Texas Will Hang Separately

Submitted by Brian on June 14th, 2010 at 5:31 PM


I put up a Sporting Blog post on the latest in conference reconfiguration that covers the main news of the day, which is that the awkward moment in nomenclature we're experiencing where the Big 12 has ten teams and the Big Ten has twelve is a surprisingly stable college football isotope.

Whether its half-life is two days, two years, or two decades we don't know yet, but reports that the Big 12 lives have spread beyond Chip Brown, who is by this point basically the earthly avatar of DeLoss Dodds, to Joe Schad and Pete Thamel, and have reached the point the Nebraska rumors did last week where the sheer quantity of independent confirmation outweighs everyone's natural skepticism towards anything Anonymous Athletic Director would like to leak. The Big… er… Twelve lives.

Why? Because if they're going to rename it they might as well dub it The Texas Conference. The major sticking point with Texas's move to the Big Ten was not distance or tradition or even money but the Longhorn's refusal to share and share alike, which is fine as far as it goes. Anyone who approaches college football from an angle other than realpolitik is willfully naive. Expecting Texas to sign off on a change where they go from the king of everything to just another shiny happy Big Ten (or Pac-10) school was extremely wishful thinking in retrospect.

This is despite a ton of huge advantages moving would bring. For one, I don't believe Brown for a second when he claims Texas "stands to make between $20 mil and $25 mil per yr under a proposed new TV pkg presented by Dan Beebe" before we even get to the coming Longhorn Network. Allow myself to quote myself:

Big Ten teams are currently raking in 15 million per year with a fully-functional network spread across eight states with a ton of people. The Big 12  Texas's entire conference distribution was 10 million in 2007 and as of May 31st conference distributions were ranging between "7 and 12 million" according to the KC Star; Big Ten teams each brought in 20 million. The Big 12's current television contract with ABC goes to the 2015 season and the conference has just lost its third most attractive television draw (Nebraska) and third biggest media market (Denver). The average value of the Big Twelve's TV inventory has gone down considerably this summer.

Texas would make more money moving to the Big Ten. They'd get to join the CIC. They'd have a more competitive environment than one game against Oklahoma every year. Iowa State would no longer be on the schedule. In all absolute ways, moving makes sense. Relatively? Not so much. Now that the Big 10 door is swinging shut—Missouri's scrabbling at the lock but can't get in—and the Pac-10 seems set on adding Utah and calling it a day, the Big 12 leftovers desperately need Texas and will sign up for any lopsided revenue sharing plan they have to as long as they don't have to consider whether they should join the Mountain West or Conference USA. If Texas won't enter as an equal partner, the Big Ten won't take them, and that's as it should be.

But no one should mistake the reason the Big 12 has shed two of its best schools: it's because of Texas. If the Big 12 does end up imploding, it will be because of Texas. Realpolitik has its costs.

The Big Ten's Next Move

This guy on the message board has a bunch of scuttlebutt about Texas that reflects the above and suggests where the Big Ten will look next: the ACC. Take it for what it's worth—not much given how fast these things change—but I've gotten a couple notes that suggest the same thing. The current plan appears to be wait to see what happens with Notre Dame and the rumored get-in-or-get-out ultimatum from the Big East and then possibly look to move to 14. 16 is not regarded as a viable setup without a compelling reason.

One man's guess as to the future direction of the conference, listed from most probable to least:

  1. The Big Ten sticks at 12 teams.
  2. ND gets the boot from the Big East, sucks it up, and joins the Big Ten sometime around when their NBC contract expires. The league would then look for a 14th team (Maryland, BC, GT, Rutgers, Syracuse the most commonly mentioned targets) at that point.
  3. ND stays in the Big East as they are now and the Big Ten picks off a couple of the above-mentioned targets to go to 14.
  4. Some crazy thing happens and the league goes to 16.

If I had to guess, the Big Ten will stand pat until such time as Notre Dame gets the boot from the Big East, which may or may not ever actually happen.



