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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


OU, UT better off in Big 12


The New York Times, not claiming to have conducted a scientific study, used various data to calculate an estimate on the size of each of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools fan bases.

Reading the compelling results confirms the belief of any sane, unbiased spectator of the conference realignment mosh pit: Texas and Oklahoma are better off staying together in the Big 12 than they would be departing together to form a Pac-16.

According to the estimates made by the Times, the Big 12 has seven of the biggest 41 football fan bases, six if Texas A&M; is subtracted: 5. Texas, 6. Texas A&M;, 19. Oklahoma, 23. Missouri, 33. Texas Tech, 40. Kansas, 41. Oklahoma State. The Pac-12 has three ranked in the top 41: 17. USC, 25. UCLA, 31. California.

Staying in the Big 12 means better rivalries and more sensible travel for OU and UT student-athletes and fans. It also would mean being in a conference that has two-thirds of its members in the top 41 largest fan bases. Why defect to a conference that would have 44 percent in the top 41?

Remember, when Oklahoma and Texas met to discuss ways to keep the Big 12 together, they couldn’t agree on how to share revenue, so they’re going to move halfway across the country to be in a conference together there? Move from a football-crazed region to one considerably more laid-back about college football? On what planet does this makes sense?

The Longhorns swing a bigger bat in the Big 12 than they could in any other conference. So surrender a little of the power and revenue share to Oklahoma, and the Longhorns and Sooners can swing their big bats together in the Big 12.

Fantasies of the Big 12 staying together hinge on Texas and Oklahoma realizing that once the honeymoon of heading west wears off, they’ll pine for the good old days of Big 12 football. The Pac-12 also could help the Big 12 stay together by refusing to let Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in.

It’s interesting that Connecticut, very public about its desire to join the ACC, hasn’t been invited yet. Neither has Rutgers. Might the ACC be waiting for Texas to find a permanent landing spot, and could Texas insist on bringing Kansas with it?

In the world of last-minute flights, anything’s possible, even Texas and Notre Dame expanding the Big Ten.

Just in case, the Big East and Big 12 already have started merger discussions.

And isn’t it interesting that the Longhorn Network, identified by some as the No. 1 culprit in Big 12 chaos, has gained so little traction that a move to the Pac-12 could mean the network downsizes to just another regional network. So little traction, yet such a remarkably destructive force for so many people in so many states, people now in such an angry emotional state.

Fans and student-athletes lose if the Big 12 blows up. The biggest winner? Attorneys. Lawsuits could fly from Ames to Waco.


manginorh00lz 6 years, 8 months ago

If conference realignment were only about football, Keegan would actually be right on this. Too bad it's bigger than that.

100 6 years, 8 months ago

Keegan makes a good point that a lot of talking heads are avoiding. I'd like to see more journalists explore it more. In the next couple years, the shared conference money at a place like the PAC will be more. But by how much? And what about when another conference signs a deal bigger than the PAC? What then, would UT & OU flee the PAC to the newest big money conference?

If money really is the driving force, how about the long term projections for 2 legacies that would (in theory) be swimming in a 16 team west coast conference?

What will be the end product of stability in, say, the next 20 years?

It's quite obvious OU & UT would still be viable partners in a league like this & would have a nice yearly shared $. Would it be more than what could be made in another conference, closer to home, where national championship runs would still be a high likelihood. Becoming, in football, like an ASU (PAC historically has a tradition of equality with solid athletes spread throughout), would this really be worth it for the big picture, financially?

Is the possible loss of a legacy (that's a scientific study conducted by common sense of traveling long distance from Mexico to Canada to play undercard PAC teams who historically shock #1's) really worth joining the PAC?

  1. The best either UT or OU would ever do in the next 20 years would be a 2 loss season. That's based on a statistical program from a computer program, called commonsense.

