Better Late Than Never
Bravo, Big 12, bravo.
You finally figured it out. Having 12 teams in a conference is a wise choice, especially if your name has a 12 in it. Even 14 teams would be a good idea.
Now here’s the bad news – you had the perfect 12 teams just six years ago and should have looked into expansion back then. Since, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M and Missouri have bolted for greener pastures and the Big 12 added TCU and West Virginia (TCU should have been in the conference when it was formed in 1996, but that’s another story).
So the conference finally figured out that it is in its best interest to expand and grow to match the other power-five conferences from a numbers standpoint. Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby was quoted on Wednesday that his “voicemail was filling up” from inquiries from other schools.
Awesome, Bob. Who called? Any SEC West teams in there like Arkansas? What about Notre Dame? Maybe Colorado wants back in?
Negative. Memphis, UCONN, Cincinnati, Houston are the caliber of suitors we’re talking about here. The only school worth a flip in the entire mix is BYU (and they’re a no-brainer considering the landscape).
Then there’s still this issue of the gross unbalance in revenue among the conference schools. Texas leads the way, as they print more money than Jerry Jones, it seems. Good for them; that’s capitalism at its finest. They created the Longhorn Network and should take every cent to the bank. Texas gets a bigger take of conference TV revenue than Kansas and Kansas State.
That’s the problem; the unbalance is what drove Nebraska and Texas A&M away to begin with. Both should be members of the Big 12 today, with a Big 12 Network in place to rack up money for all member schools. But alas, it was not meant to be.
So what is the Big 12’s end game here? At least their planned one? They’re banking on expansion to help keep up with the other conferences and create a more balanced landscape towards making the College Football Playoff every year.
I cannot help and look at the Big 12 and continue to see that it is ultimately doomed until they get the revenues more balanced across the league, and the other member schools tell Texas to go jump in the lake with their network and start up one for the entire conference.
Until then, you can look at SMU and Houston and New Mexico and Tulsa and every other team out there that would be interested in joining, even from the standpoint of getting much less cash than the incumbent members. Yeah, that’ll form unity among conference members.
It’s why the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 are so strong – all of its members are partners and benefit equally. Vanderbilt gets the same amount of money from TV revenue, etc., as Alabama, and the Tide will always have the Commodores’ back when it comes to the conference. Can you say the same about Texas for Iowa State? Nope, and the Cyclones deserve better.
It will be interesting to watch. One day, ESPN is going to figure out that there is no one team in America that can carry an entire network, and will scrap the Longhorn Network and morph it into a Big 12 Network. Conference teams in Kansas, Iowa, West Virginia and the like will one day wake up and insist upon a more stable revenue foundation for the conference.
Bowlsby’s phone may indeed be blowing up. But that’s not the Aggies, Huskers, Tigers or Buffaloes calling to see if they can get back together. That’s Central Florida on line three.