Thursday, February 18, 2010

Texas and the Big XII Continued

Again, without much to read on "Those Who Cannot Be Called Michigan" I have been hitting some internet sites that are looking long and hard at the Big 10 expansion and the apparent Big XII "reduction". I actually started putting together the sequence in my own head that what if the Pac 10 acted first and somehow all came to agreement to let Colorado and Utah/BYU into the conference and would that diminish the earning potential of the Big XII and hurt Texas, forcing them to literally make a reactionary move in order to not be left out in the cold?

This Barking Carnival blog post is an EXCELLENT look at just such a scenario and what is possibly going through Bill Power's (President of Texas) mind at this point. What was most interesting about that post to me was the fact that Texas is stuck with it's political hands tied if it wants to act first. However, it makes totally logical sense that Texas can eventually thumb their nose at their legislature if they have the ability to say, "Look - I'm doing this for the well being and long term survival/growth of The University of Texas" if they make a "reactionary" move. Oh, sure, there will still be Texas politico's that don't "get" this thing from a financial standpoint, and they will stand up and beat their chests and profess how "Texas won't become part of the Big 10 on their watch", but they will quickly be drowned out when they get a glimpse of the Federal Money that is pushed into the Big 10 and CIC universities. If Texas can get a chunk of that money, well, you can bet that it will be a lot harder for any political pressure to be applied in order to stop this from happening.

But, as Frank the Tank said in his latest entryTemplate for Shooting Down Any Argument Against Texas Going to the Big Ten, what if we had to take Texas A&M along with Texas and the Big 10 wanted to go ahead and "make it an even 14"? Who would #14 be? If Texas leading the charge into the Big 10 isn't enough to get the Domers off the "pot" and get them to "shit" their NBC contract and some of the long term "rivalries" that they have (I mean after all, how many more times can they lose to Navy?) and finally join this conference, truly to hell with them as the Big 10 will have the pick of the litter of whoever is left once the revenue is understood. I would be surprised to even see someone like Tennessee or Kentucky re-align and merge with the Big 10 in order to get the revenue and also the Federal R&D money and I think they each have the academics to back it up.

In addition, some simple research by the Tank explains everything you need to know as to why the Big XII isn't going to get any better any time soon. Here's Frank:

First, let’s take a look at the population bases of the states comprising the 5 BCS conferences other than the Big East (which I’m only excluding because they have large states on paper but don’t really deliver the key ones that well for football).

Big Ten 67,379,505
ACC 59,697,664
SEC 58,581,019
Pac-10 54,047,294
Big XII 44,097,046

The Big XII, as of today, has over 23 million less people than in its footprint compared to the Big Ten. What’s worse is that it’s not even diversified, where around 24 million of those people reside in the state of Texas. The reason why the Big Ten and SEC have such massive TV revenue is that they are able to combine intense passion for their schools with fairly large population bases. There might be some intense passion within the Big XII, but it has nowhere near the population base to even come within the vicinity of the deals of the other conferences. Not only that, but Texas has to compare any prospective Big XII revenue to what the Big Ten revenue will look like with the Longhorns included, where the Big Ten’s population base would catapult to over 90 million people. On a financial level, the Big XII simply will not be able to compete with the Big Ten.

Second, there aren’t networks out there that would pony up that type of money. The main entity that can afford to pay the most in rights fees, ESPN, already has its best time slots locked in with – guess who – the Big Ten and SEC. The Big Ten dominates the 11:00 am CT time slot on both ESPN and ESPN2. At the 2:30 CT time slot, the Big Ten is guaranteed nationwide reverse mirror coverage on ABC/ESPN, where if a Big Ten game isn’t shown in a particular region on ABC, it is guaranteed to be shown on ESPN or ESPN2 in that region (which effectively gives the Big Ten nationwide coverage for all games in that time slot just like the SEC on CBS). Meanwhile, the SEC is guaranteed to have a prime time game on ESPN or ESPN2 every single week. As a result, ABC/ESPN simply doesn’t have any more room and, as a result, doesn’t have much incentive to pay much more than it does now for Big XII games.

With respect to the other networks, NBC is satisfied with Notre Dame football and, frankly, is the cheapest network out there when it comes to paying for sports rights. (Please note that the NHL is actually paying NBC for airtime as opposed to the other way around.) CBS has its own massive deal with the SEC for 2:30 CT national games, so it’s definitely not looking for any more college football games. Fox is committed to Major League Baseball for most of the college football season, so it doesn’t have any time slots on Saturday for college football along with having much less incentive to broadcast the sport after giving up the rights to the BCS bowls.

So, unless the Big XII thinks that Fox Sports Net or Versus is going to come through with a massive new offer, there’s literally not much upside to look forward to in the next conference TV contract.

This is so glaringly simple and hits another nail right on the head. Even if Texas gets a larger share of revenue from the Big XII, it's from an entirely smaller pie, a pie that is mostly it's own making. And there's no one left to televise. NBC could but it's "idiotic" contract with the Domers leaves it's hands tied to adding more college football to the Saturday lineup. And Frank also dives head first into the Texas Television Network and explains in some great detail why that will probably never get off the ground - at least not when the Big 10 is handing it a spot on it's network without having to lay out any capital or fund a television network in any way.

Yep, it's looking like something big is about to happen. What, exactly that big something is remains to be seen, but if I was a betting man, I would take a wager that Texas is somehow in the Big 10 in one way, shape or form in the very near future. And Texas A&M and maybe, maybe even those uppity Domers are in the mix as well......

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