It is truly a rare day when I decide to write a serious post but don't fear, I'll still curse and shit. After reading the joint ESPN and University of Texas press release about the Longhorn Network I couldn't ignore the facts any longer. And those facts point to a singular conclusion, that Texas will end college football in its current capacity.
Due to a series of strategic moves on the part of Texas, and foolish concessions from other schools, Texas is in a position that no other school in any conference has ever known. No other school can destroy a conference by themselves. Our forefathers saw fit to keep our government from having a concentration of power. No single entity can make all decisions. Thank Christ that Dan Beebe wasn't one of our forefathers. We'd probably still be British and enjoy dank beer at room temperature and soccer.
Well, like George Washington said, (and I may be paraphrasing a bit) "arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness, bitches". I simply won't stand for licentiousness from the state of Texas.
The end of football as we know it? The devil? Both? Yes, yes, and yes. Click the jump for more....
Part One- History (or if you prefer, The Setup)
Let's take a journey back it time, destination- December 2009. Before the summer of 2010, the biggest issue facing college football was the unfair treatment of the non-automatic qualifier schools. The major talk was if schools such as Boise, Utah, and TCU deserved a shot at the BCS championship game. But, Jim Delany, (Big 10 commish, large dickhead), upset that his conference was old, slow, and sucked in the BCS, let the world know the Big 10 may consider adding teams. Adding teams made sense for other reasons, though. The more teams in the conference the bigger the reach of the Big 10 Network, and adding at least one team would allow the league to have a championship game. Both of these would increase the revenue of the Big 10. Shortly after, Larry Scott (Pac-10 commish) said his conference would also look into expansion. Suddenly, change is afoot (a word I don't often use).
Fast forward 5 months, in late May 2010, the rumor mill started. Some believe that the Big 10 will expand more, to 14, possibly 16 teams. All while whispers began across the plains that Missouri wanted out of the Big 12. Yes, word on the street was ol' Mizzou, sick of making less money than Texas, (and probably sick of losing to OU in title games) wanted to join the Big 10. For academics, of course. Now, to be fair, at no point did the Missouri president, AD, or chancellor come out and say they wanted out. The governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, however, said in December of 2009 (after the Delany announcement) that Missouri should leave the Big 12 for the Big 10, if the offer came. He also offered this little nugget,
"When you compare Oklahoma State to Northwestern, when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you begin looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at,"
So, Missouri should leave for academics, not the fact that they can't win the Big 12. Well, Jay Nixon, and Missouri, fuck you. But I digress.
Let's move to June 7, 2010. Larry Scott emerges from the Pac-10 conference meetings with the authority to move forward with conference expansion. Scott and the Pac-10, ready to end their TV deal with Fox Sports (and to be true, a shitty deal), were looking to add at least two teams so they could split into divisions, hold a conference championship game, and get a better TV deal. However, Scott wanted to, and was authorized to, invite 6 teams from the Big 12 (for my friends from Mississippi, 2<6). These schools, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M, would give the conference 16 teams, making it the first "super conference" (a word that should be permanently banned from existence). It would also destroy the Big 12. Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and Iowa State, all shit their pants immediately.
Now, at this point, things are starting to go batshit crazy in the media, and on June 10, 2011, Colorado decided to give the media fodder (and the Big 12 the finger) and join the Pac-10 with or without the others. Crazy days, indeed, but about to get crazier. On June 11th, 2010, Nebraska applied for, and was approved for, admission to the Big 10. Uh oh, Missouri has no place to go. Time for Mizzou to have a press conference and pledge loyalty to the Big 12. I would say it's like rats fleeing a sinking ship, but then realizing they are in the middle of an ocean with no help, then turning around to try and plug leaks.
While all of this is going on, Texas and Texas A&M are in a pissing match (well, Texas was pissing on A&M, and they forgot to bring an umbrella. You can try and deny it Aggies, but we all remember that 72 hour ultimatum Texas gave you). A&M, tired of being little brother, wanted to break ties and go to a different conference, the SEC. Texas, meanwhile, was willing to go to the Pac-10, so long as they get their own television network. The Pac-10 however, told them to go to hell because they wanted a Pac-10 network, after seeing how well the Big 10 network was doing.
