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College Football: Week 9 Viewing Guide

This week on “PTI,” Tony and Mike were asked which coach needs a win more, Urban Meyer or Mack Brown. They both have three-loss teams, both have been beaten at home by lesser ranked opponents, and both were preseason top five teams. Their argument came down to which fan base has the crazier fan base with the most unrealistic expectations. Both Tony and Mike chose Urban Meyer as the coach with the most heat at the moment. They’re probably right, though for the wrong reason.

It seems that every year Mack Brown gets another 9-year extension, and is currently on contract until seemingly 2035. The UT boosters, administrators, players, janitors, parking attendants, and field mice love him. The problem is, and always has been – in the eyes of students and alumni at least – offensive coordinator Greg Davis. In the early years of the last decade the phrase “Fire Greg Davis” was as ubiquitous as “Texas Fight” around the Forty Acres. For a time, those cheers quieted as Vince Young and Colt McCoy were able to compensate for poor coaching with superior talent. Today, the cries for Greg Davis’ job are as loud as ever, but are we any closer to his ouster now than we were after five consecutive losses to ou? His supporters can point to this season’s signature win at Nebraska as a point in his favor, and they can fault the inexperience of Garret Gilbert as a reason for the offensive struggles.

After last weekend’s loss, however, even Mack Brown had harsh words for his assistants, saying, “I told them if one of your guys is playing bad, I can change them. If three of your guys are playing bad, I change you.” For a coach known to always take the blame, shielding his players and coaches from criticism, those words carry extra weight and make you wonder if maybe his long partnership with Davis is nearing an end. What would it take? A third straight home loss? To Baylor, no less? Losing out and missing a bowl game? Or, has the damage already been done?

This week Baylor comes into Austin ranked for the first time since 1993, and hoping for their first win over Texas in 12 years. The Bears are also currently in first place in the Big 12’s South division. It’s hard to imagine that a win over Baylor could actually be a signature win on the season, but that is the situation we find ourselves in.

All rankings below are from the current BCS poll. Also, make sure to check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday and prime-time regional games.

The games this weekend stink, so commentary is light, but if you can bear to watch, here’s your Week 9 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 30
12:00 p.m. ET
#17 Oklahoma State at Kansas State (FSN, Comcast Sports)

The next two Longhorn opponents.

#22 Miami (FL) at Virginia (ESPN)
The early games are light on intrigue.

3:30 p.m. ET
#5 Michigan State at #18 Iowa (ABC/ESPN)

One of the day’s better games, and what should be MSU’s last big test.

#6 Missouri at #14 Nebraska (ABC/ESPN)
This game should decide the Big 12’s North division champion.

Florida vs. Georgia @ Jacksonville, FL (CBS)
Has there ever been less hype for this rivalry?

6:00 p.m. ET
#1 Auburn at Mississippi, ESPN2

The top team has fallen each of the last three weeks. Don’t expect that trend to continue, tune in to watch Auburn QB Cam Newton be awesome.

7:00 p.m. ET
#25 Baylor at Texas (FSN)

See how Texas responds to their latest embarrassment.

8:00 p.m. ET
#2 Oregon at Southern California (ABC)

One of Oregon’s final tests en route to the BCS title game.

#11 Ohio State at Minnesota (ABC)
If Michigan State goes down, the top of the Big Ten will be real interesting presuming OSU and Wisconsin continue to roll.

9:15 p.m. ET
Colorado at #9 oklahoma (ESPN2)

The night cap game has ou giving Colorado a send off from the Big 12. Over/under is at 65 points for ou.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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College Football: Week 8 Viewing Guide

If any team earned redemption last weekend it was Texas, both by avoiding a third loss and by beating a top 10 team on the road. Not to mention proving to the Cornhuskers that they weren’t the better team last December 5th. So there’s your parting gift, Nebraska, thanks for playing. The Longhorns will miss their home away from home.