  2. Are OU's & UT's fanbases OK with this?

  3. Doesn't the fanbase & legacy put you in position for such moves based on viewership?

  4. Will their respective legacies continue to be what they are now in 20 years? Will they "keep" their own fanbase? Will the national fanbase who used to care about OU & UT, really care about an ASU type team that doesn't have fans at away games and usually loses 3 games or so a year (about what Glen Mason did for us in the mid 90's, I believe he got us to 10-2 one season).

My only big point is, for some reason the reporters are overlooking the biggest point of all of this....

UT & OU, as far as I know them... Really do care about their legacies... They really do care about their own fans... They really do like traveling to regional games... They really do like to control their own destiny as they mostly have over the last 100 years...

OU & UT would be risking something much bigger than money with a move like this.

They're risking in a could be move to the PAC, in 20 years, becoming the Missouri of the Big 12....

Not a bad image. But no where what they were.

Their image was built & maintained here, right in the middle of the USA!

The PAC "squashes" the life out of anything the Big 12 stood for....

And they would nearly die of laughter if UT & OU agree to play half of their games with a distinct traveling (barfbag city) disadvantage with nearly zero fans in cities that may as well be owned by France.

Hopefully UT & OU sees that before it's too late.

100 6 years, 8 months ago


What are you scared of, that a UT president might actually read some sensible comments below this Keegan story & come to his senses & agree that equal revenue sharing is the way to keep OU in the big 12 thus allowing both UT & OU to continue their prosperous legacies?

Rock Chalk.

"Long live the Big 12!"

100 6 years, 8 months ago

You said "Keegan might be right, if this were about football." You go onto say that it's about something "bigger." The implication is money.

I simply replied to your post. In the end, if your legacy is already in place, your decision most certainly "better" be about football. Because where does the money come from? Oh yeah.... Football.

Don't forget the chicken & the egg argument.

Where did the money come from?

A market... A network. A contract. Sales of tickets. Sales of apparel. Specifically all from a fanbase that loved... football!!!!

It's about FOOTBALL!!!!!

Where did the legacies come from?

2 fanbases that loved football.

Don't let the talking heads fool you. This solution set we shall see in the next few weeks will be much more about football than you realize.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this, is will Texas realize this before it's too late?

pgittemeier09 6 years, 8 months ago

and yet i feel like he still thinks the merger is our best bet....ku getting spanked every week by the oklahoma and texas bats....sounds fun

scarletbhound 6 years, 8 months ago

I read the NYTimes study that Keegan refers to and it is indeed fascinating. I was especially struck by figures showing that KU would be the third most followed football team in the conference if the Jayhawks were in the PAC-12, while we are in the middle of the pack in the Big 12. It's also remarkable how little interest college football draws on either coast; the sport is clearly a Midwest/South obsession. Perhaps that makes an argument that KU could do well in the Big East. We would be highly competitive in football, which -- face it -- we never will be much more than middling in the Big 12, and assuming the merged conference retains a BCS spot KU might go to larger/richer bowls more often than once or twice a generation. Meanwhile, the basketball team would be a regular feature on TV in the talent-rich and basketball crazy New York-Washington area. That would raise KU's national profile considerably. A regular dose of Rock Chalk fever could prove infectious and help overcome the notable East Coast bias in college basketball. In other words, while I'm sure that most of us would prefer to maintain the Big 12, KU should be fine if the thing blows apart.

John Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

I am having a hard time understanding how spreading out college sports geographically equates to higher revenues long term. Kansas v. Missouri peaks my TV veiwing interest much more than KU v. Rutgers. Texas v. OU seems like a bigger game than Texas v. Arizona. What makes the KU v Duke game in basketball is the rarity. Whereas KU v. KSU is the rivalry.

supersonicf111 6 years, 8 months ago

Nice correction without any bashing! That's a rare thing.

Chris Bailey 6 years, 8 months ago

Equal revenue sharing could still leave the LHN intact. It would give KU a raise. And it's much better than where we sit now! Plus OU has been rumored thinking of their own network too.

actorman 6 years, 8 months ago

"meant to say above - "Wouldn't Texas sick their lawyers ..."

