By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com Publisher
BREAKING NEWS….BREAKING NEWS….BREAKING NEWS….
The Big Ten is about to expand. So is the PAC 10. So is Conference USA. Rumor has it that the Sun Belt is interested in Texas Tech and that Nebraska is contemplating becoming an Independent.
In other words, the Big 12 is doomed. So is every other conference in college football…other than the Big Ten of course. The college sports world, as we know it is over! Over I say…over!!!
For the past two weeks, all of this realignment talk has been suffocating to say the least.
Is it interesting? Yes.
Is all of this talk starting to get a bit ridiculous? Yes again.
Look, I love the Big 12. There are certain things about the conference that I’m not crazy about. Obviously, the crappy television package fits into that mold. But that’s another conversation for another day. But at the very surface level, it is wonderful. I love the rivalries. I love the divisions. I love the teams. I just am a Big 12 guy. Plain and simple.
That’s why I’m starting to get just a little bit worried and annoyed at the same time about what is going on. In case you haven’t been paying attention to all of the “rumors” that are circulating around the college football world, here is a brief recap.
– Rumors about Colorado leaving to join the PAC-10 seem to really be picking up steam.
– Missouri and Nebraska have both been rumored to be interested in the Big Ten.
– A bunch of other scenarios are currently being tossed around as well.
A few journalists who have covered the conference for a decade claim that a lot of this is all “talk.”
That mindset could ultimately end up being correct. I respectfully think that they’re dead wrong. When I read these daily reports on the latest discussions or rumors or what not, I keep wondering, why the talk? Why so much babble if nothing is going to happen? Something has to be going on somewhere…right?
Especially as far as the Big Ten and the PAC 10 go. They’ve both already spoken publicly about their expansion thoughts.
Sure, us Big 12 diehards call the Big 11 uninteresting. But they do happen make a whole lot of money with that network of theirs. And in the end, that’s what it is all about…Cold hard cash.
We all like to think that college athletics are about the pure joy of sport, but do you really believe that?
That’s what I thought.
The fact of the matter is this. Texas is the big dog in the Big 12. They don’t entirely run the show, but we all know that things are skewed to favor the Longhorns financially. They are one of the big reasons that revenue isn’t spread out equally throughout the conference. They are the preverbal straw that stirs the drink for the folks down in Dallas. Texas has things pretty good right now and it is hard for Iowa State fans of all people to feel bad for the Horns, in any scenario.
Back to that green stuff I mentioned earlier. According to ESPN, in 2008, the Big 12 reportedly made $78 million in television revenue. The Big Ten made $242 million. While still spreading the wealth, every single school in the Big Ten made approximately $22 million, compared to the Big 12’s average of $6.5 million. To really put things into perspective, the Big East made $13 million for football as an entire league. So essentially, a single Big Ten school (even the unsuccessful ones) made more money through television than an entire BCS conference. If that doesn’t open your eyes as to how powerful the Big Ten Network actually is, I don’t know what will.
Dollars talk. The Big Ten is a very tempting mistress for the Horns who are currently in a fairly happy marriage. Financially, the Big 12 is a six. The Big Ten is that scorching hot 10 that all of your friends gawk at. I don’t blame Texas or any other Big 12 school for that matter, for listening to the Big Ten.
And trust me, there is no loyalty when it comes to Texas and the Big 12. I didn’t know this until reading an online article yesterday, but Texas initially wanted to join the PAC 10, not the Big 12. Here’s that link.
If Texas would move on…then what?
If Texas moves on and that is one giant if, there could likely be a major domino effect that critically changes college athletics. Here is a hypothetical look at what we could see. Again, I cannot stress enough that this is strictly a theoretical look at one possible situation.
There is a theory floating around that the Big Ten wants to develop a so-called “super conference,” by the year 2015. If that happened, in my opinion, Texas would more than likely be involved. You don’t create a “super conference” by adding Rutgers and Missouri. You need a big papa. That is Texas, Notre Dame, etc.
Many believe that if Texas would jump ship that Texas A&M would follow.
Colorado’s also been rumored to be considering a move to the PAC 10, which makes sense for them both academically and geographically. So let’s throw the Buffs, Utah and BYU move onto the PAC 10. That’d be a league with 13 teams. That wouldn’t work. Would Nebraska then be in the PAC 10 conversation? I’ve heard crazier things. Maybe Boise? It’d then be the powerful PAC 14 that would rival the Big 14, if the current Big Ten went that route.
Of course, this is all imaginary, but what would then happen to the remaining Big 12 teams, especially Iowa State if some of these pieces started to fall into place?
What happens to Oklahoma? Would they jump to the SEC like many have pointed out?
Here are the only teams that I haven’t really seen mentioned as far as conference realignment goes: Iowa State, Kansas State, Kansas, Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State.
Let’s have some fun
When it is all said and done, I really don’t think that Nebraska is going anywhere. The same can be said about Oklahoma and Missouri. These are all charter members of the Big 8. So for this next hypothetical piece of this blog, the current members of the Big 12 look like this.
Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor.
In this single scenario, I’m going to say that the following teams are gone.
Colorado – to the PAC 10 (along with Utah, BYU and Boise State)
Texas – to the Big Ten
Texas A&M – to the Big Ten (they’d follow the Horns and the Big Ten would bring in a team from out East, like Pitt).
So that would leave three spots for the Big 12 to fill. My off-the-cuff picks of current mid-majors would then be Memphis, TCU and Houston. Utah would be great but I believe there is more of a chance for them to end up out west.
While the Cyclones could potentially lose a little bit of revenue in this scenario, I can’t imagine too many Iowa State fans complaining about not having to play Texas and Texas A&M consistently. I think that if we get to the point where realignment talk is actually legit, in a strictly competitive nature, this could entire situation could benefit Iowa State. So let’s say that things play out like I’ve written above. Here’s how I think that the divisions would play out.
Big 12 North
Big 12 South
Look at those divisions again and tell me which one would be stronger consistently in football? It’d be a much more even conference.
I’ve written about the money. Now it is time to get back to sports. If any of these moves were to happen, what happens to the rivalries that college football was built on? If Colorado joined the PAC 10, would they still play Nebraska on the Friday after Thanksgiving?
Would the Red River Shootout still exist if Texas joined the Big Ten? What about the Horns vs. A&M if the Aggies don’t join the new league?
That’d be a pretty challenging schedule for the Horns if their non-conference consisted of games with Oklahoma and A&M. There’s yet another interesting challenge when it comes to realigning the sport as we know it.
What the Big 12 SHOULD do…
Growing up, my father always told me “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”
Right now, the Big 12 needs to follow that advice. Instead of waiting for things to happen, the Big 12 needs to jump into the mix. The Big 12 needs to start grabbing headlines back from these other conferences. The Big 12 needs to talk about expansion. Why not go east and try to pick up a Memphis? How would that look for a basketball league?
Arkansas is a school that has been tossed around quite a bit? Why not make strong run to poach them from the SEC?
Instead of being the prey, the Big 12 needs to be the predator.
When somebody hit on your high school sweetheart, did you sit around and watch her leave or did you fight for her?
Even if the Big 12 can’t stand up to the Big Ten financially, they need to at the very least show some pride.
In any life scenario, the weak get left behind. It’s time to hit the gym Big 12.