The BCS standings came out earlier this week and with them a lot of analysis and grumbling about who is where. There is really very little we can glean from the poll this early as we still have half the season to play out with some big time match-ups featuring the top ranked teams. Does that mean Texas will rise to the top and play for another BCS title? No, that’s still highly unlikely, but if enough things happen, it’s possible. Let’s entertain some hypothetical outcomes to envision the best case scenario:

First of course, Texas must win out. Looking at the schedule, this could still be difficult. After a challenging game against Nebraska, they play perennial patsies Iowa State and Baylor at home the next two weeks, which should be easy street, but we thought that about UCLA didn’t we? Following those games, the ‘Horns go on the road against K-State, a team Texas historically struggles against, and then top 15 team Oklahoma State comes to Austin. Finally, after a gimme against Florida Atlantic and a short week, they host A&M which is a game never to be taken lightly.

Next, oklahoma has to lose to Missouri this weekend. For Texas to play for the Big 12 title, ou needs two losses and after Mizzou, they don’t face another ranked team until they go to Stillwater on Thanksgiving weekend. The Tigers will be one of the biggest tests for the Sooners, going on the road against a ranked team for the first time this year, and only their second road game period.

Next, Kansas State must beat Missouri and Oklahoma State. Texas doesn’t play the Tigers this year, so the net result of their game against K-State will only benefit Texas if the Wildcats win. Further, if the Wildcats lose that game, they could potentially fall out of the rankings before they play Texas. Either Nebraska or OSU could potentially fall out of the rankings this weekend with a loss.

That will get Texas to the Big 12 title game, though against who is still up in the air. Nebraska is likely to win out, but so is Missouri. After this weekend’s games, it should be a lot easier to predict.

For the rest of the country, we’d like to see Auburn beat LSU and Alabama, but lose the SEC title game to anyone from the East division. Currently, that would be South Carolina. The PAC-10 and Big Ten pose the largest obstacles in Oregon, Michigan State, and Ohio State, all three of whom have few challenging games remaining. And, of course, there’s always the Boise State and TCU problem.

This space will feature more meta analysis of the state of the BCS in the weeks to come and we’ll highlight the games to watch in hoping some of these scenarios play out.

All rankings below are from the current BCS poll. Also, make sure to check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games. There’s a lot of football left to play, so enjoy the roller coaster. Here’s your Week 8 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 23
12:00 PM ET
#7 Michigan State at Northwestern (ESPN)

Northwestern actually has a chance in this game. They’re playing at home, and they have some advantages on the stat sheet. It might not be enough, but they could give the Spartans a run for their money.

Iowa State at #19 Texas (FSN, Comcast Sports)
Texas returns home and hopes to keep the momentum going. It isn’t their style, but putting up about 60 points and really get that offense in gear wouldn’t be a bad sign.

3:30 PM ET
#6 LSU at #4 Auburn (CBS)

This is the game of the week. Les Miles is getting killed by everyone for the way he’s running this team despite their undefeated record and being three years removed from a national championship. Auburn has hardly earned any credit at all. Something’s going to give.

#13 Wisconsin at #15 Iowa (ABC/ESPN)
#16 Nebraska at #14 Oklahoma State (ABC)
Georgia Tech at Clemson, (ABC/ESPN)

These are your regional games this weekend. Most of the country will not see the Big 12 match-up and it looks to be one of the best of the weekend. On the flip side, most will see how the Big 10 is shaping up which will give some clarity to the rest of the season. Oh, and there’s a dreadful ACC game that no one wants to watch.

7:00 PM ET
#8 Alabama at Tennessee (ESPN)
This is likely to be a drubbing, but Alabama has not played well on the road and a home victory would make the season for Tennessee. Keep an eye on the first half in between the afternoon and later games.

8:00 PM ET
#1 oklahoma at #11 Missouri (ABC)

As mentioned above, Texas needs Missouri to win this game. This ou team has weaknesses, barely surviving at home against Air Force, and eeking out a win over a terrible Cincinnati. Most people don’t agree with ou being at the top of the BCS standings so it’s up to Mizzou to prove them right.

10:15 PM ET
Washington at #18 Arizona (ESPN)

Your night cap game this week features two teams that could stand in Oregon’s way of an undefeated season. Check it out if you’re not passed out by now.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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College Football: Week 7 Viewing Guide

Despite Texas’ struggles, this season is beginning to shape up to be something exciting. An upset here or there is just the prescription to cure the fever of the status quo. This week has more games that have the potential to be great.

