Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hook 'Em Horns??? It Could Very Well Be Texas as #12

When I read Brian Cook's take on the Big 10 adding Texas to the mix on MgoBlog and the fact that the move would more or less implode the Big 12, I agreed with it and as much as I would have liked to have Texas, it just didn't make sense. The Big 12 couldn't handle the loss....
But I was thinking like a FAN - not a UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT.....

Frank the Tank makes a GREAT ANALYSIS as to why Texas SHOULD want to join the Big 10 - Money, Television Exposure and security. Notice I didn't say anything about recruiting, playing "up north in the snow", rivalries or any of that other BS....While its an extremely long blog/article, its well worth the read. Frank the Tank is a Corporate Attorney that comments and blogs on a lot of different issues and I spent some time cruising his entire blog last night. You should read some of his opinions on everything to get a flavor for how accurate his analyses are. If you don't have time, here's the MMQ's synopsis. The argument is actually quite clear and simple - Don't think like a sports fan, think like a university president.

If Missouri, Iowa State or some other flea bag from the middle of the Big 12 joins the Big 10, that leaves the Big 12 as the smallest TV conference in college football. In addition, the Big 10 gets nada from bringing a team like that in...Except the Championship game and that's not enough....You need to look at the equation as:

11+1=13, not 11+1=11.5. NO ONE IN THE BIG 10 WANTS TO GIVE UP REVENUE!!!

And the discussion of bringing in 3 teams (two from the Big East and one from the Big 12) and making the Big 10 a 14 team "Superconference"? Re-read the above line in bold in case you haven't "gotten" it yet. For a 14 team conference to even work and have the equation look something like 11+3 = 15.5, you would need the likes of Miami (Florida), Rutgers or Syracuse and Mizzou...NOT GONNA HAPPEN....Not only that, but anyone that's worthy of joining the Big 10 from the Big 12 will leave Texas with even LESS revenue - plain and simple. On top of that, the stability of the Big 12 at that point would be very much in question. Colorado and Utah are natural candidates for the PAC 10, if they can ever agree to expand, taking away more revenue from the Big 12. To put it simply: Texas needs to look long and hard at the financial windfall ($10M annually from football alone) of making a decision to join the Big 10. From Frank's #1 Follow Up to his original blog:

So, let’s make it perfectly clear why any Big East school and probably any Big 12 school would leave for the Big Ten. Here is the annual TV revenue for each conference as reported by ESPN’s Outside the Lines last month along with the average for each school:

Big Ten: $242 million ($22 million per school)
SEC: $205 million ($17.08 million per school)
Big 12: $78 million ($6.5 million per school)
ACC: $67 million ($5.58 million per school)
Pac-10: $58 million ($5.8 million per school)
Big East: $13 million for football/$20 million for basketball ($2.8 million per football school)

Take a look at those figures for a moment – every single Big Ten school makes almost twice as much TV revenue every year as the ENTIRE Big East football conference and even makes more than the entire Big East basketball contract (which is that conference’s greatest strength). There is no rational president of a Big East university that is fulfilling his or her fiduciary responsibility to such university that would turn down an invitation from the Big Ten for any reason whatsoever (whether it’s what the basketball coach says or anything else). That’s not a personal knock on the Big East (as I’m also a law school alum of Big East member DePaul) but just a simple and glaring reality when you take two seconds to look at the numbers.

Back to your MMQ...Forget the rivalries - they can still play Texas A&M and Oklahoma with their open slots. Everyone else is old Big 8 teams that Texas tradition doesn't really give two hoots about. (It sounds like they don't really like having to play the likes of Baylor, Rice, and Texas Tech - and don't even bother to bring TCU and SMU into the discussion - those are like MAC teams down there at this point. The SWC was doomed...). The Big 10's television footprint would expand by almost 1/3, increasing the revenue and giving it an even stronger negotiating base when it comes to renewing television contracts.

It's a huge win-win for both the Big 10 and Texas!

And there really isn't much the Big 12 can do to stop it from happening as Texas is the biggest player in the conference from an endowment and brand standpoint. What's really interesting is that the Big 12 is actually in a lot more precarious position financially than anyone thinks. They have tried a cable network (didn't happen) but the rumor is there wouldn't be enough revenue generation from the markets the Big 12 is currently in to make it work! The Big 10 network looks like it's here to stay and will provide additional revenue for the Big 10 for years to come. Again, think like that University President - years of revenue - even when YOU'RE team is having a down year....Another interesting fact: When the SWC collapsed 15 years ago, Texas petitioned the Pac 10 to join and of course, with the Pac 10's rule of needing 10 out of 10 votes to let a team in, they were rejected. Then they asked....Wait for it....The Big 10! But the Big 10 still had the moratorium on adding a team so soon after adding Penn State. So, Texas approached the Big 8 and took Texas A&M, Baylor and Tech with them...But there's not a lot of love for the other teams in that conference - not by Texas, anyway.

What I REALLY liked about the Tank's take on this whole thing? His analysis of the Domers and how stupidly illogical they actually are when it comes to joining the Big 10. While they are in the Big 10 if they CHOOSE TO JOIN (This may or may not be true. The Domers had the "cache" 10 years ago, but they may have diluted their brand to the point of not being someone the Big 10 wants to deal with), they are now financially hurting themselves IN THE LONG TERM and may forever be labeled as a team that "once was"...Back to Frank...

Notre Dame’s issue is that it’s almost impossible for it to take advantage of these financial changes by being outside of a conference unless it moves all or most of its games to cable (i.e. Versus, which is now a sister company to NBC in the new Comcast conglomerate), which defeats the main advantage of having an independent TV contract in the first place (nationwide over-the-air NBC coverage whether you have cable or just rabbit ears). As a result, independence has turned from Notre Dame’s greatest financial asset into possibly its greatest long-term financial liability.

Another interesting tidbit that I have been digging for more information on that Frank alluded to: The Domers were apparently very close or had even approached the Big 10 in 2003 when the ACC raided the Big East and took Boston College, Miami, and Va Tech...And DIDN'T EVEN CONSIDER THE DOMERS, even though Notre Dame Basketball is part of the Big East Conference.

So, what to make of all this? After reading Frank, it's very obvious to me that there won't be an addition to the Big 10 unless it makes complete financial sense, top to bottom. And simply adding a 12th team to generate $15M on a championship game divided 12 ways isn't enough to motivate the Big 10 to conisder it. But if you add the television footprint of Texas, well, now it starts to make a lot of sense.

Long Story Short - Look for the very realistic possibility that The Longhorns, Wolverines and Buckeyes all end up in the same conference sooner rather than later... It's the only adder that the Big 10 can look at and say 11+1=13. And Texas wins big, also.

And wouldn't that be amazing?

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