Actually you meant to say, "Wouldn't Texas sic their lawyers ...," but I quibble.

blackhawkjayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

The ACC now replaces the PAC 2,000 as the conference making the least amount of sense. Here's betting that the PAC 1M is already regretting inviting those bastions of academic excellence and large tv markets of Utah and Colorado into their league.

Everyone knows that the Big 12 is the best option for all of the remaining schools - and as a fan, I much prefer the single-division format - but logic is already gone out of this argument, hasn't it?

OU's Boren has backed himself into a corner through his ridiculous posturing and he's run out of good, save-face options. I'd like to see KU and the others step up and give him a 5pm deadline for today.

jgkojak 6 years, 8 months ago

Actually the ACC did us all a favor by adding teams that make perfect sense -

Syracuse and Pitt are well within the geographic footprint (both teams are closer to half a dozen teams than even the B12 or B10 can boast). Pitt is an AAU school, highly regarded academically. Both play quality basketball.

If they add Rutgers and UConn, they are again geographically well-aligned (Boston College and Rutgers literally just down the highway from one another).

The best news is that if the B10 needs to get to 16, they're probably stuck with a Kansas/Mizzou combo as part of the deal - which of course makes plenty of sense.

In fact... I would not be surprised, if Texas and Oklahoma choose to stay in the B12 and the ACC goes to 16 by adding Rutgers and UConn, if the B10 does not come calling in a couple of years -- meaning it'll be KS and MO driving the B12 bus off the cliff.

FSUJHAWK 6 years, 8 months ago

Could the Big 12 - Big East merger pave the landing strip for ND football when their NBC contract is up?


David Atchley 6 years, 8 months ago

Good piece from Keegan this morning....I continue to beat the proverbial drum that economic indicators which equate to disposable dollars spent, have shown the Big 12 Conference geography to be best suited moving forward. Mack Brown continues to plea with any that will listen, to think about the high school coaches, and friends and family of players that will immediately be impacted if you all of a sudden find yourself in 1 or 2 time zones away from your territory.

Kansas has enjoyed national reach in basketball but football is largely about a coach's relationship with a player and his high school coach. Kids will continue to grow up and desire to play for the University of Texas, or University of Oklahoma, whatever conference they find themselves. Its the schools like Kansas and Iowa State that will find what is already a tough sell to a football player "hey you can immediately start if you come to our school" or "you'll really love living 40 miles from the nearest metropolitan city" because these kids won't have the alligience to the Big 12 Conference. They won't get to play against kids they grew up either playing with, or playing against as they'll be scattered to the Conference wind.

Most of all, the fans and family that can only drive 2 hours or 8 hours to see their son play, will completely go away when your games are 1 or 2 hours difference in time zone.

How is it the Pac 12 that was on life support only 3 years ago, has magically become such a formidable force in college football? Its simple; they have a commissioner that in a short period has built up a $2B war chest for its Conference! Take USC success out of the equation and the Big 12 has been significantly more of a force on the national college football landscape. Its about time they stood up and starting acting like it.

If the Big 12 went on the offensive and snapped out of this "yard sale, Craig's List" mentality they have been lulled into, started raiding neighboring States like Arkansas and Illiniois, and Arizona, and Louisiana, and Iowa, and cherry-picked from the Mountain West and Conference USA Conferences, and parlayed that into and insulated their Conference in similar fashion as the ACC....we could return to actually watching the game of football.

KUAlum2000 6 years, 8 months ago

You were right on point until you mentioned the PAC is nothing without USC. What about Oregon that played in the NC last year, or Cal or even ASU which just beat Mizzou? PAC has built itself up, but doesn't get much airplay due to usually playing the late games.

