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Big 12 saved after all: A reaction and a glance to the future

I've never hit the refresh button so many times in my life.

With each passing minute, it seemed like a new nugget of breaking news would surface regarding this whole conference realignment circus.

Three tabs have appeared regularly on my browser in the last few days, to the point I'd bet good money I could navigate to each website in my sleep: One for Matt Tait's updated realignment blog on KUSports.com, one for orangebloods.com and one for Chip Brown's Twitter account.

The big news on Monday — news I thought I'd never read — was that the Big 12 would survive after all with 10 teams.

This happened as a result of Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's 'Hail Mary' plan, which outlined a scenario for the 10 remaining conference teams to average $17 million per year in TV dollars. Texas, on the high end, is reported to make $20-$25 million per year and have the opportunity to start its own TV network. The Pac-10, which wanted Texas and the entire Big 12 South minus Baylor, wouldn't allow the Longhorns to start their own network.

This past week has been one of the craziest sports weeks I've ever witnessed. It feels like I've been on the Scream rollercoaster at Six Flags trying to sort out the rumors and conflicting reports.

What's best for Kansas?

Answer: Whatever conference Texas is in. At least, that's my answer from a financial standpoint. It makes sense for Kansas to stay in the Big 12 with Beebe's new TV plan in the works. Travel remains reasonable for players and fans, and revenue should see a spike.

KU's other options didn't seem as ideal. Going to the Pac-10 and being a part of a super conference sounded good from a financial perspective, but travel would have been a pain and the time zone difference was ridiculous.

Going to the Mountain West probably would have generated less revenue than the new Beebe plan. And, well, obviously it's not a major conference.

The Big Ten said it was done with expansion for now. Not an option.

The Big East was a rumor, but nothing came of it.

It seems what happened Monday was good news for Kansas, which also gets to preserve its storied rivalries with Missouri and Kansas State.

A peek at future championship implications

The Big 12's survival is certainly good for Kansas City, which was recently awarded the conference basketball tournament at Sprint Center through 2014.

How many of you guys were on hand at Power and Light this year? I attended most of the games and P&L was an electric atmosphere, particularly since Kansas was facing Kansas State in the title game.

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Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Had KU secured what was considered (a few days ago) a coveted invitation to an expanded Pac-10, what are the chances the Pac-10 tournament would consider K.C.? The guess here is zero, considering it's been in Staples Center in Los Angeles for the past nine years.

Honestly, though, let the Pac-10 have Staples Center. Let 'em have that pro-style atmosphere. I'll take Sprint Center and the College Basketball Hall of Fame until 2014 any day of the week for a conference tournament.

Monday's news was great for Big 12 basketball.

With 10 teams, the Big 12 won't be able to hold a conference football championship at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Under NCAA rules, a conference must have at least 12 teams to hold a football championship, which begs the question: Will the Big 12 look to add two more teams?

Not immediately is what Beebe said on a Tuesday afternoon teleconference. I agree. Let the money come in, then look to expand.

What makes this apparent new, lucrative TV deal with Fox and ESPN attractive is that is will maximize value to the 10 Big 12 members. Before the Big 12 expands, Beebe's plan has to actually take effect. After all, his plan is a projection. After the money comes in and everyone signs on the dotted line, the Big 12 should be able to rebuild its image after being put on life support just a few days ago. Give it some time, then look to expand.

If the conference does expand, it makes the most sense to add teams in a sizable TV market that would help drive up revenue. Maybe Memphis and BYU, two TV markets where the conference currently doesn't have a presence. TCU seems attractive because of its football program, but the conference already has all it needs from the Texas TV market in the Big 12 South schools.

If this whole realignment near-fiasco taught us anything, it's that TV markets and a national following are two critical elements when considering expansion.

Scheduling

Here's how the Big 12's survival will affect scheduling, maybe as soon as 2011. In football, all 10 teams will play each other once in a round-robin format each year. There will be nine conference games and three non-conference games. Currently, the Big 12 plays eight conference games and four non-conference games.

In basketball, all 10 teams would play each other twice in an 18-game conference format. Under the current system, the Big 12 only plays 16 conference games per year.

Think about how solid this new 10-member Big 12 will be in hoops. The losses of Nebraska (to Big Ten) and Colorado (to Pac-10) will probably help the conference's RPI. The Big 12 should continue to be one of the top conferences in the country in hoops.

As for football, Texas and Oklahoma should continue to make the conference an annual BCS title contender. The Big 12 is a little top heavy in football, however, and lacks the depth it once had with Nebraska.

By the numbers

Here's some stuff I got from ESPN on Monday. This list appeared on College Football Live. It's the current TV contracts of each major conference:

  • Big Ten: $242 million (equal revenue sharing for schools)
  • SEC: $205 million (equal revenue sharing)
  • Big 12: $78 million
  • ACC: $67 million (equal revenue sharing)
  • Pac-10: $58 million
  • Big East: $33 million

If Beebe's new plan calls for an average of $17 million per year for 10 teams, the Big 12 would still be third, right behind the SEC, with a little under $200 million per year.

