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


June 15th, 2010
11:30 am

Texas played the whole Big 12. Sad.


June 15th, 2010
11:30 am

One more thing

Nebraska just stuck out their middle finger to Texas,
and will now earn…AT LEAST…$22+ Million/Year in the BIG10.

No way Texas is gonna take that crap and smack-talk from Nebraska.

Now that the BIG12-2…HAS BEEN TOLD…what kind of TV money
they can command WITH ONLY (10) teams, I think the odds are HIGH
that the BIG12 could just “GO BIG” right here, right now and pick two more teams.

I really dont think the BIG12 is just gonna sit there and watch the BIG10 command more money than the BIG12.

It would be bad PR for Texas and the BIG12 for Nebraska to leave
and be commanding MORE money than Texas, TexasA&M, or OK.

This “pissinng” contest between Nebraska and Texas aint over yet.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
11:49 am

In normal conferences, revenue is shared equally. Anything else is unstable and inevitably leads to disagreements, resentments and better deals from higher bidders.


June 15th, 2010
11:54 am


June 15th, 2010
11:55 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?

Mr. D:

You simply have to refer to the Big XII as “Big 12-2″ and the Big Ten as “Big 10+2″. However, if further re-alignment occurs in the future, it may be necessary to have a working knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem in order to know who or what someone is talking about with regards to these two conferences.

North Avenue Ned

June 15th, 2010
12:01 pm

Does the ACC play football?


June 15th, 2010
12:02 pm

Atlanta Gator

Spare…ALL OF US…with the …put the crackpipe down stuff.
Its old and worn-out.

Go back and look above. I ALREADY prvodided a link to ESPN
that wasnt a fan blog.

Lets use the info and numbers from the previous posted ESPN link:

7 teams X $15 Million/Year = $105 Million/Year
(IowaSt, Kan, KanSt, Mizzou, TxTech, Baylor, OKSt)

3 teams X $20 Million/Year = $60 Million/Year
(Texas, TexasA&M, OK)

As its tentatively proposed now, thats a total of $165 Million/Year
just from ESPN. And, that does not count any possible ABC-TV contract potential.

The new SEC-ESPN contract pays the SEC about $150 Million/Year.
That does not count the SEC-CBS contract money.


So, the fact is this: as of RIGHT NOW…a (10) team BIG12
can command about MORE ESPN TV money than a (12) team SEC.

Ask YOURSELF this:

“Why would ESPN or anyone else” pay $200+ Million or more per year
for the priviledge” of watching Vandy vs MissSt?

Or Vandy vs ANYBODY?
Or MissSt vs ANYBODY?

The point remains: if the BIG12 decides to go get two more teams right now, the money would DWARF what either the BIG10 or the SEC pays.

And that might persuade Arkansas to move to the BIG12.


June 15th, 2010
12:08 pm

“The point remains: if the BIG12 decides to go get two more teams right now, the money would DWARF what either the BIG10 or the SEC pays.”

That’s a bold statement. And one I really don’t believe. Moving along now…


June 15th, 2010
12:11 pm

Atlanta Gator said:

“In normal conferences, revenue is shared equally. Anything else is unstable and inevitably leads to disagreements, resentments and better deals from higher bidders.”

Not sure what a “normal” conference is.

The opposite can also be said.

Why would Florida or Bama (with a much higher level of success)
be happy about making THE SAME as also-rans like Vandy or MissSt??


June 15th, 2010
12:14 pm

You forgot one winner here. ACC basketball, which has won 9 of the 10 ACC-Big Ten challenges will now win all of them for the forseeable future. That is thanks to Nebraska basketball being added to the event!


June 15th, 2010
12:16 pm

Name a conf other than the Big12 that does not split revenue equally,


June 15th, 2010
12:18 pm

UF and Bama play in a conf that puts great teams on the field and a schedule that puts them in the BCS CG. The equal revenue sent to all teams helps majority of the teams put a respectable team on the field.