The rankings listed here are from the AP poll until the BCS poll begins next week. Check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games.

We’re jumping right into the Saturday games. Pick your spot and settle in. This is your Week 7 Viewing Guide.

Saturday, October 16
12:00 PM ET
Boston College at #16 Florida State (ESPN)

BC is struggling, losing three straight, and now they travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State who just went on the road to beat Miami. Things don’t look good for the Eagles in this one, but the Seminoles are suddenly surging and looking like the legitimate Florida State teams of a decade ago.

#21 Missouri at Texas A&M (FSN, Comcast Sports)
If you haven’t had a chance to see what the Aggies are looking like this year, here’s as good an opportunity as any. They host Missouri, who could be a potential Big 12 North champion if they hold on to the momentum they have now. The road from here gets harder for the Tigers as they face oklahoma and Nebraska in the next two weeks.

Remember to check the coverage maps to see which channel carries the following regional game in your area.

3:30 PM ET
Texas at #5 Nebraska (ABC/ESPN)

For the third consecutive game, Texas plays in the mid-afternoon time slot, but this time the nation is fortunate that both of the regional games will be shown in every market. Nebraska is always a difficult game, and after last year’s Big 12 title game you can be sure they will be looking to prove that they rightfully belong back at the top of the conference. With two weeks to prepare, Texas has a good opportunity to bounce back and take the Huskers down a notch before they defect to the Big 10.

#15 Iowa at Michigan (ABC/ESPN)
The other regional game is a Big 10 match up. Iowa has been impressive all year, stumbling only on the road against Arizona, and Michigan has Heisman candidate Denard Robinson lighting things up. Check in once in a while and see what’s going on with these two teams.

#12 Arkansas at #7 Auburn (CBS)
The afternoon SEC game should be a good one, so consider putting it on your DVR for later.

4:00 PM ET
Brigham Young at #4 TCU (Versus)

If you haven’t seen TCU this year, flip over to this game during breaks in the Texas action to see how they look.

6:00 PM ET
#10 South Carolina at Kentucky (ESPN2)

Kentucky has ruined hopes before, but something says South Carolina knows who the better team is in this game. The Gamecocks made a huge jump in the polls this week, so they should be feeling good.

7:00 PM ET
#1 Ohio State at #18 Wisconsin (ESPN/ESPN3D)

Heading into primetime, we have another Big 10 contest, this one between two of the best in the conference. Wisconsin is one of the only teams that could legitimately stand up to Ohio State and really throw the BCS doors wide open (much to TCU fans’ delight).

9:00 PM ET
Mississippi at #8 Alabama (ESPN2)

Alabama mercifully gets to return home to lick their wounds and rebound after their first loss in almost two years. Don’t count on an upset here, but it’s worth noting Ole Miss has won four out of their last five games against ranked teams.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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College Football: Week 6 Viewing Guide

Well, last week was once again unfortunate. So, as Longhorn fans hope for another 10-win season and a respectable bowl invitation, we can still enjoy the best games each week. Texas is mercifully off this week, but there’s plenty else to keep you entertained.

The rankings listed here are from the AP poll until the BCS poll begins in mid-October. Check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games.

Settle in for some indifference! Here’s the Week 6 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 9
12:00 PM ET
Indiana at #2 Ohio State (ESPN/ESPN3D)

Ohio State is easily rolling along through their schedule. Don’t expect an upset, but this is an opportunity to see one of the best teams in the country.

3:30 PM ET
#1 Alabama at #19 South Carolina (CBS)

Alabama looks unstoppable based on the way they’ve dominated so far this season. Yet they struggled the last time they went on the road against a ranked team, needing a second half comeback to pull off the win against Arkansas two weeks ago. You can bet the Ol’ Ball Coach picked up some pointers he hopes to exploit.

Check the coverage maps to see where to find which regional game will be on in your area. The regional games this week include:

#11 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (ABC)
If you can catch it in your area, A&M facing Arkansas at Cowboy Stadium should bring back Southwest Conference memories.