Summary of events

After all this, only two things officially changed in the Big 12.

Colorado officially left for the Pac-10, while Nebraska officially left for the Big Ten.

The rest was just rumor and speculation. And a whole lot of craziness.

What do you think of how the events unfolded?

As always, discuss.

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Comments

Steve Brown 3 years, 10 months ago

you ever been in a car in summer with unbeknownst to you the passenger heated seat is on high.

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Steve Brown 3 years, 10 months ago

in the NEW conf. TEXAS TEN formerly known as the big 12 what is the penalty to depart the conference and what is the year notice, 2-3 and if you depart and take 4-5 terams with you what do you (longhorns) owe the remainder institutions. Any one like to bet the farm the departure fee just got lowered or eliminated.

Austin rules the roost. ....... they weren't going to pay the weak sister five to invite TCU Houston Boise State etc. to split their departure funds plus still own the BCS and regional TV rights. Plus the left over weak sister five would get the Cornhusker $20 million.

If Texas leaves in next 5 years do they have to pay Kansas et al the Cornhusker $20 million ...... bet knot........

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Chris1955 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm a bit of a history buff, and to me, this recent episode with the Big 12 schools reminds me of the prelude and beginning of WW I. The schools reminded me of the countries at the outset of WW I with their alliances and posturing. The outcome with the Big XII remaining with 10 members seems artificial. Additionally, the root causes for this initial event still largely unresolved. Welcome to the Versailles peace treaty.

I think that this solution is not permanent. Four, 16 team conferences representing the top 64 athletics programs from a financial perspective are the resolution. The Big XII minus II, does not have the ability to create a legitimate, solid 16 team conference that has any geographic sanity to it.

Now for some speculation on my part. I do look for KU and MU to enter the Big Ten eventually to balance two other schools from the Eastern U.S., probably ND and Rutgers.

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JJHAWK 3 years, 10 months ago

Phillips Petroleum's BB team comes in two flavors - regular and premium.

Kansas University's BB team comes in one flavor - rockchalk !!

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OldProf 3 years, 10 months ago

Why are we running a farm team for the professional leagues? Our best effort at one-and-out players couldn't beat Northern Iowa with a team of four year players not headed for the pro's. Please explain how our team is different from one sponsored by Phillips Petroleum?

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Scott Smetana 3 years, 10 months ago

Great job KUSports.com. Who would have thought we'd all be online this much in June. OK, now back to the flashback memory basketball games please:)

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KCHawk81 3 years, 10 months ago

I admit that I don't understand TV contracts, revenue distribution, etc. But nothing in this article: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/06/15/2019353/reserve-fund-could-boost-texas.html makes me feel very good about the new Big 12. I think the worst part about this is that it's STILL the best spot for KU.

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phaedruscj 3 years, 10 months ago

NU and CU gone means four less "guaranteed" wins in basketball. None of the south teams that KU will now play twice can be considered as such.

The new Big XII-II offices can now officially be moved to Austin.

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Ron Prichard 3 years, 10 months ago

Eric,

Another question. I have heard a lot of speculation about the tiers of the schools in the new Big 12 (10) when it comes to compensation. From what I have heard, KU is in the 3rd tier. First, is this true? Second, is there any provision for the schools to shift tiers based on performance/revenue? Third, what is the reasoning behind OSU and TT being in the second tier?

If KU generated the third most revenue in the Big 12 last year, shouldn't they at least be in the second tier? The only reason at all for OSU and TT to be in that tier would be their association with Texas and OU. Still, I can't imagine Tex went to bat for them once they decided they were staying. TT was going to follow UT wherever it went, so they weren't a threat to leave (same for OSU following OU).

If the tier system is a part of this and KU is in the third tier, it looks like this was way more of a one-sided negotiation than people want to make it seem. Pretty much Texas dictating all terms to Beebe. Although football drives the bus, I have to believe KU had more national TV appearances last year than any other Big XII school (football and basketball combined). That has to count for something.

Any thoughts appreciated.

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Chris Bailey 3 years, 10 months ago

I really hope that we pick up two schools to take us back to full strength. One for the North and one for the South. Moving OU to the North. Memphis would be a good pick up for basketball and may rise in respectability as their status in a BCS conference comes to fruition. I also like Arkansas in the south. What a great rivalry renewal with Texas and Arkansas. I hope that happens but I would ultimately hope that Notre Dame brought its clout and prestige to our conference. Without a doubt the addition of Arkansas and Notre Dame would shift the balance of power making the Big-12 THE conference in the country. Most definitely a stronger and more respected conference over-all than with CU and NU. And don't get me wrong I love Nebraska. My wife is from the state and football is all they have up there. I always find myself cheering for the Huskers when they aren't playing US! I'm also a huge Big-12 supporter and don't care who is playing outside the conference if it's against a Big-12 school I'm cheering for us even if that school is missouri and I know I will catch some flack for that I already do from my friends whom I graduated from KU with in 2007. It's ok I'll take the heat. Now more than ever we need to be a united front in the Big-12 and root for each other in non-conference games and bowl games and NCAA tourney games. We need to build the moral and trust back and continue this conference as some members were here back in the early 1900's when it was the Big 6, Big 7, and Big 8. I'm by no means asking KU to not keep our fierce rivalry with MIssou. I hate them when we play em as much as the next fan but know that we stand to gain more than we lose when we all perform well! That includes attracking two schools to fill us back to full! And If we have any chance at attracting Notre Dame and Arkansas or schools like them we need to breed success in our own backyard! Rock Chalk for life and Big-12 by the grace of god and Dan Beebe! Just my thoughts. Please don't hate.

rock chalk!

