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Sprints Examines the Death of the Death of the Big XII and the End of Realignment // 06.15.10

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Well. That was fun.

So, in case you haven't heard, Texas will remain in the Big XII, as will Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. (And presumably Texas Tech, but no one really cared about the Red Raiders in this case except Tommy Tuberville.)

I'll do a bit more of a wrap on this in a bit, but we'll still go with bullet points on the major news of the day followed by the actual headlines that form the basis for those.

  • Texas didn't save the Big XII -- it decided not to kill it. The whole episode has changed my view of Texas a great deal. Maybe it's because I come from a socialist conference that divides conference revenues evenly -- whether you're an Alabama or a Vanderbilt -- but it seems to me that the Longhorns have created a Darwinian league that has less of a spirit of partnership that we have in the SEC. More on that in a moment. But saying Texas "saved" the Big XII is like saying that if I point a gun at your head and decide not to shoot you that I've saved you. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's ridiculous. Texas spent weeks and probably months trying to strike a deal with the Pac-11; made a show of fighting for Baylor but then didn't care what happened to them; tried to blame Nebraska for killing the conference (now obviously untrue) when the Huskers saw the writing on the wall and left; then tried to blame A&M for dividing the South schools because A&M dared to consider another deal; and now wants credit for "SAVING THE BIG XII FROM IMMINENT DEATH." Chip Brown and the Texas media should be given a pass on following that line, but the national media should know better.
  • This is probably not going to keep the Big XII together forever. One of the reasons that Nebraska left the Big XII and Texas A&M was considering the SEC was a feeling that Texas was too big a player in the league. So the Big XII saved itself by ... making Texas a bigger player in the league? For now, the North was more than willing to make those concessions in order to keep everything going. But the terms of the deal also sow the seeds for the same problem whenever the Big Ten or the Pac-11 or the SEC decides to take another run at expansion.
  • Overall, this turned out pretty well as far as I'm concerned. No sour grapes -- Texas A&M would have made a strong addition to the SEC and I'm a bit disappointed we won't be welcoming the Aggies to our league. But even when advocating for A&M to join the SEC, it was always because I thought SEC expansion was inevitable in a world with a 16-team BCS conference. I prefer a 12-team SEC with the current membership as long as the league remains the strongest in the nation. (And I mean that in all respects, not just the strength of the teams.) A 12-team Big Ten and a Pac-12 won't change that, I don't think, and so I'm pleased with the outcome.

Now the news.


What killed the Pac-16 deal
If you still need convincing that Texas was no knight in shining armor, you need look no further than what ended the Pac-16 negotiations: Not a nod to tradition or even the fact that Texas had been out-maneuvered by A&M. No, the Pac-16 found out what happens when Texas doesn't get what Texas want. It is apparently the first time Texas broke up a conference without actually being part of it.

"In the 11th hour, after months of telling us they understand the TV rights, they're trying to pull a fast one on the verge of sealing the deal in the regents meeting," the source said. "They want a better revenue sharing deal and their own network. Those were points of principle. (The Pac-10) wants to treat everyone fairly. It's been that way for months of discussions."

Of course it has. But, you see, things change. Texas just needed a bit more money, don't you see? There were alternatives in play now. The King could make more money by keeping the kingdom together, and wouldn't face as much political heat to boot.

Texas was in this for Texas. And while that's not necessarily different than the motivations of any other player in this battle. But Texas does win some sort of award for perfecting the art. (HT: Ralphie Report)

The new Big XII logo
From Rock M Nation, so you know it's solid.

Um, A&M fans are not what you might call 'happy'
I Am The 12th Man, which would have made a fine addition to our SEC blogging section, labels the administrators who made the decision "cowards" and adds these thoughts on the Texas-centric nature of the deal that will save the Big XII from the situation created by its Texas-centric nature:

Staying in the Big 12 at this point seems like an exercise in futility; even with the new television deal Dan Beebe is proposing, it doesn't address the core issues effecting the conference, i.e. imbalance in revenue sharing, and a lack of television markets in the conference overall. I have no doubt texas would like to remain in the Big 12 and for the status quo to remain, because they badly want to create their own television network, an option that isn't available to them in the Pac-10.