June 15th, 2010
12:19 pm


If a (10) team BIG12 can commmand MORE ESPN-TV revenue than
a (12) team SEC, then what so hard to believe about
an actual (12) team BIG12 commanding EVEN LARGER dollars?

Texas isnt gonna just stand there and watch Nebraska earn

This “peace-in-the-valley” may not last long.
than than Texas.

Paul in RDU

June 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

T3 – “As its tentatively proposed now, thats a total of $165 Million/Year
just from ESPN. And, that does not count any possible ABC-TV contract potential.”

You do realize that ESPN and ABC Sports is the same thing, I hope. There isn’t going to be any extra “ABC-TV contract potential”

Boca Baby

June 15th, 2010
12:23 pm

Pardon me but this new Big12 minus 2 looks a lot like the old Southwest Conference. Once again Texas becomes the kingpin that all the other lesser schools suck up to just to get a piece of the pie. This combination will most certainly have a bearing on strength of schedule and, in the absence of a conference championship game, leave the new alignment vulnerable to be more easily leaped over in the final BCS poll. What kind of furor do you expect an undefeated Texas to exhibit when they don’t get the final nod against a one loss SEC or Big Ten candidate? Can you say Auburn? Its not burnt orange but its close! At least “burnt” is the apropos word fitting of such a scenario.


June 15th, 2010
12:24 pm

Tell me how Colorado will be competitive in football in the PAC 10? Colorado has not been competitive for years and unlikely to do much in PAC 10 even when USC may be down.

Honky Talkin'

June 15th, 2010
12:24 pm

Thank God this has been resolved! This was an agonizing three weeks.

Old Tech fan in NC

June 15th, 2010
12:26 pm

To RxDog…before you declare the ACC champ game as unsuccessful, give Charlotte a try.

Geography at work.

Atlanta Gator

June 15th, 2010
12:28 pm


As a Longhorns fan, I am fairly certain that your inability to understand what constitutes a “normal conference” was intended to be ironic, but it is.

Paul in RDU

June 15th, 2010
12:29 pm

Why the SEC is now and always is likely to be superior to the Pac 10 + 1 +…..

Boca Baby

June 15th, 2010
12:30 pm

Old Tech fan in NC: What is the difference between a cold, wet, dreary Jacksonville and similar conditions in Charlotte? Can you guarantee pristine conditions in the Queen City?


June 15th, 2010
12:30 pm

Here’s what I think happened… texas got it’s bluff called out by Nebraska. After Nebraska and Colorado left look at the options on the table for texas. They could move to the pac 10, stay in a 10 team big 12, move to the sec or move to the big 10. Newsflash… all of those are worse than what they currently had. In any other conference they are faced with tougher competition, more travel and equal revenue sharing. By staying in a 10 team big 12 they will continue to have their wishes as it relates to revenue but they also lost a strength of schedule component. With the big 12 the way it is now you could seriously make a case that boise state has a better strength of schedule than texas does. I could easily see either Oklahoma or texas going undefeated and not making the title game because the rest of that conference is not very good.

Hard to Admit

June 15th, 2010
12:34 pm

Never thought I’d agree with the Birmingham Blow-Hard (Finebaum), but I do today. Texas never had any intention of leaving. They played everyone like a violin.

wish we had am in the sec

June 15th, 2010
12:35 pm

Would loved to have seen the sec go to 14 teams. I never liked the 16 team model. I had high hopes that texas a&m would come and give us a foothold in texas. Finally I really dont like the fact that espn and texas seem to have alot more power than they should. All I want is to see great games in the SEC every week..

[...] is peace for now in college football, writes Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta [...]

Fulton Resident

June 15th, 2010
12:41 pm

@ Doug 8:50am

Texas has won 4 NC in the past 47 years. Also, Texas has the wealthiest football boosters and athletics program in the country – and its always been that way. That is the real reason why they pull so much weight. There is alot of power behind that money.

big flippin deal

June 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

ok….so we all had something to write about during one of the slowest (unless you work for the PD on an SEC campus) times of the college football year.

who cares? it all boils down to what happens in september-december.
all the rest of it is filler.

