Pac-16, The Quest for Texas & The Benefits of Dissolving the Big 12
When the first talks of another round of massive conference expansion started, we knew that one thing was for certain: Texas was the crown jewel. With all the recent rumors circulating, it appears they are still the object of desire.
In some past articles, I mentioned how Texas was the prettiest girl, and everyone wanted to take their shot at her.
When if came to the Pac-10 and expansion, everyone had their eyes on Utah and Colorado…since such a move seemed within reach. But Texas was still the school the Pac-10 wanted. But the logistics just didn’t work for both parties:
* If Texas were to ever consider the Pac-10, they wouldn’t want to be isolated as the only Texas school.
* The Pac-10 would have some flexibility, and would include Texas A&M; if it meant getting Texas
Fast forward, and the latest rumors are that the proposed Pac-10/Big 12 TV partnership ideas have grown to a new scenario: the Pac-10 expanding with SIX Big 12 schools.
So how bad does the Pac-10 want Texas? So bad that they would include Texas Tech, a school that isn’t the ideal academic fit in the Pac-10, as well as Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas A&M; and Colorado. Texas Tech being included in the discussions has more to do with the politics. It is believed that Texas Tech would politically fight any move in which it was left without Texas, as per sources. Texas A&M; has less of an issue since they are an appealing option that could join the SEC on their own, or the Pac-10 or Big Ten with Texas.
Texas Tech in the Pac-16 talks is as big a concession as any conference would ever make to gain a new member. Sure, there are benefits to having Colorado, Texas A&M; and perhaps even Oklahoma. But make no mistake: the Pac-10′s willingness to even CONSIDER extending invites to these 6 schools is being done for only 1 reason…to get Texas.
The new Pac-16 would give the conference all the markets they would want to create a new network, following the Big Ten’s model of success. Divisions would be established to limit the travel and maintain rivalries:
Pac-16: EAST = Arizona, Arizona St., Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M;, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St
Pac-16: WEST: Washington, WSU, Oregon, OSU, Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA
The Pac-10 meetings are this weekend, so we’ll have some more clarity as to how much truth is behind these rumors.
The Quest for Texas:
While the Pac-10 is at the top of the news cycle right now, they still aren’t the only conference looking to make a move on Texas. The Big Ten, despite it’s slow and deliberate dealings with expansion, remains focused on Texas. Ohio St. has been the school helping the courtship of the Austin school. But it might now be enough. The Big Ten would not have any flexibility in allowing Texas to have it’s own TV network, something the school has considered. And it’s unlikely that the Big Ten would follow the Pac-10 rumored path with a potential invite of 5 Big 12 schools of Texas’ liking. Sure, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M; could be included, but only A&M; would be a school that Texas would WANT to remain associated with. If all things remained equal, the Pac-16 scenario might remain more appealing to Texas due to the membership.
And while the Pac-10 and Big Ten remain focused on the University of Texas, Texas A&M; was started a dialog with the SEC. The SEC appears willing to allow Texas A&M; to start it’s own TV network, something that might be appealing to Texas as well. But the SEC stance is an interesting one: they realize that Texas may balk on joining the SEC due to differences in the academics of the conference versus the higher level of education in the Pac-10 and Big Ten. But if Texas A&M; were to leave, it might be enough to push Texas to the SEC as well…or even grease the wheels for a move to the Pac-10 or Big Ten.
The big winner right now is Texas Tech. They seemed out of every conference scenario. But now are at least part of the discussions for a Pac-16.
The last of the Texas schools in the Big 12, Baylor, seems destined to be left behind. CUSA would be a likely destination as they would join with many of their former SWC rivals.
The Benefits if Dissolving the Big 12:
It’s rare when taking one of the top 4 conferences, discussing a break-up of the conference, and still being able to find benefits across the board. And that’s exactly what is happening regarding the Big 12.
The benefits wouldn’t just be for the member schools, but also the other conferences that would be involved.
