So I am about to vent because it feels good and I want to get it off my chest. Have I done it in a dozen lengthy phone calls, yes, but I want to put it in writing. It won’t make sense, it’s stream of consciousness, no way I cover all I’ve thought and am thinking, and no way you read it all. But f*** (dude at work edit) it, here it is.
So what’s happened here? Let’s go to the beginning, what drove this whole deal. Unhappiness at the Big 12 TV contract? Guess what, it ended in a year. Like all other conferences, it would have been reworked and the price would have gone up. Did the Big 12 contract in it’s last couple years compare poorly with the brand new SEC deal? Of course. You are comparing something done years ago with a brand new deal, a deal made after college football has continued to explode into big business. Would the new contract have been up around $15 million per year per team? at least. So I don’t buy the TV contract deal. Was it the fact that teams were unevenly compensated? I can buy some of that. These teams weren’t a natural cultural fit to begin with, there is probably animosity about the impact the four (two, really) SWC teams had on the old Big 8 teams. Why was it the only major conference with unequal payouts? Valid question. Just some general strife, bad fits, and old bad blood. A general sense of unease.
Now I don’t really remember the first defection rumor, what was it? Who was it? I know CU ended up leaving first. Why? Well, CU, OU, OSU, UT, TT, and A&M were all rumored/reported to be headed to the PAC-16. UH OH, Big 12 is done. UH OH – Baylor is trying to throw their Texas political weight around. UH OH CU, you better act fast or BU will replace you in the PAC-16 and you’ll be left out in the MWC. HA HA! I’ll beat you to the punch says CU, I’ve wanted to leave anyway, the PAC-10 probably feels if they get me then they can force the other 5 in, and off we go. F you BU, I drive this short bus.
Thats what happened, right? PAC-10, led by Weinberg with a Big 12 AND Big 10 background, was making the first strike out into this alleged world of 4 16 team superconferences. They probably felt by moving first they got first pick of teams, at least thats why I think they were being that aggressive.
So CU is gone. Big 12 is done to me at that point, it’s still a conference but it isn’t the Big 12. Even with just CU gone the divisions are f’d up and you either add some chump or go to weird Big 10 style scheduling. And NU sees this and says sheit, this is real. CU went, the other 5 soon to follow. I better get my ass in gear, we hate UT anyway for old spilled milk and unequal payouts and being dictated to. The Big 10 will have us you say? A conference with the best current payout per team, a network, and huge passionate fan bases? OK. Sounds good. We don’t really increase our power within the conference but this is a good fit and goodbye to Texas University.
An aside – how bad did Missouri really take it up the rear? I hear reports they were cocky at Big 12 meetings, thought the Big 10 would come calling, etc. Were they sitting by the phone twirling their hair and packing away snack cakes with nervous anxiety?
So CU is gone. NU is gone. It ain’t nothing close to the Big 12 anymore. REports in the media, both UT puppets and others, were “UT, A&M, TT, OU, and OSU to the PAC-16”. Big 12 is done. Rumors of buyout requirements, votes needed to dissolve conference, majority rules – $10 million, $16 million – all seemed pointless because there wasn’t going to be a conference.
Now, it appeared UT was driving that group to the PAC-16. I believe that because the UT puppet media types like Ketchum and Chip Brown were putting it out there. UT never denied, neither did the other teams.
But wait, it appears A&M is expressing interest in the SEC. Reports then became “OU, OSU, TT, UT to the PAC-16 Tuesday 6/15”. Oh, and UT won’t play A&M anymore. Oh, and Emperor Dodds won’t let OTHER teams play A&M anymore. I mean, this childish sheit was actually out there in the media. Unbelievable and yet people want me to believe UT looks good in all this.
Anyway, empty threats, real threats, whatever – it’s clear UT is pissed and wants A&M to tag along. You know, that tells me UT needs and wants A&M. Also, and perhaps more likely, UT is not stupid and knows that A&M in the SEC without UT seriously erodes their in-state football domination. They actually appear to be panicking to the point of throwing childish threats out there in order to get A&M in line.
A&M is serious. A&M fans, certainly the fervent football fans, are strongly in favor of the SEC. The BOR is reported to have enough votes to get A&M into the SEC. Slive came to town to woo A&M. It was all very real. It was all very scary as sheit to UT. Who is going to crack? Is UT confident enough in their dominance and confident enough that the move to the PAC-16, with a KU or BYU or Utah, is the right thing? You know what, they weren’t. A&M drove the ship for a while. Not only have they altered UT plans, and I say that with great confidence (as an observer anyway), but perhaps Texas A&M University has thrown a wrench into the entire grand works of UT, the PAC-10 and Weinberg, and perhaps the Big-10 even, in trying to get to the four 16 team superconferences. And trying to do so first, and perhaps wrestly some of the SEC dominance away. This isn’t all coming together as planned.
UT blinks first. Like I said, A&M was driving. A&M gets with Beebe and shoves their hand so far up his rear he’s got knuckles for eyes. This part seems like a bit of fantasy, even compared to all my far-removed conjecture above: Beebe, Big 12-2 commissioner, says he has scored a $20 million per team per year TV deal. What? How? I still don’t get it, but allegedly it’s real. UT figures I don’t get my PAC-16 fantasy, I am scared of A&M in the SEC, and this is the best compromise. Let’s be honest, UT isn’t going to need anyone’s money. UT is DOMINATING the financial world and conference affiliation won’t have a huge impact on that. They are going to sell out, in the current market, versus Washington State or Iowa State, it just doesn’t matter. They’ll still be the big dog in the conference. They might even have an easier path to the national title game minus NU and perhaps minus a championship game. We f’d them a bit, but life goes on. Pretty close to status quo for them, they lost some and gained some. But now they have pressure on A&M. They’ve got the money, they have Tech and Baylor adding to the political pressure to keep everything together. It’s hard for A&M to justify any kind of move now, all they have is “I want to and it’d be fun”. You’d like to think that is enough, but it’s not apparently.