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Byrd313 3 years, 10 months ago

Eric,

Is there an ETA for when this supposed "new TV contract" will be finalized? It seems like it would be pretty easy for Beebe to just make up proposed numbers that each school would get, but what does Fox and ESPN think? I know they said they wouldn't reduce the amount of their TV contracts with the Big 12 (10) but they certainly haven't came out and said it would be worth $200 million either. When do these revenue numbers that are pure conjecture at this point become actual agreements with TV providers and the Big 12 (10)?

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billhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

This appears to be a real win-win for the ten conference teams. Basketball is upgraded by subtraction with the loss of the two worst teams.

Conference football (while KU's share of the goodness remains to be seen) is probably upgraded because we'll likely have a team in the running for a NC almost every year and two big Texas/midwest recruiting rivals probably will be more or less shut out of the area allowing us some recruits that may have gone to NU or CU.

Overall a good deal, but the fact that UT got ever more powerful, which was a big reason for the ill-will that led the the crisis, may be the eventual downfall of the league or its partners.

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Jonathan Allison 3 years, 10 months ago

Nice recap Eric. I can't believe how crazy the rumor mill got since last Thursday. I never felt like going to the Big East, ACC, or SEC was really an option, but I did feel like after the Big 10 snubbed Mizzou that we could potentially have a shot at getting into the Big 10 during future expansion if it came to that. I certainly was feeling all along that the best thing was for the 10 teams to stay together and maybe replace NU and CU. Now that it's a done deal I feel like Texas just seized the opportunity to use the Pac-10 talk as leverage to get a new TV contract. In a few years we'll look back at the summer Nebraska and Colorado left the big 12 and laugh at all the rumor, speculation, and worry.

I have got to get to the Big 12 tourney next year. It's great that they have committed to the Sprint Center through 2014. It's definitely the best venue in Big 12 Country, but with no championship game in football, I am sure that after the contract runs out they will want to rotate it back between Dallas, OKC, and KC. Kansas City really needs to get a team in there. Is Kansas City planning to ever get an NBA or NHL team in town?

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86finalfour 3 years, 10 months ago

In my humble opinion, today's news has these implications:

For KU Basketball -- Great for program with getting rid of bottom feeders (NU and CU). Higher RPI and play Texas twice! Also, the divisions seemed useless in BBall since there's no title game, like in football.

KU football -- Probably not so great for them. The season will probably be over before it begins since there won't be an even reachable goal of winning the North division. I know the money is good but Coach Gill's collar must feel tighter this morning.

Kansas City -- This is great for them! the tournament and the $14 million it brings. Good for the rivalries and keeping KSU/MU/KU together. With the losing Royals and Chiefs, this has been the brightest spot on the KC sports scene. Losing Big 12 would've felt like KC lost another franchise.

Rock Chalk!

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loudog 3 years, 10 months ago

I'm happy the conference survived as well. However, I hate that KU's fate rested in the hands of Texas, in particular, and the south division in general. I think we as fans and alumni of KU need to push the President of KU, Lew Perkins, and whoever the next AD will be to make every effort to position the University of Kansas so that we can control our own fate in the future.

Obviously, a lot of that has to do with how our football team develops, as that was the driving factor behind the realignment possibilities, but whatever else the powers that be can do to make KU an attractive conference partner needs to be done. We DEMAND that the fate of KU no longer be so strongly tied to Texas, or any other university.

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Hank Cross 3 years, 10 months ago

UT got what UT wanted: More power; more money; the end of the conference championship game where they might have to kick a last second field goal to go to the BCS championship game; their only possible counterweight in terms of name brand in FB in the North, NU, gone; MU humbled and paying tribute.

KU should be embarassed that it did not have a good plan B. If it actually put together a plan for the North 4 to go to the BE, it might have given UT the scenario of going to the P10 and be one of equals or forming its own TX based conference - all less desireable to than keeping the B12 together.

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milwaukeeJAYHAWK 3 years, 10 months ago

I am so glad the Big XII survived, I can hardly believe it!

Who cares if Texas, A&M and OU get more of the cash...KU still has great financial windfall from this projected TV deal. I don't mind at all. It's better than the MWC or travelling to Eugene, OR for games.

And as for K.C. staying a Big XII hub....excellent. I would be so sad to see the tournament or the KU-Mizzou games leave the area.

Rock Chalk from Wisconsin....

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