The chance you take when you comment on stories like this is that by tomorrow….heck 2 minutes after you hit PUBLISH….the story is nullified by another breaking development. With that disclaimer, here we go.
Now everyone’s favorite Texas propaganda minister is reporting that Texas has agreed to stay in a shrunken Big 12 in exchange for a monster new television deal that gives Texas exactly what they wanted – the ability to have their own Texas Network.
What’s the deal? Promise long-term viability – 18 years (?!?!) – and big payouts (average of 17 million per school) to keep the Big 12 afloat. Sure, it looks like Dan Beebe hit a home run for the good ole’ Big 12, but in reality Beebe may have only saved his job. It’s a band-aid that eventually is going to wear and expose the gaping wound that is, now, the rebirth of the Southwest Conference.
Quick aside, while we are starting to work out the logistics of division alignment, names and logos, let’s keep “Big Ten” the Big Ten and make the “Big 12” the Southwest Conference. That’s the most appropriate name for a league that has never been and never will be for the betterment of all schools. This “deal” smacks of that.
First off, what television deal is signed for 18 years? If true, this is the mother of all contracts. In the short-term, it looks like folly for the network paying big bucks for a conference that is still on shaky ground no matter if Super Tex swoops in to save the day. In the long-term, it looks foolish for the schools that sign because you’re locked into the same dollars for 18 years. How much more behind is this new Southwest Conference going to be in 2025 from the SEC and Big Ten who have a) the historical advantage, b) the stability and c) the population base to continue to command higher and higher rights fees over the course of two decades?
Then you have the further imbalance of power with the Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma (yes, the Sooners too) kneeling to the almighty Zod that is the Burnt Orange kings. You will have sold out entirely to the whims of Texas. Sure, you will have a bigger paycheck for a while, but you will have lost even more ground to your conference rivals who are going to get their dream of a network revenue stream that will take advantage of your competition in order for them to make more money. Remember, there’s no way people are going to pay to watch games unless there is an opponent. Texas still needs foes and they’ll get them…..YOU. And they’ll get to keep all the new money.
And don’t think for one minute that when mega-conference expansion returns – and it will return – that Texas won’t be ready to play those expansion talks into further leverage against the other nine schools.
If all of this continues to paint Texas into the bad guy corner, I understand. Texas is only flexing the muscle that they have by being THE state school in one of the biggest state’s in the union. However, not all of that muscle comes from being Texas – it has also be ceded to them by other willing conference “partners” who are all too willing to suction their lips to Bevo’s ample behind.
Bottom line is this. Nebraska still made the best deal for Nebraska. They are soon-to-be equal partners will 11 other schools who act in the best interest of their conference. They know that 12 people rowing in the same direction will get there faster than one big row paddling with 9 others massaging the big cow’s muscles. Even if Nebraska had stayed, 1) there’s no guarantee that Dan Beebe is motivated to make this desperate, last-ditch effort to bring the Big 12/SWC back to life, 2) Nebraska would not have dramatically improved their academic status and 3) the Huskers would still be forced to work with Texas.
Is Texas evil? No. But some relationships just don’t work. That’s why the word “culture” was used so often by Tom Osborne, Harvey Perlman and Jim Delany. NU and UT are from two different cultures. They mix like Texas oil and Ogallala Aquifer water.
Nebraska is in a better shape today and it appears as if Texas is in a better spot today. College football’s rich just got richer.
And there are others who are hanging on for the ride.