Final Thoughts on Expansion… For Now

Written June 15th, 2010 by Jim

Winner of the conference expansion sweepstakes.

It appears that the dust has settled (for the time being) on the crazy expansion frenzy that has gripped the college football world over the past two weeks.

In the end, what actually happened seems a bit mild when compared with the expectations just a few short days ago.

The Pac-10 added Colorado to bump its membership up to 11. They will almost certainly be looking to add a 12th, possibly in the next few days, with Utah being the most likely candidate.

The Big-12 lost two members and ended up with a conference that is so totally dominated by Texas that its future is cloudy already. The problems that tore apart the Big-12 in the first place (primarily revenue sharing and television rights) will most likely be magnified ten fold in the new incarnation and will almost certainly rip apart the new conference sooner or later.

Additionally, without 12 teams, will the new Big-12 even be able to have a championship game?

Without a conference title game and outside of Oklahoma-Texas, what games are people even going to watch? Good luck making money in that set-up.

The Big-12 could add two teams to make up for the losses and get a conference title game back, but who would they go to? I don’t think TCU or anyone else is going to be a national draw. On top of national exposure considerations (or a lack thereof), no matter who they add, it does nothing to improve their problems, so it will be a mess regardless.

The Big-10 added Nebraska, a top 5 all-time football program and a school that ‘fits’ in with the rest of the conference.

I think it is safe to say that the Big-10 in unequivocally better with the addition of Nebraska, most notably because of the ability to add a championship game. If you like money, the championship game is undoubtedly awesome, if you like tradition… well, we can talk about that later.

Phase two?

So while things have certainly settled down a bit, and thoughts of mega-conferences and playoff systems will have to be put on hold for the moment, there is still plenty of action on the horizon.

Most importantly, the Big-10 is back to their original 10 to 12 month time line for expansion, and everyone’s eyes will be on Notre Dame rather than Texas this time around. So rest easy, there will still be plenty of speculation on that front over the next few months.

Less importantly, as mentioned, the Pac-10 will be looking to add a 12th member, and that decision may get done in the next week or two. Utah is pretty yawn in terms of additions, but if the Pac-10 tries to go in a different direction things could get interesting once again.

Finally, let’s talk about Texas.

They were the apple of every conference’s eye during this expansion frenzy, and there is little doubt that they were in contact with the Pac-10, the Big-10, and the SEC over the past few weeks  exploring their options.

Ultimately, as Frank points out, they chose total control of less money in the new Big-12 rather than less control of more money (potentially) in the Big-10 or Pac-10.

I look at the move by Texas as an experiment. They tested the waters of moving to a new conference and basically found that they could force their Big-12 companions (those that were left) to bow to their every whim to keep the conference together. Whether or not this was premeditated is up to you to decide.

Side bar: how humiliated is Oklahoma right now?

Texas is the master and commander of the new Big-12, which is probably what they wanted all along, but how long will it last?

Texas gets to experiment with their own television network and a revenue sharing system that supposedly will earn them between 20$ and 25$ million a year (I find those numbers to be extremely doubtful, particularly long term).

So while Texas clearly benefits in the short term and will enjoy almost unprecedented control over their conference, how long will this arrangement last?

Missouri is interested in realignment, and would join the Big-10 in a heart beat… in fact, they are probably writing love letters to Jim Delany as we speak. Texas A&M very seriously flirted with the idea of joining the SEC. If Texas doesn’t play nice (which they won’t) how long before they are fed up and do make the move? Oklahoma has to be embarrassed by all of this and will be looking for ways to not seem like Texas’ lap dog. The best way to do that may be jumping to another conference that isn’t quite so pathetically dependent on Texas.

The point is, Texas may have scored big in the short term, but ultimately the conference they have created and control is almost certainly doomed to collapse. When that happens, 16 team mega conferences may be the next step.

For Texas, I have a feeling that they really don’t care. As I mentioned, this is an experiment for them. They get to control a conference for however long it lasts, reaping the benefits all the while. If the experiment fails and the conference breaks apart, they have their pick of conferences to move to (that was made resoundingly clear in the last two weeks), leaving their poor Big-12 friends in the dust.

How each conference positions itself for the inevitable collapse of the new Big-12 will be the expansion story worth tracking in the next few years. Hopefully Texas decides to play nice (haven’t they heard of the golden rule?) the next time and follows the money to the Big-10.

For now, it looks like the expansion hysteria has passed and the college football landscape is relatively unscathed. The next few years will be like the period between WWI and WWII, everyone knows that it’s going to hit the fan again, they are just not sure when. The question is: which Big 12 team will be Franz Ferdinand?

update by MaliBuckeye: The Oklahoma thing cannot be stated enough… Can you think of any other team that would say to Ohio State or another Big T1e2n program “Hey, we’ll do what you do. We don’t care that you make a lot of money, as long as you give us just a little bit.”

I can’t imagine how a Sooner fan could stomach this- They know that, even if they win the “Dr. Pepper Red River Shootout Brought To You By The Bevo TV Network” 77-0, they will still be a) losing money and b) to their number one rival.

Property of The University of Texas


  1. Ian_InsideTheShoeNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    Texas will leave eventually. Hopefully it won’t be to anywhere else but the Big T1e2n.


  2. Bill MusgraveNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Nebraska is a great addition to the Big 10. I am worried that they might go into a little funk when because of the effect that the change in conferences will have on recruiting. But I am confident that they will come back and will consistently be in the hunt for the conference/division title.

