Big 12, love ya, babe!
If Texas is college football God (just ask us), then it is a God of the Trinity.
The athletic department, the fans, the university. We just found out who the Holy Father is when it comes to setting the course for saving (selling) our conference salvation.
The fans are the Spirit. Crucial, but assumed as an ethereal constant and taken for granted no matter the spiritual terrain, largely ignored in all of this. The Son, surprisingly, is the University. Right now both are wondering: Father, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?
Anyone doubt as to whether you can buy an indulgence* from this church?
*sponsored by Taco Bell
Let's talk winners and losers...
Hi, we're the Joneses
Longhorns, Inc had a big win. Longhorns, Inc is the corporation that runs the entity of Texas athletics, marginally linked to the academic University of Texas, with some or little interest in Texas Longhorn fans beyond the eyeballs they put on televisions, the apparel they purchase, and $2000 end zone seats. Longhorns, Inc doesn't exist without the two aforementioned, but like our political class in Washington DC, it creates its own independent, assertive reality.
In one fell swoop, Longhorns, Inc eliminated the mewling Cornhuskers and their Cornhusker Kickback welfare demands around which other Big 12 schools liked to rally, terrified the remainder of the conference members with a glimpse into the apocalyptic post-world without Texas: imagine The Road, with more cannibalism; lost meaningless hackeysack baggage in Colorado, sweetened the revenue divisor from 12 to 10, asserted their dominance over the rest of the league - Oklahoma wisely showed its belly early, A&M late, and the league's weak sisters are now kissing our hands like Iraqi troops surrendering to Wolf Blitzer.
Longhorns, Inc - under the auspices of the Big 12 - even shook down the networks like ESPN and Fox and the NCAA to force a more lucrative television deal, so that we don't set in motion the inevitable process that leads to the NCAAs extinction.
Most crucially, Longhorns, Inc now has smooth sailing to establishing its prized baby - the Longhorn television network, and has assured itself of its full slice of the revenue pie. Now matter where we go now, the new arrangement must accommodate our television rights.
Chris Plonsky's Delusional Self-Regard
If there's anything funnier than Texas Women's Athletic Director Chris Plonsky holding forth on the realignment conference call like a big cigar, bloated in self-regard - or even being present at all - it likely involves a banana peel positioned behind a fat Mexican man on a burro with a vaselined ass, and a sprinting Mark Mangino.
The irony was rich. In a call dedicated to explaining why we're maximizing revenue generation at the expense of good times, a bureaucrat from a federally mandated money drain weighs in. Remind me again, Plonsky, how your tasked programs, which we invest enormous resources in and offer state of the art facilities, funded by football, are doing outside of volleyball? We support women's athletics, but be thankful the scrutiny being visited on our mens' programs isn't placed on your underachieving mix.
Get off the dole, clean up your own house, and show me some banners. Until then, DeLoss likes his coffee with Sweet N Lo.
Job Security & False Achievement
Mrs. Beebe may just be able to get that condo in Grand Cayman she wanted after all. And the Big 12 offices can continue updating their website statistics speedily within 120 hours of a game's completion.
This is the old SWC. The Big 8. Coaches like it. Athletic directors like it. It's great for job security. The lower tier teams round robin 8-4 and a bowl every other year (see entire Grant Teaff Baylor tenure) and the dominant teams don't have to burn calories on a weekly basis. Any Longhorn fan cheering the new arrangement better not have criticized Boise State for its weak schedules and padded resumes.
Similarly, the notion that an undefeated Texas will always get picked to play for a MNC with a SOS around 50 is laughable and proof that the Top 10% rules are really churning out dumber graduates from my alma mater. Or that if picked, we're adequately prepared after playing a slate of stroke victims. You're the kind of person that likely gets an ego swell from defeating your seven year old niece in arm wrestling.
Little Brothers, Retarded Cousins, Molester Uncles
Ultimately, they come out as winners though they've been taken down a notch and Big 12 have-not whining will now grind to a halt. Missouri was used by the Big 10 like a $20 Kansas City whore, but Texas swept in and saw their hearts of gold. We're going to Lubbock together, honey. Just you wait. Little white picket fence. Kids. Vagina tightening laser surgery.
Kansas was humbled to find out that elite basketball means almost nothing since tournament money goes straight into NCAA coffers. Football drives the show, Jayhawks. They. Did. Not. Expect. That.
KSU and OSU would have vaporized from national attention and likely had their land reconquered by Indian tribes. Texas Tech was about to join the SWAC and have kids from Muleshoe participate in step shows. Baylor was going to schedule Liberty and Bob Jones U so they could experience being the hippies for once.
Now they all have a lifeline. For now.
This meant millions of dollars to them (10 million per if the new numbers are to be believed), the kind of money Texas misplaces and finds later in the wash. But without it, these schools were in dire financial straits, paying salaries and facility bonds they couldn't afford, not to mention the prestige drop of the Mountain West and Conference USA. Their gratitude will last at least a solid week and a half. Bask in it now.
Nebraska bettered its situation, on balance. Nebraska punches well above its revenue generating weight class and wants to be paid like it. The problem is when they run into a true heavyweight like Texas and get knocked out, they get all quivery lipped. Now they're playing in a quality league bathed in Eastern media attention and traditional powers, they've finally found benefactors willing to cut welfare checks that outpace their own individual revenue generation, and they polished their historical national brand as a football power.
A good rule for real estate and academics is to own the sorriest house in the best neighborhood. Nebraska did that in the Big 10 and this will have huge implications for the growth of that university academically. Good on them. I wish them well.
