I’ve tried to stay out of the conference expansion frenzy as best I can, because it’s been little more than rank speculation about which school goes where, but as it looks like we may have our first realignment story with some real legs to it, I guess I’ll break my silence and comment.
In case you missed it, a Texas site affiliated with Rivals came out with a blockbuster story yesterday about the Pac-10 being on the verge of offering to take in six Big XII schools – Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado – to create a big time sixteen-school conference that would dominate TV markets west of the Mississippi. When I first read about it, I brushed the story off, mainly because it was loaded with info from unnamed sources, but Matt Hinton’s due diligence about the bona fides of the web site made me sit up and pay a little more attention to the report.
Then, in a prepared statement released just a short time ago, Scott had another chance to at least attempt to jam the toothpaste back in the tube. Instead of jamming, he ended up shooting even more Crest all over the bathroom mirror.“We are aware of a story filed today by an Orangebloods.com columnist, speculating about possible expansion plans for the Pac-10 Conference. While many interesting scenarios have been suggested in numerous news reports, around the country, we remain focused on a thorough evaluation process that examines all of the options for increasing the value of the Conference for our member institutions, our student athletes and our fans. We have not developed any definitive plans. We have not extended any invitations for expansion and we do not anticipate any such decisions in the near term.”
… but the Colorado AD indicated that he was expecting such an invitation imminently.
… Reports that the Pacific-10 Conference would target six Big 12 teams started surfacing early Thursday afternoon. Later, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said that he believed his school would be invited to join the Pac-10, along with Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
“The longer that we were together in Kansas City, it appeared that the rumor of speculation did have some validity,” Bohn told the Boulder Daily Camera.
I doubt it’s much fun being Big XII Commissioner Dan Beebe this morning.
So if this is the real deal, what’s it likely to mean?
- First of all, I can’t say I’m surprised about the target. I’ve thought all along that the Big East and the Big XII were toast if significant realignment occurred. If anything like this deal goes down, the Big XII is vaporized.
- Texas is still the key. It’s not going anywhere unless it’s convinced it’s squeezing the best deal for itself that it can get. If the $20 million figure for the new TV deal is correct (and you’d better believe that’s already been vetted to some extent), that’s a significant bump over what Texas receives now, but that’s not the same thing as saying that it’s the best the Longhorns can do going forward.
- It sucks to be Kansas right now, doesn’t it?
- If this goes through, it’s hard to see where the SEC expands, if it’s so inclined. Texas and Oklahoma will be off the table and the ACC’s new TV contract gives its members the financial stability that’s missing from the Big XII now. The ACC will be a hunter and not one of the hunted. None of the leftovers from either the Big XII or the Big East (assuming the Big Ten and ACC step in and cannibalize it) are financially attractive. It’s hard to see any school out there that the SEC could realistically add that would improve the conference’s bottom line and I don’t see Slive bringing new schools into the conference without that.