There is peace in the valley–for now

They got it right.

It’s not often you can say that in college athletics because usually when there is a winner  in the sports world there is a loser or multiple losers. But in the case of conference expansion, the powers that be in college football put their heads together and got this one right.

As a result, there were a lot of conference commissioners who spent last night breathing a sigh of relief and smoking a victory cigar. That’s what happens when you dodge a bullet that could have ripped a huge hole into the body and heart of college football as we know it.

When Texas announced last night that it would stay and thus hold the 10-team Big 12 together, it allowed the sport to step back from the brink of what could have been a fundamental change in college football as we know it. Some of it would have been good but most of it would have taken on the feel of a shotgun marriage for financial expediency and survival. There would have been some winners but some proud schools with great athletics traditions–we’re talking about you, Kansas–could have been severely damaged.

You have to understand that if all of the dominoes had fallen into place, we could have had two of the six BCS equity conferences (Big East, Big 12) simply put out of the football business. That would have been an ugly and heartbreaking thing to watch for all of us who love college football. 

But in the deal that was crafted yesterday, nobody got everything they wanted but  just about everybody got something they wanted. That’s the classic definition of a good deal. Let’s run down the conference scorecard this morning:

Big 12: Yeah, they only have 10 teams now that Nebraska has bolted to the Big Ten and Colorado has gone to the Pac-10 (11). That was a good move for both schools. Nebraska wasn’t happy in the Big 12 and will get a big pay raise. Colorado more identifed with the West Coast and will have a chance to compete in football now that the flagship program in the Pac Ten (USC) has been significantly damaged by the choppy waters of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

You say the Big 12 loses its championship game? Yeah, but you need to know that the coaches in that league are thrilled. They never liked the game and now the winner of the Texas-Oklahoma game can pretty much punch their ticket to a BCS bowl. And the loser has a chance to get into the a big bowl as well. Texas used its considerable muscle to get the payday it wanted. Same for OU and Texas A&M, who used its flirtation with the SEC to make sure that the Longhorns didn’t big foot them on the finances of the new deal. Those three schools were big winners and the other seven schools in the league will get less money. But those schools, particularly Kansas and Missouri, won’t say a word. They are glad to still have a home.

And the Big 12 is not going to add two teams to get back to 12. This is the deal they wanted.

PAC-11: You have to give new Commissioner Larry Scott credit. Because his conference is rarely seen on national television in prime time, he knew he needed to do something bold. So he swung for the fences and tried to create the Pac-16. It would have been a brilliant move and would have sparked a huge bidding war between ESPN and FOX for the television package. But at the end of the day Texas got what it wanted to stay put.

The Pac-11 will add another team, probably Utah from the Mountain West. But remember that I said this: Keep an eye on Scott. He is a very smart guy. Despite the sanctions against USC, he is going to make the Pac-11 a force again.

SEC: The SEC never, ever wanted to expand but commissioner Mike Slive had to have a plan in pace in case his hand was forced. That is why he reportedly (it was never confirmed by his office) went to Texas A&M on Saturday to lay out the SEC case for the Aggies. I believe Texas A&M would have seriously considered splitting with Texas had all of those Big 12 teams moved West. But when the plan was put into place to keep the Big 12 together, A&M was staying put as long as the financials made sense.

So the SEC got what it wanted. It didn’t have to do anything. The conference still has 14 years left on its TV contract with CBS and ESPN. The SEC has won four straight BCS national championships and Alabama will be your preseason No. 1. Life is good. You don’t mess with Happy.

ACC: Breathing much easier today. There was concern that if the SEC felt it had to expand, it might look to strengthen its Southeastern footprint at the expense of the ACC. Everybody in the ACC was publicly expressing their loyalty to the league.

Based on some calls I got yesterday,  trust me when I tell you that if the SEC had added Texas A&M and was looking for a 14th team, it would have gotten very interesting for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

But a note for those who were floating Duke and North Carolina as possible candidates for the SEC: I don’t have the word skills to fully explain how wrong that was. Duke and Carolina were the holdout votes for the LAST ACC expansion. They don’t like having 12 teams now. They sure weren’t going to join a 14 or 16 team SEC.

Big East: The Big East was vulnerable to getting at least three teams poached by the Big Ten and could have been forced to break up, scattering teams like Connecticut, Louisville, West Virgnia, Cincinnati, and South Florida to the wind. As a football conference the Big East lives to fight another day.

