That is what the talk of Conference Realignment is about. Protecting the brand name that has led to a revenue stream that is the envy of College Athletics. As recently as last December, Forbes Magazine listed the Texas football program as the most valuable college football team/business in the nation.
Forbes ranked the programs on three basic after-expenses "dividends": what's left to help fund other athletic department sports, what's left to help the University, and what is the economic impact on the local community from live events.
Forbes estimated the Texas football program capitalized value at $119 Million, $11 Million more than second-ranked Notre Dame.
The rest of the Top Ten were:
Conference realignment is about protecting and consolidating power. It is about expanding media revenue streams, either through conference-owned networks or national network packages. It is about getting a stronger, wider national footprint in media. It isn't just about getting your conference channel on in St. Louis or Dallas, its about getting it on in Los Angeles and Chicago and Atlanta, or anywhere else.
Which is why Texas, the top Brand in college athletics at this moment, is dealing from a position of strength when considering its future.
Success on the field combined with such factors as a distinctive mascot, distinctive color, and distinctive logo have helped Texas build a national brand.
Tim Stephens of the Orlando Sentinel has an excellent piece that explains why conference realignment is coming and why Texas is the biggest fish in the consolidation ocean.
There are several factors that are building this "Perfect Storm" for conference realignment, one of the biggest of which is the economy.
There is a growing gap among all college athletic programs between the haves and have nots. Many schools are facing drops in donations and ticket sales while at the same time having to spend more to keep up with the facilities arms race.
Thanks to ESPN and the SEC there is also a growing revenue gap among the BCS conferences as well. This financial gap will drive other BCS conferences to expand -- if they can attract programs that will enhance their brand to the networks. The depth of competition will become more important, and being able to have three or four attractive matchups each week will eventually drive conferences and individual teams to have stronger schedules.
If this all unfolds as many believe it will, the Big 12 (with its top-heavy membership) will be gutted as other conferences raid it. It will also be interesting to see how consolidation to, say four Super Conferences, also affects a possible playoff.
It would make it easier to set one up, but then again, maybe the slimmed-down BCS conferences would rather protect their regular season and BCS Bowl system -- where it controls the purse strings -- rather than take part in a playoff system where there would be billions to be made, and billions to be split among a lot of teams who don't help generate those billions.