Jul 14, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA; Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to the media during Big 12 media days at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Just when we thought realignment drama would fizzle out for a while after Oklahoma and Texas were officially accepted into the SEC last Friday, the state of Texas blew that idea into a bazillion pieces on Monday.
Of course, I’m talking about the Senate Select Committee on the Future of College Sports in Texas hearing started Monday afternoon at 1 p.m. As of this writing, the hearing is stretching into its seventh hour.
The first few hours of the hearing were relatively close to what I would’ve expected, which means administrators from TCU, Texas Tech and Baylor walking the committee through the economic ramifications of UT and OU leaving the league on their institutions and the cities where they’re located.
The discussion of economics continued once Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby stepped to the podium. He told the committee the Big 12 will lose roughly half of its media rights payout from Texas and Oklahoma’s exits, cutting the payment from around $28 million to $14 million.
Which, honestly, if that is really the case, it is considerably better than most people have previously portrayed the Big 12’s future prospects if the left-behind eight stick together.
Is it ideal? Obviously not. That would still be by far the smallest payout for any major conference, but it is twice what ESPN currently pays the American Athletic Conference and does show there’s some chance of a relative recovery in the event the league expands.
Speaking of expansion…
This is to be expected. The Oklahoma and Texas news broke less than two weeks ago. The league will not be able to pivot into expansion mode and start reaching out to schools at the snap of a finger, plus, as we’ve learned in the last week during the Big 12’s (for lack of a better word) feud with ESPN, reaching out to schools through official conference channels would be risky.
Speaking of that ESPN feud…
Here I was hoping the Big 12 was about to come together and publicly stick it to the entity that seems hell-bent on ruining college football as we know it. I mean, I get why the Big 12 would be willing to back off of its primary media partner, and maybe people at ESPN have privately told them they’ll change the way they’re doing business with the league, but I’m still disappointed that Bowlsby and the league seemingly won’t be in “if I’m going down, you’re going down with me,” mode.
I still think it would be naive to think ESPN didn’t have a pretty heavy hand in orchestrating this entire deal with Oklahoma, Texas and the SEC. At the very least, the league remains convinced the way the two institutions conducted this entire process is a violation of the league’s bylaws.
I’m going to leave the possible sanctions the league could level against Oklahoma and Texas alone for now because that just seems like a massive can of legal worms.
Bowlsby did tell the committee the league’s bylaws require schools to inform the commissioner of talks with another league within 12 hours of initial contact, which we pretty clearly know did not happen in this case.
There are varying reports as to how long this has been going on, but it is safe to assume it has been at the very least six months. Bowlsby found out about the discussions at the same time as the rest of us when The Houston Chronicle’s initial report dropped.
But, that brings us to Texas president Jay Hartzell’s time with the committee.
Well, that settles that. Wait, hold on…
Three freaking minutes between those tweets. That’s how long it took Hartzell to go from saying they didn’t violate any of the bylaws to more or less publicly admitting they did violate the bylaws.
I’m not a lawyer so I’m probably not the right person to analyze these things, but this blogger feels like Hartzell probably should not have said that if he didn’t want it to come up again once the lawyers find their way back into the negotiating room.
What does any of this really mean? I don’t know. Probably nothing. This entire thing felt more like an opportunity for state senators, specifically ones who went to Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU, to sound off to appease their constituents.
This writer commends them for pandering to their base because it gave us some epic dunks on the Longhorns in an official political forum.
I’m sure you could guess where each of those state senators went to college, but I’ll go ahead and say Kolkhorst attended TCU and Perry is a Texas Tech alum, plus lifelong resident of Lubbock.
I’m glad they got their day to posterize someone. It made this Monday a little more interesting than I ever expected it to be.