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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.


actorman 2 years, 7 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 ...


milwaukeeJAYHAWK 2 years, 7 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.


Hank Cross 2 years, 7 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."


Steve Brown 2 years, 7 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?


Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 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!!!


Chris Bailey 2 years, 7 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!


chalky 2 years, 7 months ago

Why would Texas want to pull KU away with them?


djhawk75 2 years, 7 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.


Uwe_Blab 2 years, 7 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.


pepper_bar 2 years, 7 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!


Dyrk Dugan 2 years, 7 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.


jhawkrulz 2 years, 7 months ago

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

I can't wait.


hawksince51 2 years, 7 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.


mustlehustle 2 years, 7 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.


FSUJHAWK 2 years, 7 months ago

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



blackhawkjayhawk 2 years, 7 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.


Keith Hummel 2 years, 7 months ago

I agree that it is in the best interest of all the schools to keep the Big-12 together. But is it even possible at this point? Let's say the majority of the schools agree that Texas is the primary problem, and decide to vote to do away with the LHN, and vote to have equal revenue sharing, and then tell Texas to either take it or take a hike. Is that even possible given the TV contracts and other agreements that exist? Wouldn't Texas sick their Clearly Texas is the root of all evil here, but if you can't get them to play nice and you can't get rid of them, what's left but to fold the conference?


jbrownjib 2 years, 7 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.


scarletbhound 2 years, 7 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.


pgittemeier09 2 years, 7 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


manginorh00lz 2 years, 7 months ago

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


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