When the history of college football is written, June 10-11, 2010 will be remembered as two very important days. Today, in fact, could end up being one of the most significant days in the history of the sport. Here is where I think we are this morning:
1. The Pac-16 deal is not done yet. Colorado has left for the Pac-10 (a good move). Nebraska should announce today that it is leaving for the Big Ten (another good move for Nebraska but not for the Big 12). There have been various reports that if those two things happened, five other current members of the Big 12 (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) would leave to go to the Pac-10. That deal is not done yet because….
2. Texas must listen to what the SEC has to say: Texas and Texas A&M officials met on Thursday in a attempt to salvage the Big 12. They didn’t find a way. That could certainly still be done by bringing on TCU and another worthy school. But I talked to several people last night who said there is a rift developing between Texas and Texas A&M over where to go if the Big 12 breaks up. Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne wants to listen to the SEC. Former Alabama coach Gene Stallings, who lives in the area, is a member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents and tells Byrne that the SEC will be a much better fit for the Aggies. Would the political class in Austin allow the Longhorns and the Aggies to go in different directions?
Sorry, Baylor. You had better hope that the Big 12 stays together. By inviting Colorado seperately, the Pac-10 has effectively squeezed the Bears out of this process.
3. There is a potential deal breaker out there for Texas and the Pac-10: Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds has long talked about setting up the Longhorns’ own television network for those events not covered by the bigger network packages. The Pac-10 financial model, which will look like the Big Ten’s, would not allow for that. The SEC will point out that in their league, schools are allowed to have their own networks and to keep the money they make. The Pac-10 could make some financial concessions to Texas to take this into account.
4. The SEC will not feel threatened by a Pac-16: Even if Texas comes on board and the other Big 12 schools follow to form the Pac-16, the SEC will not feel compelled to expand. But if the Big Ten, which is expected to add Nebraska today, goes to 16 then the SEC will have some very tough decisions to make. A report by Teddy Greenstein in the Chicago Tribune said that the Big Ten could potentially double the money earned from its TV deals and Big Ten network if the right five teams are brought into the league. So if you’re an SEC fan, keep your eye on the Big Ten. Also if you’re an ACC fan, keep your eye on the Big Ten. Because if the SEC feels it HAS to expand and the Texas schools are not available, the ACC will become vulnerable.
5. The Big Ten could have one last card to play with Notre Dame: It goes something like this. Nebraska comes on board to expand the footprint to the West. Then the Big Ten raids the Big East for Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh to lock up some Eastern markets. There is one slot left to form the Big 16. Notre Dame can fill that slot but the Irish brass has to ask for it. Notre Dame will understand that if it shows no interest, the slot goes to Missouri. How would you like to be Missouri and have to sweat that one out? A couple of weeks ago it looked like Missouri was a lock for the Big Ten.
One bonus thought: Almost lost in the shuffle of these events is the fact that the USC football program was almost put out of business yesterday. The loss of 30 scholarships over three years, with a cap of only 15 a year, is huge. The NCAA wanted to send a message. And it did. And of course all the parties involved–Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush–are shocked, SHOCKED, that these sort of penalties could be handed down.
The NCAA didn’t give USC the death penalty, but it was close.
And by the way: After what happened yesterday with the football and men’s basketball programs at USC, how in the world does athletics director Mike Garrett keep his job?
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