June 14th, 2010 at 11:40 PM ^

I would bet that Swarbrick is banking on Brian Kelly doing at ND what he's done at his prior three coaching stops, which means he'll have the Domers back in the national conversation pretty quickly. At that point Swarbrick anticipates some network will throw ridiculous dollars at them for a new TV contract that they won't have to share with anybody. In other words, if Kelly succeeds, there's no reason to join the Big Ten. If Kelly flops, all bets are off. Even if the ACC or SEC raid the Big East for its choicest football schools, it won't really matter to ND since their competition there is in basketball.


June 14th, 2010 at 11:53 PM ^

suppose the SEC, Pac 10, Big Ten, and the Dust Bowl conferences get together with the Bowl Commissioners and say "eff this, we're putting our champions into a play off and handing out checks to each other at the end. Happy holidays, bitches." ND et al would cry foul but, so what? What's the NCAA going to do, they don't crown a champ anyway. Is congress going to get involved? On what basis?


June 15th, 2010 at 8:26 AM ^

I'm not sure how long Notre Dame's special relationship will make sense to NBC, even with success on the field. I don't know how close the Comcast deal with General Electric to buy a controlling stake in NBC Universal is to becoming reality, but if it does, it could change the landscape considerably. Suddenly Jack Welch's legacy at GE isn't the deciding factor in renewing the contract with ND -- if NBC is losing money on it, I don't think Comcast will hesitate to pull the plug. I mean, CBS has the SEC, and ABC/ESPN has a piece of everything else. They're not going to throw money at ND for seven or eight games they don't need -- and ND doesn't play Michigan and USC every week (this year's NBC schedule includes thrillers against Western Michigan, Tulsa, and Army). So that leaves NBC and Fox. I really don't see Fox going there. So who is NBC bidding against?


June 14th, 2010 at 6:37 PM ^

But let's put things into perspective here:

                                         ISU         UNL        Mizzou                MSU

Academics (USNWR):   88          96             102                     71

Directors Cup (current): 22            6                42                    20

2009:                                  58           31              36                   27

2008:                                  58          31                  38                  29

2007:                                 73           27               53                      34

Average:                          52.75        23.75        42.25              27.5



1.  Can we lay off of MSU?  Pretty much any school that we bring in save Texas, ND (aka the big dogs) will not be better academically than MSU.  It is a good quality school let's stop with the stupidity of "HAHA THEY SUCK"

2.  UNL is a pretty good pickup although their academics are not ideal (to say the least just looking at this one criteria). 

3.  A lot of people bag on ISU.  Now I would never want ISU to join the Big Ten(12?) simply because it doesn't increase the geographic footprint as all of Iowa already has the BTN.  But to say that ISU is a terrible school and terrible at athletics is a downright lie.  Are they good at football?  No, generally not so much.  Are they getting better?  They have. 

Obviously UNL is a much better pickup than ISU but I would much rather have ISU than:

Baylor, TT, Rutgers (they will not add it in every home in NYC), Missouri (although StL would be nice), OSU, KSU, and (dare I say it) Kansas. 

***Caveat*** Yes I know that much of this is driven by football, geographic footprint, alumni base, and academics so obviously ISU having such terrible football for a long-time is a hindrance but man do they get beat up a lot for no good reason.



June 15th, 2010 at 1:37 AM ^

it's about the ones who already did. Inside the footprint = higher cost for the cable/satellite companies per subscriber = more money for us.

Iowa State is inside the footprint already. No increase in revenue from that perspective.

And they really haven't been that good at athletics recently. Their finishes from 2007-2009 would put them dead last in the Big, uh, 13, even behind Iowa ... even with the fine season they're having now, they'd still be in the bottom of the conference over that period of time, and if this is an exception rather than a sign of things to come, they really aren't adding a lot across the board in athletics.

The academics are nice, but obviously that's simply a starting point: schools that might make much more geographic sense but don't have the rep aren't even in the picture.

I think Iowa might (or might not) like to have Iowa State, but aside from that, I just don't see them bringing too much to the table.


June 14th, 2010 at 6:36 PM ^

This Big East ultimatum about ND is the first I've heard of it. Can someone please provide greater evidence of this rumor?

