Posted Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Better join in on our conference call

Some thoughts on the hot button topic of the day. The conference realignment talk may not interest you. But if you are a real college sports fan you should pay attention.

-On the surface it’s not sexy readingjust boring stuff driven by a yawner conference, the Big Ten.

-How serious is it? For starters I say it’s no better than 50-50 that OU, OSU and Texas will even be in the same conference two years from now. Yes. OU, OSU and Texas. Have your attention yet?

-You just thought OU and OSU could never split up. You just thought Texas and Texas A/M would always be together. Why do you think that? It’s not the law. And if it were the law, the law can be broken with the power brokers who are playing high-stakes poker in this conference realignment game.

-The conference heavyweights are Texas, OU and Nebraska. But Texas is the biggest ‘heavy.’ The Big 12 would notand will notexist without the Longhorns. Yes, down in Austin they have lots of money and lots of championships and lots of pretty girls and they have Sixth Street. All that’s appealing. But what Texas brings to the party is much more than that. Texas brings ‘households.’

-We’re talking television householdsthe TV sets in Dallas--Ft. Worth and Houston. Two of the ten largest TV markets in America. Why is that important? Simple: Consumers watch football games and then buy products from advertisers who pay networks who pay conferences who pay schools.

-The Big 12 Conference has Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Denver, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Oklahoma (OKC is only the 42nd largest TV market in the USA).

-Maybe now you understand why the Big 12 and the Pac-10 talked last week. Think TV (or really, think TV money): Pac-10 brings LA, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, etc. That’s a little better than Manhattan, KS and Ames, IA.

-Unfortunately, I believe both Nebraska and Missouri will leap at an offer to join the Big 10. Why would they leave? TV markets, stupid! The Big 10 TV money dwarfs Big 12 money.

-Nebraska AD Tom Osborne never cared for what he considers a heavy tilt to Texas and to a degree to the Big 12 South over the North. NU has denied a report that it had been offered an invitation. Missouri has not issued a clear cut denial like that of Nebraska’s, probably, because they would jump with joy at the chance to leave.

-Missouri is unhappy with the revenue sharing in the Big 12. They believeas do several othersthat Texas carries far too much weight in the Big 12. It’s been reported that both schools prefer the Big Ten’s respected academic standing--highly rated research institutions.

-Losing Missouri would cost the Big 12 the St. Louis TV market. Losing Nebraska would not cost many TV sets. But losing the Cornhuskers would  cost the Big 12 one of the most respected football programs in the history of college football. It would further remove the traditional rivalry the Huskers and Sooners enjoyed for over a half century. Splitting the two powerhouses up in separate divisions where they  would not meet every year was bad enough. Just like with OU and OSU, seeing the Sooners and Huskers not even in the same conference would be a shame.

-But that’s an example of where we are in college sports right now. TV households. TV ratings. TV contracts. And the commercialization of the student-athlete.

-I don’t like where I think this thing is headed. But that’s life in the big city. Or in conference realignment parlance, that’s life in the 42nd largest city.



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