Take some of the scenarios:
From the Big 12 to the Pac-10: Texas, Texas A&M;, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Colorado
Benefit to the schools: they current 6 Big 12 schools would remain together, they’d be joined with southwest schools Arizona and ASU in a division, they’d be part of a conference that would include almost all the top markets west of the Mississippi.
Benefit to the Pac-10: they’d gain Texas, the school they want; They’d have the markets to create a top flight TV network; Travel costs would be limited due to the new divisional formats
New conference lineup:
From the Big 12 to the Big Ten: Nebraska and Missouri
Benefits to the schools: both schools seem to want in the Big Ten due to their revenue boost as well as being associated with a conference more in their footprint. Academics come into play as well since the Big Ten is an even better collection of institutions in that regard than the Big 12.
Benefits to the Big Ten: they’d have 2 new members and would be adding the KC market as a stronger part of St. Louis. They’d also be adding another “national” caliber football program to join the likes of Ohio St. Michigan, and Penn St. The Big Ten might still expand with 1-3 other schools to get to a membership number between 14 and 16. Rutgers, Syracuse and Pitt remain on the radar. But if the Big 12 lost 8 of it’s 12 schools, there might be a chance that Kansas could be
on the Big Ten radar.
New conference lineup:
East: Rutgers, Syracuse, Penn St., Ohio St., Michigan, Michigan St., Indiana, Purdue
West: Nebraska, *Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Illinois, Missouri
From the Big 12 to the MWC: Kansas, Kansas St. (and Texas Tech if left out of Pac-16)
Benefits to the schools: No Big 12 schools would want to be left out of the big money moves to the Big Ten, Pac-10 or SEC. But if left behind, there would at least be benefits for the conference.
Benefit to the conference: the Mountain West would be in a position to absorb quality schools. In doing so, they’d likely add a BCS autobid. More importantly, the MWC would not lose any of it’s top members like Utah, BYU or TCU.
New conference lineup:
East: Kansas, Kansas St., TCU, Colorado St., Air Force, Wyoming
West: SDSU, UNLV, New Mexico, Utah, BYU, Boise St.
Hurtin’ for Certain – Big 12 schools left out: Iowa St. and Baylor
For Baylor, there is some hope. They would likely join CUSA since the Big East would likely take a school like UCF or Memphis, and open a slot for Baylor. If Texas Tech were left out of the Pac-16, CUSA would likely look at them as well…although the MWC might have the advantage.
Iowa St. is the lone school that would be scrambling for a home. They’re only hop would be that the MWC or CUSA took them in. The Sunbelt might be their only choice though. Because of this lack of options, you can assume Iowa St. would do everything legally possible to block any moves that would lead the the Big 12 erased off the map.
Other scenario: SEC expands to 16 with Texas, Texas A&M;, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.
With the rumors of the Pac-16 forming, or the Big Ten expanding to 12-16 schools, the best move the SEC could make would be to be proactive. By adding these 4 schools, they put a block on Pac-10 expansion eastward. There are few scenarios for expansion by the Pac-10 that would be profitable.
By the SEC taking these 4 schools, the Pac-10 gets ONLY Colorado and the Big Ten gets Missouri and Nebraska (although Kansas might gain some appeal). This keeps the SEC on par with the Big Ten revenue numbers, and would eventually pass them with a restructured TV deal.
The remaining Big 12 members would look elsewhere as they would be down to 5 members. Kansas, Kansas St., Texas Tech would likely end up in the MWC, with Baylor in CUSA and Iowa St. in the same lackluster position. But the advantage would be to the SEC…which would have stopped Big Ten expansion south and Pac-10 expansion east. The MWC might even include the SEC on their Christmas card list if that happened.
So the total benefits of saying goodbye to the Big 12 are endless. There are scenarios in which the Pac-10, Big Ten and MWC become stronger while CUSA gains another Texas member and the SEC remains a power. And there is a scenario in which the SEC runs the show, and the Big Ten prospers along with the MWC, while the Pac-10 remains the same. If either path is followed and the Big 12 is gone, the landscape will be stronger for virtually all parties. It won’t be sad to see the Big 12 go when so much good would come out of it.