Old Dawg

June 15th, 2010
12:43 pm

Tony: Great piece, as always. One question, do you think the Big 12 will try and attract SMU into the conference? The Mustangs were members of the old Southwest Conference and they would be a natural fit with all of the long-term rivalries from the past.

Thanks for continuing to produce great copy!

[...] is peace for now in college football, writes Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta [...]


June 15th, 2010
12:52 pm

I think its funny how all the media sources said “the big ten is REALLY after notre dame” I find that hilarious because the big ten never contacted notre dame, notre dame contacted the big ten, and the only reason anything happened now was because of the big 12 ultimatum. so who was the big ten going after? use your heads not just all the garbage your eyes see people.


June 15th, 2010
12:58 pm

Articles at both ESPN and SI seem to indicate that the new Big 12 tv deal hinges on only dividing the money ten ways, so the Big 12 will probably just stay at ten teams. (Somebody has to figure out what to do with the names.) Of course, this time yesterday the Big 12 was dead … until it wasn’t dead anymore.

I do also think the Big Ten might still go to fourteen in a year or two, but I think that will be two Big East schools or one Big East and ND. I don’t think it will be anything that will require a response from the SEC.

get the facts straight

June 15th, 2010
1:03 pm

Nebraska was the Big 8 bully. Texas supplanted them as the bully, at the same time eliminating the partial qualifier – the tool that Nebraska had so successfully used all of those years. Nebraska whined for the next 15 years. Texas is asking for the rights to their own TV network, just like all of the schools in the SEC currently have. No more, no less – if the rest of the Big 12 or whatever schools can pull it off they are welcome to give it a shot. Except for the uniforms, Nebraska is nothing but a shell of their former selves, and should be on a better playing field going against Indiana, Purdue, etc. Colorado is broke, disorganized, enjoys skiing – good riddance. College football is a business – do you actually think Texas is going to give Iowa State the same cut? If the roles were reversed, any of the Big 12, or for that matter SEC, Pac 10, etc., have nots would turn around and do the very same thing if they could.


June 15th, 2010
1:04 pm

i agree with atlanta gator.


June 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

THIS is a great example of why the SEC and PAC and Big10 should NEVER invite the University of Texas to become part of their conferences:

Via Stewart Mandel (of Sports Illustrated) on Twitter (@slmandel):

“Unbelievable. The five “leftovers” (KU, KSU, ISU, BU, Mizzou) agreed to sign over their share of CU/NU’s buyout money to UT/OU/A&M.”

Not to mention the $20 million a year guaranteed to each of UT/OU/A&M, which is millions more than the “leftovers” will get each year in the Big12-2


June 15th, 2010
1:14 pm

completely agree fbfan! I would have loved to have seen texas in any of those conferences and have to compete on a level playing ground in terms of tv revenue distribution.


June 15th, 2010
1:17 pm

TexAgs’ Liucci says A&M had firm offer from SEC w/o any strings:

“Yes, the offer from SEC was unconditional and they guaranteed they would take A&M even if they were only the 13th member”

billyliucci Jun 14 11:25 pm

LOTS of Aggies unhappy their bigshots didn’t vote to join SEC

Steve Twyman

June 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

The Big East needs Notre Dame! All their other teams are in the conference and the conference needs to make a push to get the football team to join as well. The Big east is a basketball conference, but with the inclusion of a college football institution like Notre Dame the conference will not die but in my opinion grow with the posible returns of Boston College and Miami. Catholics vs. Convicts: The Rebirth!

Realtity Check

June 15th, 2010
1:21 pm

Not a Nebraska fan but they got the shaft with a questionable call at best in the Big 12 championship game. They were at least equal to Texas and looked like a better team. If you compared the overall success for Nebraska and Texas since 1980 I think Nebraska has won More NC’s and played for the NC more times. I would think it is a good move to go to the Big 10 where the schools are treated equally and not a lackey for UT and Oklahoma.

