Water cooler talk
Money talks as Texas doesn't walk from Big 12
Conference carousel slowing down now that Texas stays put
As athletic conferences continue to shuffle about, one thing that is going to stay the same is the Big 10 Conference.
Er, the Big 12 with ten teams in it. And, the Big Ten with 12 teams in it. Scratch your head over that.
Texas issued a statement Tuesday that the school was going to stay part of the Big 12 as they negotiate a new contract to get, you got it, more money.
According to a report on Orangebloods.com – a site dedicated to Longhorn sports –Texas will make between $20 - $25 million from a new deal with the Big 12 Network. The Longhorns will earn anywhere between $3 - $5 million with their own University of Texas network.
Now that Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10) bolted for new conferences, the other nine schools remaining in the Big 12 stand to make between $14 and $17 million each.
"My plan is about what's best for the citizens in this part of the country and for the student-athletes and not having this section of the country with all its major institutions connected to conferences that aren't even here. We shouldn't be a fly-over zone," Big 12 commissioner Don Beebe told Orangebloods.com on Sunday.
Well, Mr. Beebe, your conference will stay together, kind of, and you will continue to have powerhouses like Texas and Oklahoma and . . .
The Big 12 will lose on the epic battles of Nebraska vs. Texas, Oklahoma vs. Nebraska, Colorado vs. Nebraska and other matchups that draw national attention.
Who can forget the finish to the Big 12 championship game with Texas and Nebraska? The last-second field goal that vaulted the Longhorns into the national championship game?
The new showdowns will be Missouri vs. Kansas, Kansas vs. Texas and any other number of combinations with the remaining 10 teams. It really doesn't sound exciting.
Currently the ESPN family (ABC, ESPN2) and Fox have large contracts with the Big 12. Texas has managed to wiggle its way in to make even more money, and the three schools that were going to follow - Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M - decided to stay put.
With those teams staying, the Pac-10 will be looking for a team to fill that 12th slot. On the radar is Utah. However, an invite hasn't been sent.
"Obviously, the college athletics landscape is undergoing massive changes, and it has our full attention," Utah's Athletic Director Chris Hill said, reported the Deseret News. "As we have said before, we will not respond to the rumors circulating."
Decision hangs on money
The Longhorns will get income from their own television station - in addition to revenue from the Big 12 channel - and keep all the profits. You read that right . . . all. This is a station that will broadcast Texas sports 24/7, 365 days a year.
The Pac-10 has been ignored by Eastern media because games start so late, which reduces the potential TV audience size.
But Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott feels confident that his conference will succeed.
"University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay together," Scott told the Associated Press. "We are excited about the future of the Pac-10 Conference and we will continue to evaluate future expansion opportunities."
The Pac-10 was looking to become a power conference, perhaps a rival to the Southeastern Conference in terms of strength and quality of teams.
In a super Pac-16, with Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Texas, USC, Cal, Washington and up-and-coming programs like Oregon State, you wouldn't see an unknown reach a bowl game.
But that super conference doesn't seem to be developing.
With Colorado joining, the conference will end up looking like the Big Ten (when they had 11 teams). Or very much like the Pac-10, before the NCAA allowed the expansion to 13 games, with teams not playing every team each season.
"This is the dawning of a new day for the Pac-10," Commissioner Scott said when he announced Colorado's intent to join the conference.
If the Pac-10 can recruit one more school, they can have a championship game.
But can any of the Pac-10 teams really get excited about playing Colorado?
Hardly a powerhouse, the Buffaloes have nearly dropped off the map and haven’t won a bowl game since the 2004 Ev1.net Houston Bowl, when they defeated University of Texas-El Paso 33-28.
Since Dan Hawkins took over as coach for the Buffaloes in 2006, he has compiled an 18-42 record. In 2009, the Buffs were 3-9 (2-6 in the Big 12).
That conference mark in 2009 in the Pac-10 would have equated to a 10th place finish, tucked in between UCLA (3-6) and Arizona State (2-6).
There is no way around it, television is what is driving football programs across the nation. That will continue as more and more money is doled out as teams play in the Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, the national championship game, etc.
Today, most television games feature teams from top conferences or teams that keep winning.
We all know where that goes.