For many Texas fans, as long as that “gold” isn’t referring to USC’s school colors, and more along the lines of a wealthy investment in a super conference, that’s okey-dokey. Both Eyes Of TX and contributor John Hanysworth have given compelling reasons for Texas to stay in the Big 12 or join the Big 10, respectively, the past two days, so now let’s see what contributor “Keifer Nandez” and the left coast Pac-10 have to offer Longhorn nation (or vice versa).
View from the Pac-10 Conference
By: Keifer Nandez
Before we start, a disclaimer: As a life-long Pac-10 follower, I’m ignorant of much of the history of the Big 12 (or the Big Eight for that matter). So, if something sounds ludicrous, it’s because the Pac-10 (including myself) is poorly educated about things like conference divisions, conference championships, and good TV exposure. Bear with me as we explore the issues in play for Texas to make a move to the Pac-10.
TV. More importantly, the money that goes along with it.
It’s easy to forget that this means more to all involved than just football. But make no mistake, it’s football that’s driving all this talk of expansion. The SEC, with its 13 teams and $3 billion dollar TV deal, has guaranteed that even its have-nots (like Vanderbilt) are pulling in anywhere from 80-100 percent more in annual TV revenue than even a top Big 12 team like Texas. Did you hear me? Vanderbilt gets twice as much TV money each year than Texas!
However, the Big 12 uses an uneven distribution model; the teams that are on TV more often get the most money. Texas benefits greatly from this arrangement, routinely getting one of the largest pieces of the Big 12 revenue-sharing pie. The Big 10, on the other hand, distributes money evenly, the single largest motivating factor for a school like Missouri to make the jump.
The Pac-10 currently has a horrible TV deal with Fox Sports which expires after the 2011 season. By jumping on board a conference which may be about to strike it rich with a long-term TV deal (or possibly its own network), Texas could potentially double its television revenue.
What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
The Pac-10 is considered by many to be a secondary league, one that’s not as important or compelling as the other power conferences. For some time now, the message has been that the Pac-10 (at least in terms of football) is USC, sometimes Oregon, and everybody else. Adding Texas to the fold immediately increases the profile of the conference nationally, and has a chance to improve the overall quality of play. Just by bringing in another top-tier school, you could argue that USC won’t have such a firm grasp on the elite West coast talent. In addition, it’s likely that homegrown Texas talent will look beyond the borders of Big 12 for a place to call home. Texas helping to turn up the Pac-10’s national exposure brings us back to point one: more TV money for everyone.
Academic and cultural fit.
The Pac-10 presidents are a snobbish bunch, and wouldn’t dare allow a non-research university lacking a strong reputation in the world of academia into the conference. Boise State, Fresno State, or even BYU don’t fit the mold. Utah and Colorado make the most likely candidates, and have much to gain. Colorado, for instance, is in the same financial boat as Missouri, only theirs is full of holes and slowly sinking, and Utah is in the Mountain West. Texas has strong athletics coupled with respected academics, and would slide right into the Pac-10 culture.
In the last two years, the greatest distance Texas has traveled for an away game is to Laramie, Wyoming – that’s about 800 miles by air. Seattle, where the University of Washington makes its home, is more than twice that distance. I think we all understand the difference between a 2-hour and a 4-hour flight. How much does this matter? I have no idea.
The lure of the unknown.
As we discussed before, the Pac-10’s upcoming TV deal is an unknown quantity. Texas could potentially look at this opportunity to help create “SEC West,” where we play a more attractive brand of football than the “3 yards and a cloud of dust” method popularized by Ohio State’s Woody Hayes, and seemingly still held in high regard by much of the Big 10, Rich Rodriguez and Michigan’s new spread notwithstanding. The addition of another top-quality program has the potential to push the Pac-10’s blank check beyond 9 zeroes, and maybe finally get everyone to shut up for 5 minutes about “SEC Speed.”
Eyes Of TX note: In an article in USA Today, University of Washington athletic director Scott Woodward has noted that he believes both the Pac-10 and Big 10 have already reached out not only to Texas, but also Texas A&M.
In addition, he postured that the Pac-10 could be interested in taking more than two teams for expansion, and said when all of the conference re-alignments are concluded the six BCS conferences could be down to four. “It could be two, four or a merger with the Big 12,” Woodward told USA Today. “There’s a theory that at the end of the day there’s only going to be four super conferences. Now what it’s going to look like, God only knows.”