So how’d we go from 6-3 on the BOR to staying in the Big 12-2 conference? Who said what? What was the ONE thing which flipped the votes. I am not sure who pulled that string. Byrne told me on the phone he was anti-SEC, but I figured his say was about as important as mine. Another email from McKinney to a friend said that the SEC was basically the preference, at least that’s how I read it even if it wasn’t explicit. McKinney is in tight with Perry, so it wouldn’t appear they torpedoed the deal – or did they?
So how does CU and NU feel today? I think they feel OK. Maybe they got played a bit, maybe they feel they played their hand too early, but I don’t think they regreted where they ended up. Are the Big-10 and Pac-10 happy? I’m not so sure. since the Big-10 added a strong program and now has an even number of teams, and can add a conference title game perhaps, they are probably OK. They were conservative but at the same time not idle, so they’re OK.
I can’t help but think the PAC-10 feels disappointment. CU is no prize in my opinion. Oh, the “Denver market” is gained. BS. BS in the same way that the “PAC-10 has 90 million TV sets!!”, which is based by adding state populations and no more analysis beyond that. I’ve been to a few CU games in Boulder, no one really gives a crap about their football team. Denver is Bronco crazy in the Fall. CU is no prize. Since we’re on CU, how do they afford this? They can’t afford to fire their coach but they can afford to give up TV revenue (if those rumors about penalties are true and legally enforceable). Maybe they aren’t as happy as they thought. Maybe they are picking BU’s corn out of their teeth right about now.
So the PAC-10 is disappointed, UT didn’t get what they wanted fully, and A&M didn’t get waht they wanted. The Big 12, as it remains right now, is a joke conference. Now the smallest major conference. Will they add anyone? Who? No one out there replaces NU. Will their be divisions? Will there be a title game? We’ll see I guess.
And let’s get back to A&M, how do they come out of this. Increased TV revenues? Check. That would have happend in 2012 is none of this had ever occured. The Big 12, which I might add I was fine with and would have been perfectly content maintin, would have reworked their TV deal and struck gold just like the other conferences. Perhaps not quite to the same extent, but to a good degree. But anyway, magician Beebe arranged the same for the Big 12-2. Fine. That’s just the TV contract. Did A&M use their position to negotiate equal payouts for all conference members? Did A&M negotiate who we add to the conference? And if we add, did A&M negotiate new divisions such that they are separated from OU? let’s see. Color me skeptical at this point.
This brings me to my belief that all this proves A&M and UT can not exist separately. UT proved that by pulling back from the PAC-10 in fear that A&M would gain some competitive advantage. UT did not have the confidence to move alone. A&M also proved the need UT by being unable to commit to the SEC. In my lifetime, they two shall always be together. That much is clear.
You know, if none of this had bubbled up and the teams just remained calm and went into the TV contract negotiations on good terms, there’d be no anger now. The Big 12, while not everyone’s dream conference, was humming along with national champions in football, men’s basketball, baseball, men’s gold, track, etc. It’s wasn’t a weak athletic conference by any means. Some held resentments from 1995, but it was fading. But, since this circus tent got erected quite some time ago the hopes and expectations of a number of fan bases have been toyed with. Perhaps none more so that those of the Ags, and the fervent football fans are absolutely devasted at being denied access to the SEC. Threats of killing donations, canceling season tickets, etc. It’s a shame, because no one knows the full story. No one knows who the anger should be really directed at. To take it out on A&M athletics, which you are a fan of, may be short sighted. I know one thing for sure, the success of A&M athletics can never be helped by withholding funding. The athletes and coaches themselves had nothing to do with this and still deserve our support. I know this isn’t a popular opinion right now, and I understand the feeling that we somehow need to show our displeasure so such weak minded decisions aren’t reached again. But there must be a better way. And are we so sure we know the best thing for A&M anyway, or were we just thinking with out fandom heart?
What else is left? What does the future hold? An despite President Loftin’s email, is this 100% over? I know I am crushed. as a 20 year season ticket holder, I feel no excitement about football. I feel baseball and men’s basketball are unaffected, and many aren’t even thinking about that, but as far as football I feel dead. I had excitement for this season and it’s gone as of tonight. I know it will return in the Fall, but SEC news would have been a game changer. A defibrillator to the heart of Ag football. Would it have been painful at first? Would we have responded? I don’t know. I REALLY wanted to see what happened. I REALLY wanted SEC fans in Kyle and I REALLY wanted to visit SEC stadiums. It was excitement, something sorely lacking from A&M football for a decade. Sure, a few spikes of life here and there, but a very faint and irregular heartbeat.
Let’s hope for better conference payouts (i.e. equal), a couple interesting conference additions, and a better division alignment for the Ags. Let’s still have hope. Let’s find a way to get excited, because we have no choice.
Gig ’em if you made it this far. I owe you all a beer.
*footnote – I fully realize all this is formed from the very biased point of view of a A&M sports forum subscriber. Who knows if any of it is accurate, who knows if what the media reports is accurate. But I wanted to vent my current thoughts. Fin.