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.
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.
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.