#17 Michigan State at #18 Michigan (ABC/ESPN)
Michigan hosting Michigan State will finally be interesting again, especially with one of the most exciting QBs in the country under Rich Rodriguez’s tutelage.

Clemson at North Carolina (ABC/ESPN)
Once again, ACC country gets a horrible game in the mid-afternoon regional lineup.

7:30 PM ET
#8 Auburn at Kentucky (ESPN2)

Auburn is yet another SEC team that’s rolling right along and looking like a legitimate threat to Alabama’s hopes for SEC domination this season. Auburn will be looking for a little payback going to Kentucky having lost to the Wildcats at home a year ago.

#12 LSU at #14 Florida (ESPN)
Urban Meyer should have asked Nick Saban for a safe word in last week’s throttling. Either the wheels have fallen off or the Gators will be looking to make a statement against unbeaten LSU.

We also have a pair of regional games in the prime time slot:

8:00 PM ET
#23 Florida State at #13 Miami, FL (ABC)

The history in this game makes it intriguing to watch every year. This is the rivalry that brought us “Wide Right” and Jenn Sterger. Both teams are on the upswing for the first time in what seems like forever so it’s nice to finally have some meaning in it once again. If you’re east of the Rockies, this will be your game.

Southern California at #16 Stanford (ABC)
For those on the West Coast, you get the PAC-10 matchup. Both teams took their first loss last week, and the memory of the drama following last year’s Stanford win is surely fresh in everyone’s mind.

10:35 PM ET
San Jose State at #21 Nevada (ESPNU)

Your night cap game this week gives you a look at suddenly surging Nevada. Could they pose a legitimate threat to Boise State later this year? Take a look for yourself.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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College Football: Week 5 Viewing Guide

After last week’s debacle in Austin, any hopes the Longhorns had of making it to the national title game went out the window. Nonetheless, there is still the prospect of playing in a BCS bowl game and for the Big 12 title. With this week’s game against ou, and Nebraska in two weeks, Texas has the ability to redeem themselves in a hurry. The ‘Horns have fallen considerably in both polls, to #21 and #16 in the AP and Coaches polls, respectively, but those rankings mean little when you’re out of the title hunt.

At this point it’s all about conference domination, but just for fun, we can hope for a late season run and focus on all the help we’ll need along the way. With more teams to root against, the rest of the season should be interesting.

The rankings listed here are from the AP poll until the BCS poll begins in mid-October. Check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games.

Now let’s get to it. Put on your “hater” hat and follow the week 5 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 2
12:00 PM ET
Louisiana-Monroe at #10 Auburn (ESPNU)

Auburn should handle business at home against an inferior team, but this game will do little to move the needle for them.

No. 16 Miami, FL at Clemson (ESPN2/ESPN3D)
Both of these teams will be playing their first conference game of the season. Expect this to be a good game with Clemson trying to make a statement at home.

3:30 PM ET
#21 Texas vs. #8 oklahoma (ABC/ESPN)

The Horns’ path to redemption begins in Dallas this weekend. Reference EyesOfTX’s game preview here. Note: This game will not be shown on TV in the mid- and south Atlantic regions. Check the coverage maps to see where you can find it in your area.

Virginia Tech at #23 North Carolina State (ABC)
Another regional coverage game. A Tech loss here only weakens Boise State’s case for their lofty ranking.

#11 Wisconsin at #24 Michigan State (ABC/ESPN)
The final of the regional trio this week has highly-ranked Wisconsin going on the road. Michigan State is getting a lot of credit for the way they’ve played the last few weeks, and they’ll prove they’re worthy of it if they knock off the Badgers. Their head coach Mark Dantonio will be coaching from the booth as he returns from the mild heart attack he suffered two weeks ago.

Tennessee at #12 LSU (CBS)
Keep an eye on what’s happening in Baton Rouge and hope for a major upset. LSU head coach Les Miles is beginning to take a lot of criticism, let’s hope it’s merited.

