Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A SCREECHING halt to Expansion?

That sound you just heard? It might be screeching tires, or it might just be the Pac-12 putting the brakes on expansion.

From the beginning, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has preached equality. In selling the Los Angeles area teams on the concept of Expansion 2010, Scott was able to garner a major concession from the two power brokers: equal revenue sharing. In doing so, Scott laid the groundwork for the most lucrative television deal in college football history. Along the way, the then Pac-10 flirted with the concept of a Pac-16.

During an 11th hour bargaining session, Texas took a concept gleaned from their discussions with Scott and tried to get rich on their own. They brokered a deal that temporarily salvaged the Big 12. However, in order to make that deal, they were able to convince nine other schools (after the defection of Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big 10) that they deserved a larger share of the pie. They were further able to convince the league that, though the Big 10, SEC and Pac-12 now all had their own league-wide networks, the Big 12 did not need one; only Texas would need a network. How they were able to convince people of this is beyond me, it just does not make sense.

Fast forward a year, and the Big 12 is about to implode all because Texas felt it deserved a larger share of the pie. They squeezed everyone out. And that angered some folks in College Station. So much so, that they decided to leave and let everyone else fight amongst themselves.

This set off a frenzy. Texas, being Texas, though, continued to look for a partner willing to let them keep their own network while taking an unequal proportion of the conference television money. What they have found; no one is willing to sell their souls to the Texas Longhorns. First the ACC told them thanks but no thanks. Now the Pac-12 has told them they are not interested in their bloated expectations.

At this point, Texas is left scrambling to mend fences. The conference they have nearly destroyed for two consecutive years is in shambles. Oklahoma was set to leave taking Oklahoma State with them. Missouri, they were likely gone too leaving four teams with nowhere to go...

Where does the conference go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. They probably look to add 3 teams with the promise of better paydays to get back to 12 teams. My guess would be looking to add BYU and two of their old Southwest Conference members, Houston and SMU. But as long as Texas gets a bigger share of the revenue pie, these problems will continue. Until Texas is willing to cede control of the Longhorn Network over to the Big 12, the Big 12 is going to lack any stability. At this point, Oklahoma's demand for a new commissioner is a prudent move; the times have passed Beebe. What the conference should have done last year is looked for a conference network that allowed a Texas Sports Network but not controlled by the Longhorns. Instead, they gave the keys to a Lamborghini to a driver so enthralled with speed that they forgot to look for other cars. What resulted is a crash of almost epic proportions.
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