Other than that small point, everything was right on.

kureader 6 years, 8 months ago

11 of the Big 12 teams want to preserve the conference and share revenues equally like all the other BCS conferences do. Sign on to your home town Texas blog instead of this one and ask your Texas buddies why they think they should be the only BCS team who makes more money than the other teams in their conference.

hawksince51 6 years, 8 months ago

So now all the other players have either picked up their chips and gone elsewhere (NU, CU, aTm) or have folded their hand and will watch UT and OU play Texas Hold'em. OU is the only one with enough chips on the table to call UT and try to force a change in the revenue sharing. On the other hand UT probably guesses that OU's hole card (Pac ??) may only be about a five because of the question of whether the Pac ?? will take OU without UT. High stakes for not only these two but the other 7 Big 12 schools. The thing about poker is that it is not all about the cards.

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 8 months ago

If the Big XII folds, I believe we are in the Big Ten.

I can't wait.

Robert Brock 6 years, 8 months ago

I wish the Big Ten were interested in KU. Unfortunately, they are not.

Jim Roth 6 years, 8 months ago

Not yet. Give them time to realize they also will need to become supersized.

142466 6 years, 8 months ago

Too early to say that the Big Ten won't take us.

Because the Irish are looking over their shoulder, the Big 10 is very reluctant to publically indicate what their intentions are. I'm sure, though, that in private they & N.D. are formulating an expansion plan.

The Big Ten will probably have to go to 16 (possibly 18), to keep pace with the other 3 Supers. So, KU has a chance, perhaps a fairly good chance, to enter the Big Ten, provided that Mizzou teams with KU.

Dyrk Dugan 6 years, 8 months ago

this is a good article.....makes perfect sense.

of course, most fans have already figured this out....there's no coverage on the West Coast out here....especially in basketball. i know football rules the day, but it's simply not good for plains states schools, to be regularly playing two time zones away....makes no sense whatsoever.

and the fan interest? absolutely. there's a reason why UT and OU played a game every year when they weren't in the same's a fan crazy time at the Texas State Fair....and plenty of Okies go down.

i'm still holding out hope....and until the Pac 12 holds a news conference...."this is a historic day..." that the Big 12 can survive. it's on life support....but the heart, the fans, is still ticking.

pepper_bar 6 years, 8 months ago

"The New York Times, not claiming to have conducted a scientific study, used various data..."

"Reading the compelling results confirms the belief of any sane, unbiased spectator..."

Outstanding. Ladies and gentlemen, the Lawrence Journal-World!

Uwe_Blab 6 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if anyone has bothered to do a cost analysis of switching conferences. If you get more revenue sharing but are having to travel twice to three times as far for EVERY sport (e.g. volleyball, baseball, swimming, etc.) won't you most likely come out as a net loss? I wonder what TCU's cost spreadsheets look like heading into next season.

djhawk75 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Keegan today, and I'm sure that there are some folks in Texas and Oklahoma who would agree. But OU & UT are still leaving because they believe it will bring them more $$$ and media exposure.

This move could actually hurt them. Keegan and the NYT article that he refers to imply that OU and UT are leaving a geographical and cultural fraternity that loves football for one that does not. If it is football that drives the $$$ and media exposure in college athletics today, then the colleges would be wise to find the strongest football markets. That would be in the Southeast and Midwest, not the Pacific. So when the East Coast media carries the ACC and SEC in their new forms they will, as they have done before, occasionally forget that people do play football out west. That's not good for the $$$ and exposure thing. In the end OU and UT will still be among the biggest fish in the pond, but jumping to a different pond does not mean the water is better.

100 6 years, 8 months ago

Brother you nailed it. That really is the biggest point of this.

I really hope they have some fans who live on the west coast & are aware of the PAC culture.

College football is the Midwest, the south, & I would contend the north as well. The northeast & most of the west just don't get into college football with a passion, except for a couple of big exceptions in the middle of a huge territory that includes a whole bunch of nature. And even then, a typical USC football fan has "the Lakers" to worry about...

Does OU & UT want their legacies or not?

Because they're rooted right here, where college football is huge.

Dennis Mahorney 6 years, 8 months ago

Why would Texas want to pull KU away with them?