Mountain West: Added Boise State, and that’s a good thing. The MWC may lose Utah to the Pac-11 and that’s a bad thing. It also had a chance to draft those cast adrift if the Big 12 had broken up and that sweepstakes could have included Kansas. So the Mountain West didn’t win and it will survive the loss of Utah. The league is on the way to being an automatic BCS qualifier in 2012. Now the Pac-11 could get frisky again and try to take BYU as well, but for a lot of reasons I don’t see that happening.

The Big Ten: I saved the best for last. The Big Ten didn’t get the monster fish it wanted (Notre Dame) but it did get Nebraska and all of its football tradition. Nebraska is in a small TV market (115) so it’s not a home run when it comes to increasing subscriptions  to the Big Ten Network. But the Big Ten can now have a conference championship game on the first Saturday in December if it choses to do so. And it will be huge. 

I don’t discount the possibility that commissioner Jim Delany will someday invoke the nuclear option and go to 16 teams.  But I think that is less likely right now.

After college football came so close to major upheaval and the possible destruction of two conferences, if Delany jumps back into the fray again and disrupts the peace, he will be portrayed as Gordon Gekko, the amoral financier from “Wall Street” who saw life as a zero sum game and himself as the ultimate winner. Too many people have worked too hard in the past five days to basically save college football from itself.

Today college football is at peace and Delany reads the tea leaves as well as anybody. The Big Ten stays at 12–for now.

So it’s been quite a ride, boys and girls. Of course when the next television contract comes up for negotiation, we’ll probably be having these conversations again. But for now, I’m anxious to start talking about football once more. I’ve had just about all of the high finance that I can stand.

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307 comments Add your comment

Titus

June 15th, 2010
8:41 am

Duke and UNC to the $EC…bAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHH.

Like those two fine institutions would stoop that low.

Deloss Dodds

June 15th, 2010
8:41 am

It’s good to be king.

Jake

June 15th, 2010
8:43 am

Did we over react?

quedog

June 15th, 2010
8:44 am

I am very happy there were no more changes than occurred. I believe Notre Dame will eventually wither on the vine if Kelly does not rev them up. He is their (last, next to last, there will always be a) chance.

Zeeeeeeeee Nachos

June 15th, 2010
8:45 am

SEC does not need to expand. Especially when we have a powerhouse like Jawja in our conference.

Mr D

June 15th, 2010
8:46 am

Let me get this straight: the Big 10 is actually 12 (and was actually 11 the past few years); the Pac 10 is now 11, and the Big 12 is actually 10. OK, are these conferences going to be renamed, or do I just have to remember which is which?

Balderdash

June 15th, 2010
8:47 am

Yawwnnnn. Whatever.

Mimeograph

June 15th, 2010
8:50 am

Who are all these clueless Yankees, who write Jawja. I’ve never heard a human being pronounce it that way. Jorja, sure, but jawja? Pfft. Stupid Yankees.

Doug

June 15th, 2010
8:50 am

Isn’t it amazing that a team(Texas) that has won exactly 1 NC in the last 40 years seemed to be in control of the future of college football.

You Ain't-Know Gaily Whacker

June 15th, 2010
8:55 am

Once a king always a king, but once a knight is enough.

We were saved from greed. Keep America strong–build more submarines.

uga_b

June 15th, 2010
8:58 am

I still think the former Big 12 comes out a loser. They lost the 2 best teams in the north.

Jacket Backer

June 15th, 2010
8:58 am

very glad things are staying put……Tech belongs in the ACC and i’m happy nothing is changing that….

Go Jackets!!

MMA is stupid

June 15th, 2010
9:03 am

So, now there are two conferences that cant count??? Big 12 (10 Teams) and Big 10 (12 Teams)…ughh….anyone????

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:09 am

Tony—-

There will be no peace in the valley until the Big Ten (12) and the Big XII (X) officially exchange names by negotiated treaty.

The Big 8 became the Big XII with the addition of four SWC refugees.

The Big 9 became the Big Ten when Michigan State joined.

How about some truth in college football adervtising?

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:10 am

I suppose the Pac-10 can continue to call itself the Pac-10, since Southern Cal just got neutered and spayed.

Mike

June 15th, 2010
9:12 am

And the Irish keep their independance once again!

Bologna

June 15th, 2010
9:13 am

Well they’re in the ACC titus.