Now, at the end of all this excitement and bullshit, Dan Beebe (Big 12 commish, hated by everyone, even though they stuck with him) managed to salvage a 10 team Big 12 by using possible chaos to leverage Fox Sports and ABC/ESPN for more money, while caving to Texas' demands for their own network. The networks, worried about the bargaining power of "super conferences", ponied up the dough to make it work.
Now here is where the shit gets real, as they say. First, Texas is guaranteed to receive the most money from the conference (or at least tie for it). Secondly, they are allowed to pursue their own television network, instead of having to join a conference network as are all member institutions, but we'll get to that later. This latter concession is what will lead to the end of the current college football system.
Now, fast forward to the end, and who's happy after all of this? Well, Texas is completely happy. They get more money, and their own network. Baylor, Kansas (who thought way too highly of what basketball was worth), Kansas State, Iowa State, while getting substantially less conference money than everybody else, still receive more money than before, and get to stay in a BCS conference. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech all increased their conference allotment, while nothing else really changed (however, OU will receive about $3 million more than both OSU and Tech. Guess national championships are worth more than bragging rights after all. Well, bragging rights and being an asshole about them). Texas A&M also managed to get a slice of the big boy pie. Even after getting their cut, the Aggies, believing that they are worth what OU and Texas are (and they're not), threatened to sue the new Big 12 almost immediately if the dollar dollar bills didn't arrive on time. Missouri is pissed, and they probably should be. Sure, they survived in a BCS conference, but everyone blames them for the mess. But with that journalism school, you'd think they'd have more sway in the media. Maybe it's because having the world's best journalism school is worth about as much as the world's best art school.
What's the end result here, the point of over 1000 words? At the end of all this we have a business model with 10 partners. Of those, 7 are considered lesser partners and compensated accordingly, while 3 are considered greater partners and compensated accordingly. This model also offers no way for the 7 partners to increase their standing. If we consider the Big 12 a holding company, it has unequal revenue sharing, which has led to tension among the members. Perhaps a holding company is a bad analogy, as the Big 12 does not actually control the individual members, like in a true holding company. A true holding company would tell the 7 upset companies to shut the hell up. In this case, we have a situation where resentment and jealousy are able to breed.
A better analogy would be a polygamist marriage.
Part Two- The Present
As we sit here today, the revenue distribution of the Big 12 breaks down as follows: (from Forbes)
|University of Texas
|University of Oklahoma
|University of Nebraska
|University of Colorado
|University of Missouri
|University of Kansas
From 1818, or 2018?
These numbers are from the 2009-2010 school year. What can we gather from these numbers? (which don't include expenditures, but guess what?, the list looks pretty damn close after) First, holy sweet Christ, Texas is a fucking cash printing factory. But, seriously, Texas has become a national brand, and is a force to be reckoned with (but, and I'll get to this soon, they could have been reckoned with) Secondly, the Top 4 bring the conference up as a whole (when averaging the whole revenue of the conference, which is $35.4 million) OSU, Colorado, Tech, and Missouri all make similar money, and then the bottom four are similar. Now, basically there are 3 tiers of the former Big 12. Now, Nebraska and Colorado are gone, and the new revenue distribution model is different (yet eerily similar, Texas still on top, bastards).
Now then, we're starting to close in on a point. (but probably nobody is reading anymore. I'm just ranting to myself) When one looks at the new model of the Big 12, Texas, OU, and A&M stand to make $20 million per year (from the conference), while the other 7 schools will make between $17 and $14 million (depending on TV appearances). Well then, the schools who can fuck things up by moving (OU and Texas, sorry A&M, nobody cares about what you do) would seem to be equals (and on the field it's close, but OU has an edge in national championships at 7-4). Both make a cool $20 mil, both buy a shit ton of Texas logo's (some go up, some go down), and both have the ability to start their own network (and both are doing it). But they are in no way equals, monetarily. Oklahoma sits a full $35 million behind Texas.
Now then, on to the heart of the matter.
Starting August of 2011, the University of Texas will start a 24 hour UT sports network (kinda makes you wanna puke, doesn't it?). This will pay the University $300,000,000 over 20 years. That's an extra $15 mil per year for UT. Did you read that? Are you not pissed off? Basically, the rest of the Big 12 just got ass raped, and Dan Beebe let it happen. Everyone remember the movie Dodgeball? Well, the Longhorn network is basically the Ocho. Texas is in the sack with the evil empire that is Disney (yeah, they make kids movies, but they also own ABC and ESPN, so stop taking the family to Epcot). Sure, OU is creating a Sooner network, but who are they going to do business with? Fox Sports and Cox cable in Oklahoma? Yes, OU just signed a $75 million 10 year extension with Learfield, but for the love of God, do they expect to contend with ESPN? Now, instead of seeing some good football on ESPN, we get Texas vs Rice. Whoop whoop.