Chris Bailey 6 years, 8 months ago

Is there any thought given to the alumni of these universities??? I mean how difficult is it going to be for KU fans to travel to away games if we're playing in the big east? Look at the amount of travel cost's for each school and to me the gain in revenue is lost on travel especially for the nonrevenue generating sports. Why would OU and Texas jump to a conference from being big fish to being the same as everyone else in the pond? We need to keep the big 12 together and our university needs to be vocal about that instead of standing by and waiting for the big boys to decide our fate! KU has a huge fan base and is spread quite widely across the US. I see KU fans everywhere I travel. We are important and we need to have a voice in all of this! Keep the Big12 intact! We will be sorry if things go differently!

JayHawkFanToo 6 years, 8 months ago

I have posted several times that from a logistics perspective for student-athletes and fans, the PAC is the worst possible option.

I just don't get some posters clamoring about joining the PAC; obviously they do not travel often to the West Coast; if they did, they would know what a royal PITA it is. On top of that, the Mid-West and Pacific Coast cultures are very far apart.

Regional conference with regional rivalries is the way to go. I believe that some politicians are starting to hear from constituents and they might end up getting involved after all.

100 6 years, 8 months ago

All I know is if we are forced to join the Big East, our Board of Regents better make sure Fort Hays State is along for the ride too.

Tony Bandle 6 years, 8 months ago

I am in the front line to criticize Keegs when he strays off center, but this article is right on target. In fact, it shows that Tom has the talent when he has the fortitude and the facts to write outstanding sports commentary.

Maybe that's why it is so frustrating to not see this kind of quality sports journalism more often.

Keegs, whatever you had for breakfast today, don't change your diet!!

I am waiting for FOX and ESPN to holler "Stop this madness or no one gets a check!!" The next sound you'd hear was crickets as every sports administrator and college president would hold their collective breath!!!

Steve Brown 6 years, 8 months ago

The B12 not only will be saved it will be stronger than ever after this fling with the other conferences has concluded. Texas has run off Nebraska, Buffs and ATM and MU if they could have an invite last year. Writing on the wall no one stays with a dictator Bevo. After Texas explores options discovers no other conference let's them have special rules and the travel across two time zones is horrendous. Mack Brown said it best, staying closer to home in a regional conference is good for all our stakeholders. Here is the important point, when Texas decides to stay and 'save' the B12 we must unite and unify over the new shared revenue rules. Right?

Hank Cross 6 years, 8 months ago

I don't know why anyone is mad at Beebe. Tom Keegan told us a year ago that Beebe saved the B12.

"Dan Beebe, take a bow. You earned it.

Tagged toes pointing to the ceiling, the Big 12 was on its way to the burial grounds until Beebe resuscitated it by doing what conference commissioners are supposed to do. He squeezed every last penny of television money available and told the remaining 10 members what that meant for them. He determined what each and every institution needed to hear to stay put. He convinced them why it all made sense to survive as a 10-member conference for now.

The man’s a smart guy with a firm handshake and a down-to-earth vibe that makes him a guy with whom you want to keep doing business. And he displayed thick-enough skin to keep forging ahead when things looked dire, as the vultures from the Pac-10 circled above.

For Kansas University, it’s not quite time to erect a statue of Beebe to put next to the one of Phog outside Allen Fieldhouse, but a nice ovation, maybe even a “Thank you Beebe (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)” is in order when he next shows his face at a KU football or basketball game."

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 6 years, 8 months ago

Please God whatever happens let's stay away from the PAC-12. Big 12 or Big 10, but anything but the West Coast.

actorman 6 years, 8 months ago

"i'm still holding out hope ... that the Big 12 can survive. it's on life support....but the heart, the fans, is still ticking."

They say the heart of the Big 12 is still beating. And from what I've seen I believe 'em. Now the old boy may be barely breathing, but the heart of the Big 12, heart of the Big 12 is still beating ...

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