No to 16

June 15th, 2010
9:15 am

It will be interesting to see what kind of results the Big Ten gets from its continued expansion study. I don’t see anything else happening for at least a year, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Big Ten will go after 2 more teams to make it 14 in the next couple of years. Personally, I’d like the Big Ten to offer membership to Missouri and Pitt. With Missouri, at least the Big Ten could attribute its name to the number of states making up the conference footprint. Pitt’s addition would also rekindle the rivalry with Penn State which I know doesn’t make much difference in SEC country, but would be huge for the Northeast. Then the SEC and Pac-10 could expand to 14 teams and we can all sit around and laugh at Notre Dame on the outside looking in.

5IML

June 15th, 2010
9:16 am

Texas played everyone the Big XII and Pac10 like drums. They are to be commended and despised for their actions.

5IML

June 15th, 2010
9:16 am

Texas played the Big XII and Pac10 like drums. They are to be commended and despised for their actions.

Tim

June 15th, 2010
9:19 am

Deep down inside, Texas nor Texas A&M wanted to come to the SEC. Texas didn’t want to play Florida or Alabama the week before or after they played Oklahoma. Throw into the mix a schedule that might have included LSU, Auburn, UGA, and UT in the same year. Yikes!!!

PTC DAWG

June 15th, 2010
9:19 am

Nobody with a brain thought Duke or UNC was in play….

I think the student athlete won this go round. I say good for them.

WB

June 15th, 2010
9:20 am

So the big 12 is now 10. i guess they will change their conf look to be like the big 10 and vice versa. no more north and south.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:23 am

You know, after the Pac-10, Big XII and Big Ten follies of this past week, I’ve come to have a new respect for Notre Dame’s desire to remain the last meaningful independent in major college football. The Big Ten has done everything short of leaving a metaphorical horse head in Notre Dame’s bed in order to bribe, cajole, threaten and extort Notre Dame to join, and still the Irish say “no.”

At some point, Notre Dame, Jim Delany and the Big Ten start to resemble Bowie, Crockett and Travis giving the finger to Santa Ana and his army. Good for you, ND! Fight on (or whatever they say in South Bend)!

Grantland Rice

June 15th, 2010
9:23 am

Tony:

Have you heard anything about Arkansas leaving the SEC to join the Big XII? Also the Big XII may add another team (TCU)?

5IML

June 15th, 2010
9:28 am

AG,

ND remains independent out of a misguided, archaic sense of importance. Besides the special BCS rules, they are in no way meaningful in college football.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:29 am

5IML—-

Texas most certainly did not play everyone like a drum. They over-reached, and they got several nasty surprises, including Colorado and Nebraska’s departure for greener pastures, Texas A&M’s refusal to join Texas’ fool’s errand to the Left Coast, and the State of Texas political establishment’s complete disapproval of UT’s proposed move to the Pac-10. Texas has engendered an awful lot of bad will among the remaining members of the Big XII (X), and when the Big XII breaks up again (and it will), no one will trust the Longhorns. Period.

Alphare

June 15th, 2010
9:29 am

Good.

The reason Texas has the saving power is money. Texas is big, and the money there is big too.

As for Texas’ football tradition, well, it’s a mixed bag. They did win a lot of regular reason games because of weak competitions. But when it comes to big stage like National Champ, it’s a UGA of the wild west (in terms of number of titles).

RxDawg

June 15th, 2010
9:31 am

Thank god…. 12 teams is great, it just works. There should be a cap on 12 just to cut back on the rampant greed.

help, I live in Ga

June 15th, 2010
9:32 am

The NCAA is still an institution that votes for a football champion at the end of the year. Get rid of the BCS and have a playoff. Then I will say that they got it right. Or maybe we are moving in the right direction like the Big 12-10. Get rid of the conference championship game to avoid having your strongest team play an extra game and get knocked out ot the mythical national championship voters gala. But the Big 10 12 is going the other direction and looking to add a conference championship. This new name game is definitely going to cause some problems.
ok, new names. The former Big 10 wich is now the Big 12 should change their names to the “Large And Slow, We Can’t Throw” Conference. That’s right, the LASWCT conference from the North.
The former Big 12, now 10 should be called “We Used To Be Three Yards And A Cloud Of Dust Till A Pirate Came In And Took Over Texas Tech, So Now We Are The Seven On Seven Don’t Know How To Play Defense” Conference. I don’t have time to figure out the anacronym on that one.