UT(Texas) is an overrated program that has benefited from being in a three team conference. At least the SEC has had multiple champions from Auburn, Alabama, Tennesse, Florida, Georgia and LSU over the last 10-15 years so one or two teams have not dominated the conference (contrary to the Alabama and Florida talk).

Also, if Arkansas wants to leave the SEC, good riddance. This program has done nothing for the SEC in football and has not been any good in basketball since Nolan Richardson left. They would probably be a good contender in the Big 12(-2).


June 15th, 2010
1:22 pm

Bottomline: Texas is the big winner here. (Nebraska and the Big Ten also won.) Texas had no intention of leaving the Big XII and manipulated the situation to get everything they wanted. Texas came out of this mess smelling like Earl Campbell.

[...] is peace for now in college football, writes Tony Barnhart of The Atlanta [...]


June 15th, 2010
1:32 pm

So the Big 2 really won’t play but one really tough game a year on a neutral site. Awesome.

That will lead to nice epic national championship game blowouts. Perfect.

Yeah they got it right. More bowl seasons that aren’t worth watching.

The matchups get EVEN WORSE yay.


June 15th, 2010
1:41 pm

PMC, i really think texas and ou are going to have to play some out of conference games that are tough. I thought last year’s big 12 was weak and it just got much weaker over the past week. LIke I said I can see both texas and/or OU getting passed up for the national championship game.


June 15th, 2010
1:56 pm

The big 12 just got pathetic. the level of competition will diminish even further now that very little money goes away from texas and ok. meanwhile nebraskas national fan following will rake in money for the big ten and increase the competitiveness of the conference as a whole. along with a championship game. bottom line the big ten knew what they needed to make the conference better and got it, and the big 12 just signed its own conference ratings death warrant to save jobs at the league office.


June 15th, 2010
2:01 pm

Atlanta Gator,
If the ACC were to expand I would suggest U Conn and Pitt, in these two you get a great basketball school and a very good, historically great, football and a very good basketball school.

Joe Tess Fish House

June 15th, 2010
2:11 pm

Tony, you jag off……You wrote about the virtues of the SEC and stated that Texas should consider joining, then you write this, stating how great it is that Texas remains in the Big XII…..I hope you don’t get paid for your SEC nut hugging homerisim blog.


June 15th, 2010
2:13 pm

If you think the Big12-2 isn’t long for this world, you’re probably right.

From a poster at EDSBS, with a “pretend” note from Texas’s Dodds:

Dearest friends and conference “equals”:

I heard a rumor that some of you may wish to use your testicles this weekend. Please remember that they are kept in my desk drawer, and that 72 hours advance notice is required to check them out. All balls must be returned to my possession by 4 p.m. Sunday. And don’t you dare make direct eye contact when you’re doing that.


Deloss Dodds


June 15th, 2010
2:23 pm

thats pretty funny(and true). Nebraska got sick of it. whats funny is the nebraska buyout is probably only 1/3 of the tv money every school in the big 10 will receive every year. I would love to see the huskers win the big 12 this year. go onto a bcs bowl and win then flip off the big 12 as they ride towards the big ten taking a resurgent fan following with them.


June 15th, 2010
2:28 pm

Stoop that low? Stoop to the SEC? Stoop to the most powerful football conference in the country. Stoop from $78 million to $205 million. Yeah, that would be terrible.

Rich in Chicago

June 15th, 2010
2:41 pm

After this last weekend, the Big12 is an even more dysfunctional “family” … but somehow “THEY GOT IT RIGHT”???

Texas and its “special interests” have been messin’ with member institutions and college football since before the old SouthWest conference. I feel bad for the Big12 North schools… they all wish they could be Arkansas or Nebraska… Anything to get away from their “abusive husband”.


June 15th, 2010
2:44 pm

Tony, speaking of football….. UGA insiders tell me that Jarvis Jones will be soon strapping on the pads for UGA. A huge get who can provide immediate depth at LB. Look for an announcement any day. The UGA defense could be one of the nations strongest if what I am hearing comes true. Which usually it does.