As for football, the Huskers are a national brand and they never relied on any one stomping grounds. People point to them being shut out of Texas, but so what? The Huskers have always relied on Midwestern beef and speed from California, Florida, and the inner-city Rust Belt. Texans have never been their historical core. And if I'm a Bottom 50 of the Top 100 Texas kid, I'd still rather play for the Corn than most of my other options, television be damned.
The Big 10
I'd say more bad than good in terms of what their ambitions were. As reasonable as the move was for Nebraska, it does little for the Big 10 except to add a quality name program with some resonance in the minds of college football fans and pollsters. They're dividing the revenue pot by another team, a team that contributes 700,000 television sets in its core base. The Big 10 end game was Texas or Notre Dame. Nebraska is a fine consolation, but they had to compromise academics and revenue.
The University of Texas
This is where I went to school. I have my degree from here. It doesn't say Longhorns, Inc on my diploma.
For the life of me, I can't figure out why academic partnerships are forged through athletic conference affiliations, particularly those across state lines, but they are. The school had a chance to build academic partnerships, collaborate in research, shake down the Feds for research grants, and establish visiting professorships with academic equals and superiors like Cal, UCLA, Washington, and Stanford. If you're an engineer, you should be weeping right now. Hard science, the humanities, the arts - they would have all prospered under this arrangement and our academic brand would have grown materially and perceptually.
To offer some context, USC is often mocked in California for its snooty private school status and for a student body derived from UCLA and Cal rejection letters, but they'd easily be one of the top 3 academic schools in the current or old Big 12. California state government as a whole is run by twelve year olds, but the UC system is the one thing that they do very right.
Now The University of Texas remains in an academic league roughly comparable to the SEC - you remember the SEC, that conference possibility we couldn't possibly entertain because it would diminish our academic brand and we'd be forced into the street agent game? You remember them right? Well, now we're in a place that's totally...similar. But instead of playing Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Tennessee, we're playing Iowa State and Baylor.
The Texas Longhorns
This is the third part of the Longhorn Trinity. The Holy Spirit. The fans.
Let me write this slowly: The. Texas. Longhorns. Are. Not. A. Business.
We should be run as a business, but we are not a business. Maximization of profit isn't our only endpoint. This is supposed to be fun. Seriously. Fun. And interesting. We've now lost the two best road venues in the league and the 10 team full conference slate now assures us of frequent visits to some of the most depressing venues in the Corn Belt.
Columbia, Missouri - by all accounts a fine little college town, but not exactly Paris - is now our road gem. Our fans can look forward to road trips to Ames, Stillwater, and Manhattan over Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Eugene, and Phoenix.
Explain to me exactly what this current move did for Longhorn fans? Fans. Me? You? Us? Not Longhorns, Inc.
The Pac 10
They didn't take Colorado because they coveted Colorado. They took Colorado to break up the Big 12, counting on Texas to eschew the Big 10's geography and demographic trends, ignore the SEC's sleaze, and make the natural move. They guessed wrong, even though it was the percentage play. People calling Larry Scott an idiot are demonstrating their own deficient IQ. The guy had to make a play to invigorate the Pac 10 and this would have been a game changer. That said, they now have watered down a weak revenue stream even more and will need to add a 12th team in order to create a conference title game just to generate a break even. That team won't bring television sets either.
This isn't over though.
Your power brokers don't deliver
I'll elaborate more here in another post, but Texas A&M's bizarre psychology in relation to Texas, its own internal battles between parochial good old boys and the younger generation, and its inability to serve its best interests as an academic institution were on full display. Their whole reasoning and posturing came off as small time. Go your own way or don't. Shit or get off.
The notion that they couldn't even entertain a Pac 16 because the West Coast has people that don't know who Robert Earl Keen is and that Blue Staters will turn their children gay revealed an incredibly insular mindset amongst their power brokers. Similarly, their SEC delusion was fun while it lasted. Yes, they were trying to date you to meet us. Sorry.
Do yourselves a favor, put Gene Stallings on the ceremonial banquet circuit where he belongs and start listening to the Aggies in their 30s and 40s who broke 1000 on the SAT when the school actually developed academic standards. Old Aggies are mostly dumb Aggies. Can Aggies not say this? Longhorns have no problem pointing out who our mouth breathers are.
It's simple. Get Texas in your conference. Get Texas recruits. See Kansas. See Mizzou. Throw in the fact that Arizona is actually a fun place with good weather and co-eds that are niiice and you've got Top 25 programs in three years. UCLA would gravy train that as well.
That's the whole point of the proposed Pac 16. Those who think it's just adding some schools to the weak Pac 10 and nothing really changes don't understand how Texas (the school, its passion, the money, and its athletes via recruiting pipelines) invigorates the football cultures of all it touches. Throw in the passion and tradition of Oklahoma, a bunch of swaying Aggies, and even the lunatic couch burners in Lubbock and you've suddenly created a critical mass along with Oregon, Cal, and USC that will push the great underachievers like UCLA and Arizona State into gear.
Voila. You've got a real athletic property that owns the current and future population mass of the United States and you've set yourself up with like peers academically. Money, attendance, prestige, network attention follow. Culture is malleable. Football schools become, football schools go away. Thus it has ever been. Same with football conferences.
However, just as Barking Carnival has been playing Cassandra telling you that realignments are coming soon for over three years (the first place you ever read the words Pac 16 was here years ago...but Chip Brown broke the story!), the same incomprehension shared by college football fans of that fact when it actually happens is no different than how the schools themselves refused to embrace a bold vision when it was offered. They chickened out. Texas went for money, the short term play, and dominance; A&M postured and then fled for the skirts of comfort and familiarity.
We punted. Don't worry. Its not over. We'll be discussing this again when we get our ball(s) back.