So what do you think? Any more suggestions for New Conference Names???

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:33 am

5IML—-

That’s all good and true, but I admire the stubborn streak of independence. The only thing I don’t like is the better-than-deserved deal the Irish were able to strike with the BCS. They should be treated just like any other non-AQ BCS member in terms of qualifying for a BCS bowl. If they finish in the top ten of the BCS standings, they’re in. If not, they’re not.

I’m afraid when it comes time for ND to renegotiate their NBC television contract, I’m afraid it will come to an end, however.

Big Dawg

June 15th, 2010
9:33 am

Atlanta Gator, I disagree. Bottom line, Texas got what it wanted, their own TV deal and about 25 million a year. Osborne never liked Texas and Dodds, that was certainly no “nasty surprise”.

Reptiles Rule

June 15th, 2010
9:37 am

All’s well that ends well. I don’t care what the individual motives were. College football is a big time winning formula right now, even with so many disatisfied with the BCS format. That will gradually evolve as it has from year to year. The importance is to preserve the tradition of the game and keep the regular season highly relevant. Let’s not screw it up.

RxDawg

June 15th, 2010
9:39 am

“But a note for those who were floating Duke and North Carolina as possible candidates for the SEC: I don’t have the word skills to fully explain how wrong that was….”

Ha! I was one of those people, but I admit I was just blindly tossing the idea around but only if we HAD to expand. I’m not familiar with the politics, feelings, and legalitites of some schools. In fact, I had no idea that so many academic elitists were out there thumbing their nose at SEC schools. That’s probably more jealously than anything.

I’m just very much glad it’s a non issue now.

fbfan

June 15th, 2010
9:39 am

Atlanta Gator -

You got it exactly right, from everything I have read. A&M’s interest in the SEC (and the SEC’s interest in A&M) totally astounded Texas.

TONY – Could you please inquire to learn whether A&M was given an invitation by the SEC, and if it was unconditional? That would clear up a LOT of fuzziness about the past week.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:42 am

Big Dawg—-

The Big XII (X) lost a lot with the departure of Colorado and Nebraska, including the loss of two of its better academic schools, it damaged the strength of schedule for Oklahoma and Texas, possibly making it harder to qualify for the BCS championship against undefeated conference champions from the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-10, and it completely burned any conference loyalty left in the Big XII (X). Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Texas A&M will spend the remaining lifetime of the rump Big XII (X) secretly negotiating their contingencies so they will not again be left without a chair the next time the Sixth Street music stops.

No, Texas’ failed departure from the Big XII is not a win, but they can console themselves with their extra $10+ million per year, which, as I am sure you know, is a drop in the Longhorns’ bucket.

SimpleDawg

June 15th, 2010
9:43 am

Well…..now the Big 10 + 1 can exchange names with the Big 12 – 2. Name problem solved.

Ski bum Colorado fits right in with surfer dude, tree hugger conference.

The harlot Huskers got their payday to turn tricks…..

….and Texas got their TV deal and the confirmation that they are indeed the tail that wags the dog….or maybe they’re the dog and the rest of the Big 12 – 2 is the tail. I’m sad to hear that there are no plans to add 2 teams to return to a 12 team conference. It doesn’t seem right with a couple of very worthy teams close by in TCU and Houston. I guess Texas and OU want to limit their exposure to being dethroned as the kings of the conference.

Oh well, now the SEC can continue to be the football power conference, the ACC can continue to be the basketball power conference, and the Big East can merely continue to be.

One big question: Now does the SEC TV package seem under valued in the wake of all of the threatened upheaval of college football?

naganole

June 15th, 2010
9:45 am

This is not over because the SEC will expand. They were taken aback by the lack of due diligence done by the Pac 10 offering 1/2 of the Big 12 schools. Next time expansion happens (which will be within the next 2 years), the SEC will be the conference starting it off…

UT96

June 15th, 2010
9:45 am

On a lighter note, heading up the SEC in this years Fulmer Cup, —–wait for it—-Georgia and Florida (tied at #6 in the nation).

Congratulations!

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:47 am

fbfan—-

We all have our blind spots, and UT’s Berkeley-educated president clearly has a few of his own? I mean, can you imagine a respectable academic institution that would not want to be associated with the left-wing nuttiness of Cal-Berkeley? Unbelievable!

