools will grow significantly. More importantly, the remaining Big 12 schools that didn’t have BCS conference invites are spared the indignity of having to beg the Mountain West or the MAC for membership.

3. The Big 10.
They add one of the most successful programs in NCAA history that brings in big TV numbers. They finally get a conference championship game for a big money payday. And, by not jumping the gun to super-conference status right now, they leave themselves some wiggle room for Notre Dame future expansion.

4. Nebraska.
Tom Osborne proved to be prophetic. Whether you agree with his opinion of them or not, it’s true that everything he lamented in the conference—the shifting of power to Texas, the unequal revenue distribution, the lack of a Big 12 network, etc.—not only will continue under the new Big 12, but appear to be getting even worse. For good or bad, the culture of the conference simply isn’t what it once was. Nebraska had become an
outsider in its own conference and the move to the Big Ten was a natural one. Yes, the extra money ($22-$25 million instead of the $10 million they made in the Big 12) and the chance to leave Texas behind are nice, but perhaps even more important the move gives the Cornhuskers the stability and egalitarian culture lacking in the Big 12.

“What can I say, I TRIED to warn them.”

5. Chip Brown, Orangebloods.com. Yes, it seems a little slimy when a site trolling for subscribers and serving as a mouthpiece for the biggest player in all this is the one breaking the stories. And, sure, those stories weren’t always accurate (he broke both the report that Texas was joining the Pac-10 and that Texas was staying with the Big 12). But over the last week, he’s had ESPN eating out of his hand and become a household name with football geeks waiting on pins and needles for his next Tweet.

What do Chip’s sources say today?

6. Pot dealers. When Colorado and California get together for their first Pac-10 meeting, there may not be enough dope, tie dye or Phish cover bands to go around.

Tailgating in Boulder

7. Stewart Mandel, Sports Illustrated. The man predicted Nebraska’s move—three years ago.

8. The Red River Rivalry. With Nebraska out of the picture and no conference championship game, the annual Oklahoma/Texas shootout becomes a de facto conference title game and very likely a play-in game for a BCS title shot.

One of the biggest games in college football gets even bigger. Plus it has corn dogs.

9. T. Boone Pickens. Without having to compete with Phil Knight, Pickens can maintain his status as the biggest spender in the conference.

Lord Boone mingling with the commoners.

10. Arizona and Arizona State. Under the proposed Pac-10 expansion discussions, the Wildcats and Sun Devils would have been put in a western division with the six new schools from the Big 12. In other words, they would have to play Texas and Oklahoma every year. Now they can breathe a sigh of relief and still hold on to that pipe dream of making it back to the Rose Bowl
someday. Plus, Bob and Mike Stoops don't have to worry about those awkward family reunions.

LOSERS

1. The Big 12 Teams Not Named Texas (Long-Term). This whole process showed one thing. Texas is the king, and everybody else in the conference exists for the sole purpose of doing the Longhorns bidding. If there was any doubt about who the top program in college athletics is, it’s over now. While the smaller schools in the conference are breathing a sigh of relief right now, I wouldn’t get too comfortable. The only reason the Big 12 exists today is because, right now, it is in Texas’ best interest. But the Longhorns won’t commit to anything long term (another reason Nebraska wanted out—UT refused to commit to anything past 2016), so the conference may be right back in this same position a few years from now when the new TV deal runs out. Texas is looking out for Texas. Period. And if the revenue doesn’t come in like projected or they think they can cut a better deal somewhere else, the rest of the Big 12 will all be scrambling for new homes.



Help, help, I’m being repressed!

2. Missouri. The Tigers have had their bags packed for months, not even trying to conceal their love affair with the Big 10. So to get stranded at the altar in favor of Nebraska had to sting quite a bit. Plus, they’re now stuck with a new TV deal where the revenue disparity will be even bigger than before and they have to play both Texas and Oklahoma every year. While they have to hold out hope that the Big 10 may expand somewhere down the line, the uncertainty of their immediate future has to have Mizzou hating life.

“I want to go to the Big Ten THIS much.”

3. Colorado’s Short-Term Future. Colorado tried to get ahead of the curve by jumping to the Pac-10, expecting the Big 12 to dissolve behind them. Because it didn’t, the Buffs are now on the hook for approximately $9 million over the next two years in lost revenue they owe back to the Big 12 as punishment for leaving.

And you thought CU fans were upset when they couldn’t come up with the money to buy out Dan Hawkins.

4. Oklahoma’s Self-Respect. The Sooners’ marching band is called the Pride of Oklahoma. After this week’s developments, they may have to rethink that. For some inexplicable reason, OU Athletic Director Joe Castiglione kept finding ways to reiterate the fact that the Sooners would go wherever Texas went. While that move might (and I emphasize might) have been in OU’s best interest (at least in the short term), did it really help to paint the Sooners into a corner like that, take all other options off the table and basically admit that OU has become the Longhorns’ little sister?

C’mon, Joe. You guys are better than that.

5. Journalism. I, for one, will never trust any future article with the line “Sources close to the program say . . .” again. There was so much misinformation and outright deception going on that journalistic integrity was the first casualty in the Great Expansion Wars of 2010. And if someone wasn’t breaking incorrect stories, then someone else was running with that information and claiming it as their own.

I’m looking at you, Joe Schad.

6. Brett Favre. For the first time in years, the annual summer “will he or won’t he” retirement talk hasn’t been the biggest offseason story in football.

"Hello? Will somebody pay attention to me now?"

7. Big 12 Relevance. For some time, the Big 12 North division has largely been an afterthought. The winner of the Oklahoma/Texas game would go on, win the conference championship and then go on to the BCS. But there was always at least a little bit of intrigue, given the history of title game upsets (Texas in ’96, A&M in 98, Kansas State in ’03, etc.) and Nebraska’s recent resurgence. All that, however, goes out the window with the loss of
the conference title game and no real competition for the Longhorns and Sooners. Barring some huge upsets, 9 of the league’s 10 teams will effectively be irrelevant on the college football scene by mid-October.

8. Dan Beebe’s Math. I took calculus in high school, and then clepped out my college math requirements. So I haven’t studied math in . . . let’s see, minus 18, times the circumference, carry the one . . . a lot of years. But I still can’t figure out how Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe figures that subtracting one of your better TV draws (Nebraska), scrapping a conference championship game and losing the Denver media market somehow adds up to
almost doubling the conference’s TV contract.

9. The Pac-10. Here they thought they had Texas, the biggest fish in the college football sea, coming aboard. All they had to do was take their in-state rivals, Texas A&M and Texas Tech, with them. But then word got out that Baylor had friends in high places and that some Texas legislators were threatening to submarine the deal if Baylor wasn’t included in the package. So the Pac-10 tried to call their bluff, issuing a
pre-emptive invitation to Colorado. However, the plan backfired and, instead of getting Texas as the jewel in their conference crown, they’re stuck with an underachieving Colorado program that just got hit with NCAA scholarship reductions.

10. Jerry Jones. Jerry had just secured the Big 12 Championship game for his new Taj Mahal in Dallas through 2013. Now it appears that there won’t be a title game past 2010.

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1 comment:

Herry Johnson said...

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