    I couldn’t agree more that the Big 12 (Little 10) is doomed for failure if(when) the super conferences appear. Unfortunately there is no reason why Texas shouldn’t man handle the rest of the Little 10. When the little 10 does break up the Pac 10, Big 10 and SEC will still have an place reserved for Texas. I can’t blame Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Baylor from going along with the plan for now. Really what choice do they have. The schools that surprise me are Texas A&M and Oklahoma (maybe OK ST). Both of these schools are powerful enough to write their own ticket. Both could get in the SEC or PAC10 right now. Texas A&M would be able to get an offer from the Big 10 as well. (Tons of research dollars, nice ranking from US news, AAU member, strong football program, sizable fan base, and access to Texas Media Markets and Recruiting). If one of these schools left I don’t think the little 9 could survive as a conference. Also I am a little surprised the PAC 10 didn’t force these people’s hand. They should have went up to Texas Tech and said join today or we offer to Kansas, and you will never get an invite. If Tech turned them down, Kansas would have no choice but to accept because once the little 10 dissolves Kansas will struggle to find a home. Ten teams is acceptable but would they stay together with only 9? If they do then the Pac 10 could deliver an ultimatum to Oklahoma St. i.e. you or Utah. Eventually they would be able to destroy the little 10.

    Personally I wish the Big 10 would have added Missouri and Kansas at the same time as Nebraska. These states just feel like Big 10 County. I saw an article that said if you can shuck oysters in your home state you are not a Big 10 state, and if you can take a 30 minute drive from you campus and end up in a corn field you are. I think there is some truth to that. I realize the goal is to get more markets because more markets = more ratings = more $$$$. But Syracuse, UConn and Rutgers are not Big 10 type schools/states. The only team in the Big East that seems like a Big Ten school is Pittsburgh, and since the Big 10 already has Pittsburgh area covered with Penn State, that is never going to happen. As a Cincinnati Alum, I would love to see an invitation offer to the Bearcats, but realize there is a better chance of Jim Delany suggesting that I should take over his job when he retires. If only Cincinnati was an AAU school, ranked in the top 100 by US news, played in a stadium twice the side, had a strong fan base (versus the current crop of fair weather fans), a strong football tradition, doubled their amount of research and, and offered a new media market they would be a perfect fit.


    JimNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Wow, great response. A few things:

    I am pretty sure the Pac 10 didn’t force anyone’s hand because they wouldn’t put up with Texas’ manipulative bullshit… that’s the strong impression I got at least. Texas seems to have this complex where they can’t play nicely with their conference mates and the Big 10 and the Pac 10 wouldn’t put up with it.

    Really, a Pac 10 with a large block of the Big 12 South would be just as dysfunctional as the current little Big 12, especially if Texas demanded special treatment, which they almost certainly did.

    Unless Texas cleans up their act I get the strong impression that the only conference that would be willing to put up with their shenanigans would be the SEC. If Texas is as bad as it seems like they are, I would be okay with that.

    As far as the east or west discussion, I agree entirely about east coast schools. I STRONGLY prefer Missouri (not so sure about Kansas) over any school on the East Coast.


    southbaybuckeye_ITSNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Texas has that attitude universally. The whole “we’re our own country” BS and how Texans think they should and can secede from the union.

    A BIG “Derpa Derr” to Texans on that one.


    JimNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Oh, and about Cincinnati, they are not an option for the same reason that Pitt isn’t an option, their region is already covered by a larger school.

    Plus, Cincinnati is a town with many sports interests, and I just don’t see the city getting behind UC football at a level that would make them desirable to the Big 10. Plus all of the reasons you mentioned why they wouldn’t work.


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    And, Cinci doesn’t belong to the AAU. That’s a prerequisite for Big T1e2n membership (with an exception being made for Notre Dame- no one questions their academics).


    southbaybuckeye_ITSNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    And Cincinnati airport is in “FLORENCE YA’LL”. Strike 9.


  3. southbaybuckeye_ITSNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Hasn’t Texas always ruled the big12??


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Yup- but now everyone else in their conference is admitting it.


    southbaybuckeye_ITSNo Gravatar
    June 15th, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    Oklahoma had a brief run before the lost o US…. won the national championship in 2004?


  4. RobNo Gravatar
    June 16th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    You know what’s funny. ESPN was reporting on this even as they were a major driver in the outcome!


  5. BlakeNo Gravatar
    June 20th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Not sure what is going to happen with the Big 12 but you Big 10 homers need to get a life (especially you overrated Buckeye fans). You may, in in the short run, win the media revenue battle, but that will help the underperforming Big 10 on the football field. Every year I crack up up watching all the 4.7 forty white guys playing in the skills positions throughout the BIG 10. As far as your concern about OU what a waste of time. Whatever conference we end up in we will still be oneone of the top progrms of all time. As for any team in the Big 10 no money grab in the world will solve the mass population shift to the South, your bitterly cold weather, or your annual bowl performance issues due to lack of team speed.


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 20th, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Welcome to the conversation- Well, I agree that the expansion stuff won’t help with the southern population shift- personally, I’m rooting for global warming. Where’s my aerosol can??

    Serious question- Is it true that Oklahoma will not be allowed to make a move to another conference unless OkSU goes with them? I’ve heard that it’s the case, given that they share the same board of regents. If so, that might make it tough for the Sooners in terms of future negotiations, don’t you think?

    I’m confident IOU will end up on their feet as well- as long as “their feet” means either another BCS loss (how the Sooners get a pass for their January collapses while the Big T1e2n gets crucified is something we’ve talked about here before) or a national title followed by probation.


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