5IML

June 15th, 2010
9:47 am

AG,

I think Texas never intended to leave the Big XII and orchestrated this entire fiasco to run off a couple of members to increase its power (if that’s possible) and money. I doubt Texas truly felt threatened by atm’s flirtation with the SEC because they knew their lil brother didn’t have the sack to strike out on its own. Regarding bad will towards Texas, everyone in the conference has hated them since the Big 8 expanded. What’s new?

You are right about ND. Once the numbers are crunched during the next round of negotiations with NBC, they will go grovelling to the Big 10.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:49 am

UT96—-

I expect a late push from a fellow SEC member. Afterall, there is a reason why it’s called the FULMER Cup. With Kiffin’s departure for an earlier-than-anticipated NCAA probation, it may take the Volunteers awhile to regroup . . . .

= )

help, I live in Ga

June 15th, 2010
9:50 am

Come on people. We need new names. So far we have: “Large And Slow, We Can’t Throw” Conference. That’s right, the LASWCT conference from the North
And the We Used To Be Three Yards And A Cloud Of Dust Till A Pirate Came In And Took Over Texas Tech, So Now We Are The Seven On Seven Don’t Know How To Play Defense” Conference
New conference names are now on the table. The floor is yours. We need suggestions. Name the new confereces. And you can’t use the word “Big” followed by a number anymore….

UT96

June 15th, 2010
9:51 am

Atlanta Gator- touche:)

T3

June 15th, 2010
9:51 am

Well, lets try this as a brief list of Winners & Losers
in regards to all this realignment talk:

Winners:
Texas (for sure)
More money; new Longhorn TV network coming; got rid of top competitor Nebraska; go to slap around IowaSt,Kansas, KanSt, Baylor, and Mizzou to keep the complainging down.

OK: Yeah, more money, and got rid of Nebraska.

And more money for the remiaing Big12 schools.

Dan Beebe, for sure.

Colorado: Better money than Big12, but PAC10 has big issues coming;
better recruiting alignment since most recrutis are from Cali anyway.

Losers:

SEC: Publicly “dissed” by Texas and OK.

IowaSt, Kansas, KanSt, Baylor, Mizzou:
They now know their merely the “fleas” riding on Bevo.

Joe Schad of ESPN:

“I have CONFIRMATION from 4 separate sources that the Big12 schools WILL be moving to the PAC10.” What a fool. Lost all credibility.

Tony Barnhart:

From “WHY TEXAS MUST LISTEN TO THE SEC” to today’s mea culpa
“THEY (the Big12-2) GOT IT RIGHT.” Lost almost ALL credibility.

No two sports reporters looked more out-of-touch than these two hacks.

fbfan

June 15th, 2010
9:52 am

5IML -

Your 9:47 post summarizes the ‘Horns party line on this, but it flies in the face of the reports that Texas really, really wanted to be in the Pac16, and would have gone there but for A&M’s refusal to go along. From that point on, it played out so that the Big12-2 “survived,” but not with just Texas and OU getting the lion’s share of the money, but A&M getting a guaranteed $20 million, too.

Here’s the Texas-biased orangebloods article which admits that BIg3+Little7 scenario: http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1094372

Will

June 15th, 2010
9:53 am

Tony:

Here is the latest from my very reliable source within the Big 12. You may recall yesterday that I reported that the Big 12 would remain largely intact in spite of the national media reporting that six schools would leave for the Pac 10.

The Big 12 wants to maintain the additional revenue from the Championship Game by adding two teams. This mostly likely will come from TCU and/or SMU and the very valuable Dallas-Fort Worth market.

Rather than SMU, Arkansas is the first choice of everyone but leaving the SEC would be a financial “step down”.

Another possibility is Houston with a remotely possible Colorado State showing a great deal of interest. Rice is not an option nor is BYU because of their Sunday prohibition.

I will update you as my source continues to dig deeper.

RxDawg

June 15th, 2010
9:53 am

“LASWCT conference from the North”

Epic

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
9:53 am

5IML—-

Yeah, and a CIA-led cabal of Cubans, gay New Orleanians and disaffected U.S. military officers really assassinated Kennedy and set Oswald up to take the fall. Riiight.

I got news for you: nobody is that good. Not even the Mission Impossible Team or James Bond (and they’re not real, either). No, Texas thought they had a hit a home run, and they barely stole second base.

UT96

June 15th, 2010
9:56 am

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