Notre Dame and the rumored get-in-or-get-out ultimatum from the Big East


June 14th, 2010 at 6:52 PM ^

My $0.02:  We stay at 12 unless ND joins, in which case we add one more team, the best available at the time, to go to 14.  But for a huge shake-up, I don't see a good reason to go to 16.  And I don't even want 13 unless one of them is ND.

Do I think ND will come?  I'm not as convinced that there will be a Big East ultimatum, but I think it will come down to (a) how well the BTN is doing at printing money, and (b) what NBC decides to do when ND wants to renew their contract.  If ND goes back to making BCS bowls and NBC wants to keep throwing dollars at them, they'll stay independent.  If NBC doesn't think they're the same investment they were 15 years ago (and they're not right now) then it might behoove them to suck it up and feed from the Big Ten money tree.

Blue Durham

June 14th, 2010 at 8:00 PM ^

We just got a decent Midwestern school that fits in all ways with the conference (assuming the graduate/research stuff said about Nebraska is true; if not, they very well may grow with the benefits of being in the conference).

We now have the championship game, and the money derived from it.

Any additional schools to the conference must be compelling.  Marginal (Rutgers, and yes, Syracuse or Missouri) must come with another that makes it right (pretty much Notre Dame, Texas just has too many issues).  I really think the Big Ten is set for now regardless of what the other conferences do.

And I do think that the Big 12 will try to replace the two schools they lost (Utah in play for both Pac Ten and Big 12?) in order to re-gain their championship game.  The problem is that any team will have to accept 2nd class status to Texas.  And that will probably lead to 2nd class invites (TCU and ?).


June 14th, 2010 at 7:21 PM ^

Where Herbstreit was playing and spoke (before Brian's post) - pretty much confirmed that ABC/ESPN allegedly added to the pot of a TV deal b/c it wanted to keep the Big 12 conference (I guess I interpreted this as not wanting Texas and Oklahoma in the Pac 10 tv in the wee late hours).   Said most Big 12 coaches (likely Mack) are ok with just 10 teams and no conference game to cost them a BCS bid ...can you say Kansas State once upon a time, etc.. 

Herbie still thinks ND will ultimately be in play in the Big 10.  Also said that if Texas et al stay, the the Pac 10 really cannot be that happy...and confirmed likely wanting to raid Utah to go to 12.  Herbie also likes the Nebraska addition...And for it is worth, he did not directly bash Michigan, but did not mention Michigan as a comparable fan base for Nebraska like osu, Penn State and Wisky...


June 14th, 2010 at 9:38 PM ^

I live in Denver and earlier in the year before the expansion talk got crazy, the rumor was the Pac-10 was looking to add Colorado and Utah.  Assuming they offer Utah and Utah accepts, their original plan will have unfolded.  However, after getting teased by the possibility of the Pac-16 with Texas and OU, I'd have to think that going to 12 teams with the additions of Colorado and Utah might leave a sour taste in their mouth.


June 14th, 2010 at 8:02 PM ^

Even with the addition of Nebraska the Big Ten already has gained a lot of credibility that has been lacking recently. Adding Texas really was very unrealistic at this point, and not only for transportaition matters, there really are too many butting heads to get real work done at this point.  Enjoy the 'Texas, Where Everything's Bigger Conference' ... everything, that is, except the dwindling conference memberships.

However, to bring up the topic of divisional splits in the twelve-team Big 10 needs to be a north/south split, not east/west.  If it were east/west we'd have a division packed with the likes of OSU, UM, PSU (and a mediocre MSU) among others, while the other split would have Nebraska headlining, but only teams like Iowa, Wiso, Minnesota and Northwestern to take them on.


June 14th, 2010 at 8:09 PM ^

Call me a whack job if you want, but Texas is really acting like an independent in these deliberations. Consider:

- They are calling the shots with the TV networks, other programs, etc.

- They are keeping a disproportionate share of revenues.

- They are basically acting like prima donnas, (back to that "prettiest cheerleader" analogy).

They also get to reap the benefits of conference affiliation, (guaranteed BCS spot, decent competition on the field, no scheduling challenges). They can be forgiven - I suppose - for not wanting to buy the cow since they're getting their milk for free.