#19 Michigan at Indiana (ESPNU)
Michigan is finally getting on track for the first time since head coach Rich Rodriguez took over the team. A conference road game could be just what we need to see them lose their way again.

8:00 PM ET
#7 Florida at #1 Alabama (CBS)

This should be one of the better games of the season. From the standpoint of a Texas fan, there is no good scenario with this game. Both teams will remain ranked higher than Texas despite who wins here or what happens in Dallas. That said, the lesser of two evils would be for Alabama to roll on and knock Florida back a few slots, leaving the status quo at the top of the SEC for now and hoping for some other spoiler down the road.

#9 Stanford at #4 Oregon (ABC/ESPN2)
This is a similar situation to the aforementioned game, and ‘Horns fans should take the same position as before and hope for the higher ranked team to hold on to that position for the time being. The PAC-10 is usually a cluster, so it’s foreseeable that both of these teams will lose at least one more time as well.

Washington at #18 Southern California (ESPN2)
Ah, USC, how we’ve loved to hate you for these last few years. But now that you’re bowl ineligible, you can play hero. By wreaking havoc throughout the conference, USC can determine the fates of many teams this year, without taking a bowl spot for themselves. Let’s hope for an undefeated Trojans season going into their final game against UCLA on December 4th and then getting crushed.

8:05 PM ET
#22 Penn State at #17 Iowa (ESPN)

It would be easy to hope that Penn State could knock of Iowa on the road thereby removing one higher-ranked team from Texas’ path, but a victory like that would be one to vault the Nittany Lions over Texas in the rankings. For the time being that might be acceptable, being that the Big Ten has a way of knocking off all of its teams on its own. With this game, Iowa begins a four game stretch of ranked opponents and then still has to face Ohio State in late November. Penn State’s competition is more spread out and their one loss to-date was on the road at #1 Alabama. Hope for Iowa to win this one knowing that they’ll likely fall again in the next few weeks.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing weekly viewing guide contributions to EyesOfTX.

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part II: The Stretch To The Bible Belt

Now that we’ve covered some perspectives on why Texas should stay apart of the Big 12 Conference, Eyes Of TX contributor and former Blue & Gold staffer, John Haynsworth, will take his perspective on why Texas should leave the Big 12 behind, and follow the road signs north to the Big 10 Conference.

View from the Big 10 Conference
By: John Haynsworth
To be honest, I was a little disappointed when Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds told the Associated Press the university did not intend to explore a move to the Big 10. Of course there would have been several hurdles – political and geographic among them – to clear in order to pull of such a move, but I believe it really could have worked out for the best for Texas, not only for the football program, but for all sports within the department. Here’s why:

The rivalries.
I want to quickly debunk the myth that Texas’ long-standing football rivalries would suffer with a move to another conference. Let’s remember that Texas v. oklahoma was a rivalry long before the Longhorns and sooners settled into the Big 12’s South division in the fall of 1996. If Texas and oklahoma could be bitter rivals as members of the Southwest Conference and Big 8, respectively, then why would it be so hard to resume a non-conference rivalry in the future? Further, I honestly believe oklahoma would welcome a shakeup within the Big 12 that might allow for a renewal of its once-annual rivalry with Nebraska while still maintaining the Red River Rivalry.

As far as the A&M series is concerned, is that even a rivalry anymore? Sure, there are more than 100 games of history within the series, but Texas has won more than twice as many games in the series (75-36), and the Longhorns are 10-4 against the Aggies since the inception of the Big 12. If anything, the series has digressed from a rivalry game to a trap-game for the ‘Horns. As such, is it really necessary to maintain on an annual basis?

Specifically addressing a possible move to the Big 10, Texas football would trade ho-hum regional match-ups for intriguing national games that would include trips to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. I think those three powers, with their 100,000-seat stadiums more than make up for the loss of Tech and A&M on an annual basis and Big 12 North teams such as Nebraska or Colorado twice every four years.

The return games would be huge as well. I don’t know about many of you, but for me, Texas’ home schedule has left a lot to be desired in recent years. Aside from Ohio State, I can’t think of one intriguing non-conference matchup at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since 1998.