The only chance that this conference had was to band together against the mint that is Texas' athletic budget. While Texas makes, what can only be described as "mad" money, the combined revenue of the state of Oklahoma equals it.
Now, am I saying that the Sooners and the Cowboys have the same national brand power as Texas? Fuck no, but they have the money. If the members of the current Big 12 would have stood together and told Texas to cancel their network or leave, Texas would probably leave. And that, actually, would have been a good thing. It would take some doing, but losing Texas, adding say, TCU to get the Dallas area back (remember, we're talking before TCU left for the Big East), and perhaps adding someone like Houston (for the Houston market, duh) and Cincinnati, would have allowed the Big 12 to retain its footing in Texas, and expand towards the east.
But none of this matters now, it's too late.
From hell, Yasser say's "hook em"
Part 3- The Future
Let's look at the ol' crystal ball and prognosticate a bit.
The logical conclusion to this saga is that Texas will eventually go independent. Sure, some people say Texas politics won't allow the four Texas schools to break up, but Baylor and Tech and A&M are simply slowing Texas down. So let's say this happens, and Texas succeeds from the Big 12 and goes independent. OU would logically join either the SEC with A&M or head west to the Pac-10 with OSU and Tech. Now, there will be some OU fan's who do not believe that they must keep ties with OSU. That's true, but the Pac-10 has already offer OSU once, and we stupidly followed Texas (I mean, at least Colorado and Nebraska had the balls to move, and look out for themselves). I think the Pac-10 would like to expand to middle America. That leaves 5 teams scrambling for homes, and I don't think Conference USA can hold them all. They would probably distribute across CUSA, MAC, and the WAC. Hell, OSU might be there with them. But lets say OU and A&M go to the SEC, making it a 14 team "super conference", it would stand to reason that the Pac-10 would want OSU and Tech, to even the field. That would probably push the Big 10 to offer Missouri and some other school not from the current Big 12.
Now, that scenario makes 3 "super conferences", with the ACC and Big East left with their dick's in their hands. We are pushing to a world with 3 or 4 massive 14-18 team conferences, and everybody else in the cold. Considering the scandal's currently going on with players alleging payment's during recruitment, Cam Newton and Reggie Bush, even the Dez shit here, we are all heading to the same fate as the Southwest Conference. Somebody is going to push it too far and burst everyone's bubble. Now, if all this happens, there is a sliver of hope, and that's if all the super conferences blackball Texas, but I don't see that happening. Not with ESPN swinging from DeLoss Dodds balls like some Dez Bryant testicle bling.
Part 4- The Conclusion
I firmly believe that the Longhorn Network will destroy college football as we know it.
It leads to a revenue disparity in the Big 12 that is unfair and unsustainable. The reason the Big 10 and SEC are looked to as stable is because they all share money equally. There is no way that Vanderbilt is worth what Florida or Bama are. But, as a group, they decided to band together, and make things fair. Texas will only ever look out for Texas.
What I believe is, that the Longhorn Network will be the lynchpin that breaks up the Big 12, screws the BCS up (if the Fiesta Bowl doesn't beat them to it), and increases the money involved in big time college football. This will eventually lead to corruption (more corruption, I mean) and price all the smaller conferences out of the game.
Those who can't pay to play will go back to being universities with amateurs playing the sports like the old days, when a nickle bag actually cost a nickle. The rest will basically become the NFL's minor league, except for real. Hell, as it stands TCU will have to fly to every away conference game (akin to the NFC East).
What can we do about this? Well, probably nothing, to be entirely honest.
Well, Sooner fans can stop buying goddamn longhorn logos to turn upside down. For shit sake, who do you think makes the money off that? It doesn't magically go to OU because you turn that bastard upside down. The state of Texas is more proud of their desert than they are of the country they live in, and that's, quite simply, fucked up.
So really, the only thing to do is (and I'm totally ripping off a popular OU saying around October) "Beat the rush, hate Texas now". Or don't beat the rush, join it, just make sure at the end of the day you hate Texas, because they hate you- and they hate America.