Of course, this is all about money more than prestige, (c'mon - its Texas - anytime anyone in Texas says something ain't about the money, you can be sure its about the money). Thus, they're willing to forego CIC membership and "hang" with the wretched masses of KU, Missouri, OU and OSU (the other one - no - the "other" other one). They may not make as much money as they would in the B10, but they get to be the (by far) biggest fish in a very small pond.


June 14th, 2010 at 8:32 PM ^

Great breakdown by Brian.  

At this point, I'm not even sure that ND makes sense unless they are willing to enter the Big 10/12 as an equal, which I have my doubts.  I think people are still deluded by the ND name - they are not the same football team they were 20+ years ago, and no amount of coaching and saber rattling from the alums is going to change that.  If you add them in 5 years, they will probably be your typical "good but not great" squad.  They'll win 8-9 games some years, but they'll never be an elite squad like they were under Holtz.  Heck, the last time they finished in the top-10 nationally was in 1993.  So adding them wouldn't introduce a dominant program, but a team that is somewhere between Wisconsin and (the new) Nebraska in terms of recent success.  Not bad, but not a MNC candidate year in-year out.  

But with Nebraska joining, the conference is stronger athletically than it was before, and academically the hit is not as massive as people think (I expect Nebraska to rise in the rankings as the research dollars/IIAs kick in).  Staying with 12 makes the most sense, and unless ND really turns it around, I'd rather they stay in the BE.


June 14th, 2010 at 8:55 PM ^

Burnt Orange Nation was all over this a few months ago while we were all busy adoring Frank The Tank. He doesn't get right to the point in the post, but in the comments Peter Bean tells us what we were all overlooking (probably because we were too busy wanting Texas in the Big Ten):

The problem with Texas jumping to the Big 10 is that Texas’ goal can’t be reduced to finding a home in which it neatly fits. You only concede your advantages when it’s more profitable for you to do so, and here, Texas’ incentive is to insulate itself from egalitarian relationships. The status quo is for Texas to remain the undisputed king of an extremely (almost unfairly) rich bloc of territory. And it remains in our interest to stay out of — and thereby forego the benefits of — a stronger, superior confederation, when doing so means weakening that base position in the home territory.

So the starting point isn’t “the Big XII as it currently exists” but “Texas exceptional position as it currently exists.” That’s the context to evaluate whether it makes sense for Texas to become a smaller, more equal part of a bigger, more dynamic family.

Yeah, I know, the Texas blog had it right all along, what a surprise. And now they are still big fish in an even smaller pond, even which makes them seem even bigger now.


June 14th, 2010 at 8:44 PM ^

Texas is for certain staying in the Big 12(10).

Onto plan B for the Pac10 and the Big 10(12) is looking sweet with the Nebraska pick-up.

I think Delany is smiling with how this is turning out.


June 14th, 2010 at 9:28 PM ^

Bill Powers had a chance to better the entire university in research and academics, but some extra cash is thrown on the table for their athletic program and they pounce on it.

Yet somehow UT portrays Tom Osborne and Harvey Perlman as the greedy ones...



June 14th, 2010 at 9:05 PM ^

The Big Ten is unquestionable a winner from all of this.  The Big "12" now will not be able to host their lucurative championship game (unless they expand to 12 teams) and the Pac 10 will only have 12 as well but be years behind in the introduction of their network.  The SEC stays strong, the ACC/Big East remain weak. 

The only remaining domino is ND's fledging independence.  NBC will probably want out if they continue to suck, at which point they might have no choice but the join the Big Ten.  In any event, the Big East is really precarious right now with a total of ZERO good football teams and not even teams that have potential to be good.  A possible bifrucation (splitting the conference with the basketball only schools leaving), is something I think is still very possible.  We will have to wait and see, but there's little margain for error now.  For now, the Big Ten should stay patient.  We can do our part by beating ND every year. 


June 14th, 2010 at 9:47 PM ^

... Papa Tex and the Little Pardners.

So Texas says to the rest of the artist formerly known as the Big 12:

To which U of M (and maybe MSU) replies:


I am actually proud of the Big Ten: academics, equality, demographics, and OUR OWN NETWORK!!!