Well, at least you're no longer considering being part of the best football conference in the nation, so that's something? (HT: Dawg Sports)

A&M fans posting on President R. Bowen Loftin's Facebook page probably wouldn't disagree. (HT: Capstone Report)

All of which leads Rock M Nation to wonder how long this will last
The bet is ... not very.

This is only a band-aid, and it's hard to see it as anything but that. And part of the reason I felt so disappointed when this was announced was simply that ... honestly, I wanted to be done with this. I wanted this to be the Summer of Expansion, and I wanted to be done with the issue forever and ever (unless they ended up in a worse conference, ahem). Instead, we stare at a future with another potential breakdown on the horizon. Healthy conferences have members who feel like equals. That has never been the case in the Big 12.

And it won't ever be. That's why the Big XII now feels a bit like the Big East post-ACC raid. There's no reason to believe that it will survive for more than 10 years. The Big East might, against all odds, do just that. But that's no reason to build your business model on it.

Let's start explicating this sentence
From ESPN's wrap of the final days of the negotiations:

The source said the people involved were business executives, conference commissioners, athletic directors, network executives with ties throughout college athletics, administrators at many levels throughout the NCAA membership and a "fair number of them without a dog in the hunt."

First of all, throw out the "fair number of them without a dog in the hunt." Everyone had a dog in this hunt; the ACC and Big East's survival was on the line, the Mountain West's AQ status chances were in the balance and the SEC and Big Ten would have almost had to respond to a Pac-16 (at least in their minds). And network executives were likely in part driving the expansion sweepstakes in one way or the other, so they also certainly had "a dog in the hunt." Which leads you to believe the whole article might be self-serving ... and ESPN might have been involved.

But the purported reason for the interventions -- that this would change college football forever, and not necessarily for the better -- is hard to dispute, and perhaps even some of the people involved realized that. But it doesn't mean people won't try to guess to whom the sentence refers.

Certainly, even ESPN's journalistic standards would have kept them from writing about this, right? Oh, never mind.

About the Mountain West Conference ...
While I'm back to no longer taking Rivals and Scout writers' Twitter feeds as a rock-solid source of information about conference realignment, this also seems plausible. Larry Scott will move quickly to try to get Utah now and might have already done so.


Nebraska to the Big Ten could mean UCLA vs. Alabama
Follow this closely: UCLA has a game with Nebraska scheduled in 2012. For some reason -- perhaps attempting to avoid a Rose Bowl rematch between the two teams (please, stop laughing) -- the Huskers move to the Big Ten has now made this match-up more tentative. If NU and UCLA cancel the game, "an opportunity to play defending national champion Alabama in a neutral-site season opener in 2012 has developed." So, there you have it. Potential roadblock: UCLA has a bye week before opening weekend.

Brady Wiederhold out at Georgia
For those who read that and say, "Who's Brady Wiederhold?" -- I didn't know the name, either. But when I read that Wiederhold was the pitching coach, future questions ended. The Dawgs had a 8.51 ERA in SEC games. Pitching was epically bad. Probably not a hard call.

Westerdawg is blunter
The headline: "Our Long National Nightmare is Over"

I can't add anything to this
Mark Larson, Southern Cal booster:

There's a difference between cheating and breaking the rules. This was breaking the rules. It's ludicrous to say USC was cheating.

(HT: Scarbinsky)

Southern Cal might lose a game
And Hawaii might pay for it as a result. Again: Follow. In 2002 and 2003, Alabama countered its bowl ban by scheduling games with Hawaii, which allowed it to play a 13th game. So the Southern Cal ruling bars them from using that exception to the 12-game limit. Actually, I think the NCAA should allow Southern Cal to play the game, but its cut of the revenues should go to Hawaii.

Former Mississippi State RB gets four-year deal from 49ers
I think anyone who's read for a while knows I really like Anthony Dixon; glad to see him get paid to do what he does so well.

Vanderbilt CB also gets paid
Myron Lewis gets a four-year deal with the Buccaneers.