No ‘i’ In Team – How Many In Conference?

By BRIEN STRAW, SportsRadio 610

Pick the school and the excuse is the same: “We’re leaving for the economic stability of our program.”

While that may be accurate, what are the odds we hear one of these outgoing athletic directors or university presidents admit that they caused their current conferences “economic instability?”

Big East founding member Syracuse, along with 28 year member Pittsburgh leave for the ACC Conference claiming economic uncertainty in the Big East. Yes the Big East teeters – because YOU left!  What’s the point? From a football perspective the Big East has the all important BCS automatic qualifying bid, so what’s gained by joining the ACC?  Perhaps the allure of a conference title game in a three-quarters empty Bank of America stadium in Charlotte is just too much to pass up. (FYI: there’s no benefit to leaving the Big East for the ACC from a basketball perspective – which is the only other revenue generating sport, and besides, all this realignment is because of football anyway.)

Texas A&M is firm in its stand to leave the Big 12, seeing greener pastures in the SEC. Again the Aggies are claiming the “stability” of the SEC is the reason. Of course the SEC is more stable than the Big 12, do you want to know why?  It’s because YOU are leaving A&M!

Aggie fans like to point to Colorado and Nebraska’s exit last season to deflect from the fact that they are placing the final nails in the rebuilding project that makes the Big 12 more like Conference USA.  Let’s remember the timeline of history.  It was Texas, A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State that were originally flirting with the Pac 10.  Following that affair – which would have succeeded had A&M not decided to escape the Longhorn shadow by perusing the SEC, that the Buffalos and Cornhuskers sought shelter.

It would seem no matter which Big 12 school you root for outside of the Longhorns, you can blame Texas as the root of the need for realignment. As my junior high basketball coach always said, “remember when you are pointing a finger at someone else, you are pointing three back at you.”  That Texas has been able to dictate terms in the Big 12 is your fault conference member, not the Horns.

If there is a common theme about the four “super conferences” that will be left standing when all the dust clears (see: ACC, SEC, Big 12 and Pac 12), it is that all require an equal revenue split. Not only Texas, but Texas A&M and Oklahoma have benefited from an unequal split in the Big 12.

In the Big 12 it was always okay for big brother to pick on little brother, not only on the field of play but at the bank as well.  It only became a untenable problem when Texas proved to be a “bigger” brother than the other conference powers. Picking on Kansas State or Iowa State or Baylor was never an issue until ESPN tossed the Longhorn Network to Texas, then suddenly the conference became “economically unviable.”

In the SEC, a conference the Aggies cannot wait to join, there is equal distribution of media revenues.  Sure Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU are worth more to the TV deals with CBS and ESPN than Vandy, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Kentucky. So why is one conference stable while the other is not?

Equal revenue sharing.  And the timing is right for the Big 12 to be fixed, if you want to fix it A&M. The opportunity to require equal revenue sharing in the Big 12 (probably short of the Longhorn Network) is at hand.  While still a very attractive program, Texas is being exposed as good looking but a pain in the ass.  You know the old saying about the most attractive girl in school not having a date to the prom, that’s the Longhorns.  The story goes it’s because everyone was too shy to ask her out. That’s what her parents told her. The real reason is because she was a bi#%*, and not worth the hassle.

Conferences are running away from DeLoss Dodds and UT like it’s spoiled milk left out in the Texas heat.  The leverage is there to force out Longhorn shill Dan Beebe as commissioner and require equal revenue sharing.  The Big 12 could even add a Boise State and BYU to make the conference a more viable media interest.

If that’s good enough for Oklahoma, why is that not good enough for you A&M?

As the Aggies yearn for the SEC seeing dollar signs I wonder, long-term, where is that money coming from?  Why is Texas A&M so valuable to the SEC?  For example I give you the following SEC match-ups this weekend: Arkansas-Alabama, Georgia-Ole Miss, Florida-Kentucky, Vanderbilt-South Carolina, LSU-West Virginia, and even Mississippi State hosting Louisiana Tech will already be available to every television set in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. How will A&M’s inclusion change that?  Is having the Aggies in the SEC really worth an additional $30 to $50-million dollars to ESPN and CBS when ten of the current 12 conference members games’ are already available in Texas?

The Big 10 didn’t expand to generate big TV deals with ESPN/ABC.  The SEC didn’t expand to generate big TV deals with ESPN and CBS.  Adding Colorado and Utah didn’t get the Pac 12 a huge deal with FOX, college football’s growing popularity and Southern Cal did.

There may be no stopping the evolution of college football.  With four “super conferences” of 16 members, a simple Plus-One generates a playoff without having to alter the bowl games university presidents and athletic directors cling to with a tighter grip than a Texan does his Colt 45. But that doesn’t mean throwing every conference through a meat-grinder is what’s best for college football.


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