June 14th, 2010 at 10:25 PM ^

Completely agree with the statement that this is the Texas Conference. Everything that happened revolved around Texas, now they can start making their own network I guess.


June 14th, 2010 at 10:55 PM ^

The Big Ten's quasi-communist equal revenue sharing was never going to fly with those folks, and anybody who thought they'd give up their status as the biggest fish in their pond were fooling themselves. If that includes Delaney, so be it.

I'm fine with 12; if we can snag ND, then I vote for Missouri for the 14th. They add KC and St. Louis markets along with the state as a whole, they are very competitive in football without being a monster, they've had decent recent success in basketball, and their baseball program is pretty good. I know they're down the list in academic reputation, but Mizzou is an AAU member in good standing. Plus my grandfather taught there, my parents and sister went there, and I have great memories of many hot summer hours in Columbia at the grandparent's place watching the Kansas City Athletics with my grandma, listening to her rake Charlie O. Finley over the coals.


June 14th, 2010 at 11:40 PM ^

They've been suspicious bystanders in all of this to me. I wonder if Slive is cool not being the shaker in all of this. The top of the Big Ten is every bit as good as the top of the SEC now, I'll put Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska up against Florida, Alabama, LSU, and ... Georgia (?).

I think the Big Ten is actually much stronger in the second tier with Wisconsin, Iowa, and MSU going up against Auburn, Ole Miss, and Tennessee I suppose.

I wouldn't be surprised if the SEC were the ones to do the dirty work of beginning another chain reaction by poaching Miami and FSU from the ACC thereby leading the ACC to nab Pitt and WVU.

If the above scenario plays out, that's when ND gets fidgety. Now that the ACC is in motion, thanks to Slive, Delany looks at Boston College (ND ally and Boston/NE), or Maryland, maybe even UVa.

Overall, I think this has played out fairly well without too much non-sense going on. Good play by Delany.


June 15th, 2010 at 9:36 AM ^

Remember, the SEC just signed their new TV contract with ABC/ESPN and don't have their own network.  So there is no real financial incentive to expand, in fact, expansion would seem to dilute the per school payout, which like the Big 10 is distributed evenly.

That's why I don't understand the Texas A&M move to the SEC story, there's lots of benefits to T&M, but where's the payout for the SEC?  I think it's just A&M trying to leverage Texas for a few bucks.  I guess we'll find out in a day or two.


June 15th, 2010 at 12:58 AM ^

Bottom line, without any SEC movement towards the ACC or A&M, the Big 10 will stay at 12. The Big 10 is now only interested in ND. ND will only come if the ACC is shaken up. Delaney needs to talk to Slive if he wants ND. Personally, I'm happy with 12, but thrilled with 14 or 16 if ND is in the mix. Hit up my new blog. Hail to the Blog. Go Blue




June 15th, 2010 at 1:42 AM ^

I like a balance 12 team conference with two 6 team divisions.  I don't think we will be adding the horns to this conference. If one day ND decides they want to join the B10, I won't mind expanding to 14. I'm not really sure who I would want for the 14th team. MD really does not excite me, may be Pitt, so that PSU can have a big instate rival?  But for now I'm happy to have the Huskers and a balanced conference with a b10 championship game at the end of the season.

The Mick

June 15th, 2010 at 3:46 AM ^

I'm happy the way the Big Ten it is now, no need to further expand unless ND decides/needs to join and that better be without any special treatment.

I must admit that I kind of like the idea of 16 team superconferences however, because that would surely lead to a playoff system of some kind. No need to have a perfect record anymore to get a chance to play for the national title. Michigan could start  scheduling real opponents for the OOC-games and not just bay seals and cupcakes to posh their record.

It wouldn't matter how you fare at OOC-games, because even with a 0-4 OOC-record you can still win your Big Ten division, win the Big Ten championship game and be one of four teams left to play for the national title (even with an 8-4 or 7-5 record).


June 15th, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

The Mick;


Michigan schedules cupcakes b/c it’s quite difficult to get programs to waive the 1 for 1 home and home agreements between most universities.  Scheduling Delaware State allows Michigan to bring in another sellout crowd to the Big House as well as pay DSU more than they’d ever fathom making @ their place.  While I’m not a fan of playing inferior opponents, most top programs have to schedule  D-1AA and lesser D-1 teams to fill out their schedule year in and year out without giving up a home game in the future to keep the money flowing. 


