6/20 - What's Happening? (Big 12 To Expand?)

Posted Jun 20, 2010

What you need to know ... what's happening in college football

What You Should Know

What's Going On In College Football?

By Alex Bausch

Holtz: ND should consider Big Ten

Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz, the coach to guide the Irish to a national championship, has had a change of heart and now believes that Notre Dame should strongly consider joining the Big Ten. If Holtz no longer believes in Irish independence, how soon before the tide turns for Notre Dame? Is Holtz in the minority? It seems like it. Holtz tells Sid Hartman of The Minneapolis Star Tribune the reasoning behind his about face: Despite the Big 12's decision to stay together, Holtz still sees college football headed toward "four or five" superconferences, with his beloved Irish being without a seat. Of course, athletic director Jack Swarbrick also said that a seismic change would force the Irish to revisit their position. It's unclear if Holtz thinks ND should say yes to Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany while the school still has options (meaning now) or wait until the superconferences are essentially in place. "I think that for the first time, Notre Dame ought to consider joining the Big Ten," Holtz told Hartman. "I never felt I would say that. But I believe that in my heart now, and I think that maybe they will." We know that Brian Kelly enjoys being an independent, but how does the rest of Notre Dame Nation feel? 

What happens if the Big 12 does expand

So we know that the Big 12 has plans to stay at 10 teams for the foreseeable future, and that commissioner Dan Beebe said if it ever does expand again it likely won't do so in the league's current five-state footprint. (Sorry, TCU and Houston.) However, that hasn't stopped Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman from looking at possible candidates to get the league back up to an even dozen. Tramel's first choice would to be Arkansas in as the 11th team, but it's hard to see the Razorbacks leaving a equal revenue-sharing league such as the SEC to join the Big 12. Then Tramel would add Louisville. Decent choice. Louisville, which has a decent overall athletics program, is from a decent-sized TV market and is a decent geographic fit. Not a perfect match but a decent one. Some other good choices according to Tramel would be BYU, New Mexico, Air Force, Memphis, Pitt and Cincinnati. It's all a pipe dream at the moment, at least until officials at the University of Texas get restless again.

Divisions still a question mark for Pac 10 Conference

In the past couple of days there have been numerous reports out of the Denver area—from Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn and league commissioner Larry Scott—about the division format in the Pac 10. Scott says there has been no decision made as to how to break up the expanded conference into divisions. Bohn said that the Buffs (along with the newest conference member Utah) were promised a spot in a South division with the Los Angeles schools (UCLA, USC) and the Arizona schools, leaving the Washington schools, the Oregon schools and the Bay Area schools (Stanford and California) in a North division."We know how they (Colorado) feel about it," Scott told Bud Withers of The Seattle Times. "(But) it's not part of our agreement." The Big Ten faces a similar problem, and hopefully these questions get answered quickly.

Superconferences could still happen

Although the expansion process appears to have died down, at least for the time being, with the Pac-12 and Mountain West both officially saying that they are staying put (along with, we assume, the Big 12), it's only a matter of time before it gets cranking again—likely with the Big Ten's next wave in six to 12 months. Or so people think. If that league tries to annex several members of the Big East, the era of the superconference may finally arrive (after much, much, much, much talk). Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, who appeared to come fairly close to pulling one off, said in a Salt Lake City radio interview: "I don't think the idea of the superconference has gone away. ... It was a very compelling vision. At some point in time, it will crop up again." Scott also said that he thought the latest round of changes is "going to be where it is for a while." But Big Ten commish Jim Delany holds the key, and if he uses it, we could be back in this same place again next June. Translation: In six months (or less), your head will start spinning again with all these types of rumors, but until then just enjoy life and more importantly college football.

Texas plan to get rid of Nebraska?

Like conspiracy theories? Here is one for you. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News relates an interesting theory: The entire six-teams-to-the-Pac-10 scenario was orchestrated by Texas. Wilner writes that Texas used the website OrangeBloods.com to force Nebraska to leave the conference. As has been rehashed countless times in the last week, Tom Osborne was a constant thorn in the side of the Longhorns, bickering about preferential treatment, about the championship game being in Texas, about the balance of power in the conference tilting south. It's been reported that many recent conference votes were 11-1 -- with Nebraska being the one. So the conspiracy theory goes like this: Someone inside Texas leaks the six-team plan to Chip Brown at OrangeBloods. Thinking the Big 12 won't survive, Nebraska runs to the Big Ten. The Big 12 leftovers, as would be expected, make concessions to Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The Horns back out of their Pac-10 near-commitment by suddenly asking for a larger slice of revenue. When the Pac-10 predictably refuses, Texas returns to the Big 12 without Nebraska, with more money, and with the ability to start its own network.

Increase in revenue

After talking with several sports media consultants and marketing experts, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News came up with a per-school figure of $13 million in TV revenue. How did he get this figure? He added Pac-12 Network, new ESPN or Fox network deal, championship game rights fees, but did not include BCS bowl payouts, NCAA tournament payouts, basketball TV deal or licensing fees (which are all included in the Big Ten's $22 million figure, which has recently been rounded down to closer to $20 million). So it's probably safe to say that, all-inclusive, the league is looking at a payout of around $15 million per school -- a substantial increase over the current total of $8-9 million. Also, it is important to keep in mind that Colorado will look to the Pacific 12 to help it pay for its Big 12 buyout.

Arkansas: No Interest in Big 12

Arguably one of the most famous writers in college football now is Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com. He is at it again, tweeting: "Sources tell OB Arkansas has definitely put out feelers about possibly joining the Big 12, but the B12 votes don't appear to be there yet." So it's possible that AD Jeff Long's definitive statement was made with the knowledge that the move could never happen, no matter how much interest there might be in making it.

Should WAC replace Boise State?

Now that Boise State has moved on to the more Mountain West Conference, where does the WAC look for a replacement? With eight remaining schools, the conference could certainly stand pat and move forward without adding a replacement – this seems like the best option and the one that most people think will happen. But for argument sake let's say the WAC decides to expand, where could it turn? Five western schools have been rumored, according to Daniel Lyght of the Fresno Bee: Montana, Portland State, Sacramento State, Cal Poly and UC Davis -- all of which are I-AA schools and would have to upgrade their programs.

New conference has 10-year agreement

For some unknown reason, and this hasn't been widely reported, although it would seem to scuttle the talk about the lack of stability of the new Big 12: During a press conference on Wednesday, Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins revealed that all 10 schools have signed an agreement to stay together for 10 years -- a detail that commissioner Dan Beebe did not mention in his Tuesday presser. If this statement is true, if there is a signed agreement and not just an understanding that an agreement will be signed -- then, depending on what the exit penalties are, it would appear that the Big 12 will be around for at least 10 years. (Ultimately there is nothing to stop a school from leaving -- especially if one school [Prime example: TEXAS] can convince a block of schools to dissolve the conference and move to another one -- but a signed agreement would at least demonstrate good faith on the part of all parties.) Translation Missouri: If you wanted/want to leave, you missed you shot, and should have already pulled the trigger.