Texas Declines Pac-10 Invitation, Big 12 to Remain
So the last ditch effort by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe seems to have been successful.
Texas has declined an invitation to join the Pac-10, which will also result in the other 4 invitations (Texas A&M;, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St) being declined as well.
After the developments over the past few days, this seemed more improbable a Hail Mary than the 76 yard 1994 pass from Colorado’s Kordell Stewart to Michael Westbrook to beat Michigan. This time, it wasn’t Michigan who lost… it was the Pac-10 and perhaps the Big Ten’s future expansion plans.
Just two days ago, when Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was hand delivering invitations to these 5 schools, it seemed that the Pac-16 was days away from being announced. Texas was the kingpin, and their decision would determine where followers Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma St would be.
But then Texas A&M; showed some good ole’ Texas pride. Stepping outside the shadow of the University of Texas, Texas A&M; spoke with the SEC about potentially joining that conference. The result would be an end to the historic rivalries with schools such as Texas and Texas Tech, along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma St.
For Texas, the Pac-10 scenario still made sense. They’d generate more money via a Pac-10 network that would be in every large western market. They’d maintain their rivalries with 3 other Big 12 south schools in the process.
The threat was that Texas A&M; would now be in the SEC, a lone member from the Lone Stat state that could possibly have a recruiting advantage over the new Pac-10 schools.
But it was the money that ultimately caused a shift in the Texas mindset.
The last ditch effort by Beebe would keep the current revenue distribution in place, one which favors Texas. And this revenue would be split by 10 schools, not by 12.
But there was also new money that Beebe brought to the table.
It’s likely that Fox decided it’s best interests were to remain a part of the Big 12 as it is now and potentially remain a partner with the Pac-10 either as a partner like they are now or perhaps with a new TV network. such a move would allow the network to encompass all 11 or 12 Pac-10 markets as well as the current 10 for the Big 12.
Had ESPN ponied up the money for a new TV deal, it’s rationale perhaps was fear of a Fox financed Pac-10 Network.
The new TV deal is estimated to be worth $17 million per school, which is what the SEC schools currently make.
But the Big 12 will also allow schools to have their own networks. So the long rumored “Longhorn Network” can come to be, resulting in another estimated $5-7 million for Texas.
When all is said and done, Texas expects to generate around $20 to $22 million dollars per season in the new ”Big 12 minus 2″.
One rumor that was put to rest was that the Big 12 would expand with BYU and Air Force, bringing it’s membership back to 12. But such a scenario would simply add two more mouths to feed, and bringing in schools that would generate less money than Nebraska and Colorado.
What’s Next for the Pac-10 & Mountain West?
With the Big 12 seemingly remaining together, it looks like the conference shifts will come to a halt at the higher levels of FBS.
Utah is expected to be invited now to the Pac-10 as it’s 12th members. This will give the Pac-10 the necessary number of schools to host a conference championship game for football. It will also provide them with the Salt Lake City market, something that will be a big help in launching the Pac-10 network. In addition to being comprised by all the “Big State U’s” from California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Colorado and Utah, the Pac-10 network will focus on some of the top media markets including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver and then Salt Lake City.
Fox is expected to be the primary target for a television partner to form a Pac-10 television network.
The Mountain West conference must have seen this coming. By adding Boise St., the conference will remain at equal power should Utah leave. Assuming the BYU & Air Force to the Big 12 rumors are completely put to rest, the Mountain West should weather the storm.
The rest of the conferences too should remain intact. With no power options out west, the Pac-10 should remain at 12 if Utah is invited.
The wildcard will now be the Big Ten. If they remain at 12, all things remain the same. If they opt to expand to 14 or 16, the conference realignment wrecking ball will come out, with conferences like the Big East the likely target. Especially since we can expect even more significant exit penalties in the Big 12 now (for schools like Missouri who wanted a Big Ten invite).