Lastly I’m also a fan of stronger OOC games, but there’s a fine line to be walked when it comes to the regular season not mattering as much.  I love March Madness, but I can also say I don’t pay attention to the regular season b/c of it either.  Heaven forbid college football turn into the NBA with Shaq or better yet the Celtics sand bagging it to get ready to make their playoff run.  Would you still pay to see Michigan play on Saturday if the 3rdstringers were playing b/c RR sat out the 2-deep a week or 2 before the NCAA playoff in order to get healthy?     


June 15th, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

Michigan didn't schedule cupcakes like this until Bill Martin became AD.  PERIOD.

If one looks at the books... U-M can take the estimated $8M "hit" by scheduling better OOC matchups instead of App State or DSU.  

A couple of years ago, UGA and Auburn were rumored at looking at U-M for a home and home.  I have no idea if any of this was true but could you imagine the Dawgs or War Eagle in September?  That would be awesome... and the talk of college football for that weekend.

Instead, Barnacle Bill leveraged traveling as a flimsy excuse.  Yeah, one loses some money but I think there's a payoff in other ways by playing real opponents instead of going I-AA.  Dave Brandon knows the value of image and "brand" in addtion to the books so I'm hopeful.

If tOSU's AD can line up a big time opponent every September, we can too (and I'm not talking freaking Notre Dame).


June 15th, 2010 at 10:50 AM ^


-If the Big 10 is so concerned about academics, Pitt ranks higher than both Rutgers and Syracuse according to US News & World Report 2010 rankings (and FWIW, Pitt ranks higher than five current Big 10 schools)

-Pittsburgh is within the extremities of the Big 10, easing travel costs for teams

-Adds another huge rivalry game for the conference with Pitt-Penn State; a lot of bad blood exists between the programs due to Paterno's refusal to schedule the game, while he schedules the likes of Coastal Carolina, Eastern Illinois, Temple, Buffalo and Florida International instead.  For all of you college football fans out there, Pitt-Penn State was one of the nation's premier football rivalries before Paterno ended it.

-Basketball program is consistently in the top 15, which is better than Rutgers can say.  Syracuse can argue over this, but then the topic of the complete ineptitude of their football program comes into play.  Pitt is the most complete package of the three schools.

-Pitt plays football at Heinz Field, a pro facility in a major sports city that seats more than Rutgers Stadium and the outdated Carrier Dome; Pitt also plays basketball at the Peterson Events Center, another new, nice facility that outshines the RAC and the cavernous, strange "basketball" Carrier Dome.  People argue that Pitt can't fill the stadium (outside of WVU/Cinci and major OOC games), but when you are playing the likes of Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan, there will be no trouble in filling the stadium.  Pitt fans are tired of non-traditional Big East foes and would flood Heinz Field to see these teams play in Pittsburgh.  Also, Pittsburgh is an easier place for visiting Big 10 fans to travel to as opposed to Syracuse or Piscataway.

Rutgers is an afterthought in the New York area, and Syracuse is just too inconvenient/out of the way.  If the Big 10 decides to expand again, Pitt makes a great addition IMHO.


June 15th, 2010 at 10:52 AM ^

Texas stays to keep the conference intact but is there any reason why Beebe should remain?  He shot himself and the B12 in the foot.  If he didn't demand an ultimatium from all the members, they probably would not have fled.  If they stayed just 1 more year, the TV contract would be up for renegotiation, more money for all, and the Big East would have been the conference that lost some members.  The B12 would have remained intact, albeit with disgruntled members. 


June 15th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

I think Beebe just got done blowing Bevo... Texas is still pressing ahead with the Longhorn network and the new Big 1 "0" 2 still isn't sharing revenue euqally.  Isn't this what ticked  everyone off in the first place (rhetorical question)!  

They basically remodeled their existing conference with 2 less teams and more money now for Texas.

Now there are rumors floating around that the remaining Big 1 "0" 2 members are going to take a vote to kick Mizzou out of the conference.  Ooops.