Big 12 Lovefest? Not So Fast
As we’ve seen over the past few weeks, the Big 12 has made it clear that not only is it the conference of the Plains States region and the state of Texas, but it is the conference of drama, egos, and inferiority complexes.
With last nights bevy of press conferences, we were supposed to accept on the surface that “everything is swell”. We were to walk away with the general perception that a minor roadbump had occurred in the marriage of the member schools and that the schools, one that would be forgotten 50 years from now when the Big 12 is still in existence in it’s present form.
For the past year, we’ve looked at the Big 12 as a family our of a present day Americana tragady:
* Texas the patriarch and primary breadwinner of the family.
* Oklahoma the powerful matriarch who generates her own income
* Texas A&M the oldest son who resents father Texas
* Missouri the attractive daughter who is always winking to the smart & financially set (and diversified) neighbor to the north Big Ten and the rich proper southern gentleman, the SEC.
* Oklahoma St., the son from Oklahoma’s first marriage to the Big 8, connected to mother Oklahoma regardless of the marriage between Oklahoma and Texas
* Texas Tech, the lesser son of Texas’ first marriage with the SWC, who due to promises to Texas’ forefathers, would almost certainly be tied to Texas no matter what happens in the family.
* And a bevy of unplanned children in Baylor, Iowa St. Kansas and Kansas St. who on their own offer little, unable to contribute to the family as much as the other 6 schools.
And based on the press conferences and statements out of Oklahoma and Missouri last night, we are supposed to think that this American story is one we can all relate with: a family in turmoil who overcomes all the obstacles to make things work and secure a happy future.
Just like something we’d see on on Lifetime Network.
It’s a nice story, but it’s an incorrect interpretation by us all.
The story of the Big 12 isn’t one made for Lifetime, it’s one that is more appropriate for Animal Planet.
This isn’t the story of a happy human family in turmoil, it’s the story of an angry wolfpack, with pack members fighting for dominance, challenging the status of the Alpha, and not caring what happens to the ecosystem around them in the process.
Texas is clearly the Alpha. It was Texas who held all the cards last year when the Pac-16 almost happened with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Texas A&M.
Texas A&M is the nearby subordinate to Texas, knowing that there is very little they could do to ever gain the level of respect as the Alpha and opting to leave the pack to get out of the Texas shadow. It does not matter that they are leaving so much history behind. Leaving is the only way to find their own identity.
Oklahoma isn’t the matriarch, they are the angry #2 in the pack. And since alone they do not have the ability to take out the alpha, Texas, to take over leadership, the only thing they can do is knock Texas down a bit in the eyes of the rest of the pack.
It is these 3 schools that laid the foundation for what has happened over the past month. Texas greed via the LHN network, inferiority complex by Texas A&M and Oklahoma contributing to the problem with threats of leaving.
And when you’re conference leadership, those 3 powerful schools, act that way…it transforms this pack of animals into the closest thing we have in our own present day American society: jealous and petty businessmen, as we saw with the proposed Baylor legal threats on the SEC/TAMU.
So now on 9/23/11, we are to believe all has been resolved and unity is not just on the horizon, but is on fact in place.
But not so fast.
The 6 year Tv rights forfeiture is something that effects all conference schools, but primarily Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, as the 3 only schools who have opportunities in some form to improve by “moving up” a conference rung. Oklahoma St. being tied to OU puts them in that category too. Again, it seems like another move by Oklahoma to pull Texas back as opposed to putting itself forward.
One thing is for sure. No matter how you look at it, no matter the intent, there are again clear winners: Iowa St., Baylor, Kansas and Kansas St. These 4 schools had no options but to step backwards if they were left out of the Pac-16 or SEC14, as joining with Big East schools would not come close to generating the revenue of these core Big 12 schools.
As for the future of the Big 12 membership, at least in the near future, here’s what we can expect to see:
* Big 12 members are interested in expanding to 12 to secure stability in the event that any members do leave (the same flight risks of Texas, Oklahoma with OSU, and Missouri).
* Texas is less interested in expanding to 12 because it would mean splitting the Tier 1 and Tier 2 TV revenue by 12 mouths instead of 10.
* Networks have let the Big 12 know that if the conference replaces Texas A&M with either BYU or TCU, that the value of the contract will remain as is and not take a drop.
* If the Big 12 were to add 3 schools to get to 12, it is unknown if the networks would improve their revenue payouts in a manner that would create equal per-school revenue as it is now.
* If the networks are willing to give the Big 12 the same amount by replacing Texas A&M with BYU or TCU for #10, one could hypothesize that if the Big 12 added BYU, TCU and say Louisville for 12, that there could be flexibility in increasing the total value of the contract so that the per-school revenue would remain the same as it is now. Plus, this would generate the ability for a revenue rich conference championship game.
* Again, Texas seems less interested in 12 than other Big 12 members, so it is unlikely to happen unless the per-school payout to Texas were to improve (meaning status-quo is not favorable to Texas)