Imagine a schedule that includes: Oklahoma annually, rotating home and homes with Texas Tech and A&M every four years, and then a home and home with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every four years. Granted, Texas would have less room on its schedule for the likes of Wyoming and Louisiana-Lafayette, but I could live with that.

National exposure.
Texas doesn’t really need the exposure boost that a move to a more national conference would provide. After all, the football program has risen to the top of Forbes’ list of college football’s most valuable programs, dethroning perennial revenue king Notre Dame in the 2009 rankings.

What Texas has done with a predominantly state-centric consumer base is nothing short of impressive. But the next frontier is growing the brand outside of the state’s borders.

And while that wouldn’t do much for football, I believe it would help immensely with a basketball team that is fighting to earn a place in the national spotlight. Consider this: according to Forbes, the Big 12 and the Big 10 are currently tied with five teams among the top 20 most valuable. However, according to Forbes’ basketball research, the Big 12 is hardly to be found. There are five Big 10 teams on a list dominated by the ACC, and just one Big 12 team – Kansas.

Oh, by the way, other populous state universities such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin made both of Forbes’ football and basketball lists.

Stability of the Big 12?
Texas isn’t the only program considering its options with other conferences. Several media reports over the past few weeks indicate that Big 12 North members Colorado and Missouri would both be receptive to overtures from the Pac-10 and the Big 10, respectively.

For the sake of argument, if those teams leave, what options does that leave the Big 12? Out west, the conference might look to replace Colorado with perhaps Boise State, BYU or Utah, but those are lateral moves at best from the Buffaloes, despite some of their recent successes on the gridiron. Besides, such programs would face some of the geographic hurdles that Texas would face moving to the Big 10, though those programs are far less equipped, financially, to endure such a move.

Regardless, there are very few, if any, moves that the Big 12 could make to enhance its conference from a competitive standpoint in any sport across the board, either men’s or women’s, if any of its members leave for another conference. Granted that doesn’t have much effect on Texas or the Big 12 South, but I think that Texas has to consider its place in a league that might have nowhere to go but down, especially if other conference start raiding the Big 12’s cupboard.

Good academic company.
Texas’ revenue sports – football, basketball and baseball (which breaks even) – have little room to turn up their noses at any other program’s academics. None of those programs graduate even 50 percent of their student-athletes.

Having said that, the athletics department should have an obligation to do what it can to enhance the university’s academic reputation, which is notable nationally. A move to the Big 10 would put Texas in good company with other reputable public institutions.

According to the latest release from the US News & World Report, the University of Texas (tied 15th) ranks highest among the Big 12’s schools among the nation’s best public colleges. They would be fourth in the Big 10 behind Michigan (4), Illinois (tied 9th) and Wisconsin (tied 9th). In all, seven Big 10 members rank in the top 25 of the nation’s best colleges, while just two Big 12 schools (Texas and A&M) earned that distinction.

Additionally, as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) – a common thread among all current Big 10 members as well as a primary criteria for any future considerations – the University of Texas’ commitment to research would certainly mesh well with the academic mission of the conference’s current schools.

The money.
Let’s be honest, the money will ultimately determine whether Texas stays or leaves the Big 12. As reported by the Associated Press, Dodds is looking all the way to 2015 for the Big 12’s TV payday. Why wait, especially considering the money that would be on the table today?

“Big 10 schools clear $9 to $10 million more annually in TV revenue than Big 12 schools,” Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News recently reported. “Every SEC and Big 10 school receives a larger annual conference payout than Texas gets from the Big 12. Yes, that includes Vanderbilt and Northwestern. As Texas took home $10.2 million from the Big 12 in 2007-08, every Big 10 school was enjoying around $18.8 million.”

You do the math on a difference of roughly $8.6 million dollars over the next four seasons until the 2015 renewal year. Could $8 million a year make up for the difference in a bus trip to Waco, TX vs. a charter plane to State College, PA?

I’m not convinced that the Big 12 will ever be financially competitive with the likes of the SEC and the Big 10. I don’t know what that ultimately means for wins and losses on the playing field, but Texas has an immediate opportunity to strengthen its financial grip of the rest of college athletics. In the current landscape of college athletics, money does a lot of talking, and at some point, it is certain that Texas will want to be the big fish in a bigger pond.

