Friday, July 30, 2010

The Texas 10

One clever wag has produced the definitive logo for the new conference formed out of the former Big 12 due to the defections of Colorado and Nebraska.  What makes it so funny is the degree  to which it is grounded in truth.  In fact, one could argue that the Big 12 should have been titled "The Texas 12 Conference" in the first place.

When the Big 12 was formed out of the Big 8 and 4 members of the Southwest Conference, sports writers and broadcasters immediately declared it to be the strongest conference in the country before playing a game.  This summer they came within a heartbeat of being divided and distributed they way an organ donor is.  It has been alleged that one thing that saved the conference was that Texas leaked the plan for 6 Big 12 teams to join the Pac 10, now Pac 12, or so the commissioner of the Pac 12, Larry Scott, has alleged.

Why would Texas do this?  Easy. They can't dictate terms to the conference they are in unless they are the clear cut economic and sports power in that conference and that they are that in the Texas 10.  They were that in the Big 12 as well and this is one of the things that led Nebraska to leave the conference.  In the Pac 16, as it would have been, USC would never have allowed them to dictate conference policy.  The idea that they might have been able to wield power in the SEC or Big 10 is laughable.  In fact,  the only way Texas can be happy is in a conference created in their image.  As a Sooner semiloyalist I am dismayed that Oklahoma has ceded authority to them.  Oklahoma has, after all, won more Big 12 championships than Texas did and have been in more BCS championship games.

It has been said that the Big 12 was saved because ESPN and others worked with Commissioner Beebe to find a way to enhance the revenues of the ten teams that remained. It seems that ESPN acted out of self-interest for were 6 teams to leave the the Big 12 for the Pac 10, there would be no conference left that ESPN could strike a TV deal with.  Having partially lost the Big 10 thanks to the creation of the Big Ten Network, ESPN must have found the potential loss of Texas and Oklahoma and others to any TV deal the new Pac 16 would strike to be quite unsatisfactory -- unless, I suppose, they struck the deal with ESPN.  Allegedly BCS leaders also worked to keep what was left of the conference together.  The idea that one conference could expand by destroying another must have been anathema to clear thinking, reasonably moral persons.

The Big Ten claimed it would never take so many teams from a conference that it would kill it off.  As it is, they have taken just one team.  What this conference will do in the future remains to be seen but I would hope that they do not rip the guts out of the Big East just to lure Notre Dame.  Perhaps they could conspire with the ACC and SEC to gently dissect the Big East by way of creating so-called "Super Conferences."

The seeds of the destruction of the Texas 10 have already been planted.  The online journal, Cron, says

The Big 12 Conference promised Texas A&M $20 million annually and the Aggies intend to collect, A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said Wednesday.
“A key part of Texas A&M’s decision to remain in the Big 12 earlier this summer was the commissioner’s commitment that Texas A&M would receive a minimum of $20 million annually in future conference distributions,” Loftin said in a statement. “We remain committed to the conference and fully anticipate that the Big 12 will honor its commitment to Texas A&M.”
And what happens if the Big 12 doesn’t honor its $20 million pledge? A high-ranking A&M official said late Wednesday that every legal avenue would be explored first, with the potential of bolting for the Southeastern Conference coming after.

Presumably Texas A&M would have to be paired with some other team if it were to move to the SEC. The odds are that that would be Oklahoma unless T. Boone Pickens could stop it from happening.

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