My conclusion is that the Big 12 is on shaky ground at best. And while Kansas is a competitive basketball program, and oklahoma is a competitive football program, there isn’t enough star power from the conference’s assembled members. Texas should consider a move to a more established, profitable conference. While the Pac-10 is intriguing, I don’t think it benefits Texas to expand west. The eastern time zones are still the king of coverage, and would do more to further thrust Longhorns athletics into the national spotlight.

Tomorrow, stay tuned to Eyes Of TX for the final installment on the conference re-alignment series, as “Keifer Nandez” evaluates a potential move to the Pac-10 Conference.

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part I: Hangin’ Spurs in the Big 12

In this topic series, Eyes Of TX (along with blog contributors “Keifer Nandez” and John Haynsworth) will assess the rumors flying around on Texas’ potential move to another conference. Since we’ve initially heard the hub-bub flying around, there has been little shared and lots of speculation. We’ll plan to add our own to the mix, starting with why Texas should stay put in the Big 12 Conference today.

The first question is, why would Texas stay or leave the Big 12 conference? Well, that question is easier to answer. Money. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) currently dominates the annual money haul from the major TV networks, splitting $242 million/year in media revenue among its 10 member schools. Compare that to the Big 12 Conference, which splits $78 million/year between its 12 schools, although schools that get more television coverage benefit from that additional revenue stream (i.e. Texas over a school such as Iowa State). And, finally, the Pac-10 Conference which divides its $58 million/year between its 10 institutions. You can see the obvious discrepancies.

Within the Big 12, Texas does bring in the most TV revenue at approximately $12 million annually. But, when compared to every team in the SEC, Texas makes half of their totals. Think about that for a moment. Vanderbilt, long a major football wannabe, makes double what Texas does from TV dollars, and does it without having gone to a bowl game in decades. The standard the SEC has set in media revenue dollars is extremely high.

If you’re a conference commissioner anywhere outside of the southeast United States, you’re desperately searching for a way to even the playing field. Literally. The SEC’s TV contract doesn’t expire for another 15 years – that’s guaranteed, substantial cash flow that even the U.S. government would be jealous of. The Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10, and ACC all face TV contract negotiations after the 2011-2012 season, and that makes time of the essence when it comes to how much money will be left to go around.

Will Texas, or other Big 12 conference members, re-align to help chase down the SEC’s lottery-like dollars? Will other conferences begin their own dedicated television networks to compete? Could we see the evolution of four “super conferences”? To truly understand what options Texas and those other major conferences we’ll take a deeper look from the perspective of the Big 12 (below), as well as the Big 10 and Pac-10 in coming days.

View from the Big 12 Conference
By: Eyes Of TX
There is plenty to be said about the Big 12, and Texas’ role in keeping the conference together. The perspectives below focus on why Texas should stay in the Big 12 Conference, as opposed to leaving for the Big 10 or Pac-10…those will be covered in the coming days from guest bloggers. Let’s dig in to it.

The rivalries.
What makes college football great? The rivalries! The intense hatred of that cross-state school that didn’t let you in or whose team beat yours last year. It’s bragging rights. It’s rub-it-in-your-face, we’re-better-than-you, do-things-your-parents-would-be-ashamed of-to-the-visitors kind of psychological warfare on and off the field. Think about not having the annual Red River Rivalry of Texas v. oklahoma, or the Thanksgiving match-up pitting Texas v. Texas A&M. What about other Big 12 rivalries – Kansas v. Missouri, Nebraska v. oklahoma, oklahoma v. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech v. whoever they choose to play that week? Rivalries are key to the passion and excitement of the game. If those long-term rivalries disappeared, the potential money that’s goes with them is gone too. ABC and ESPN coverage of some of those rivalry games, for example, brings in substantial media revenue to those schools, and drives visibility for the conference as a whole. To lose that income would be an epic failure on the part of the conference athletic directors.

Keep Texas athletes (hopefully) in Texas.
Every year, there are approximately 370+ student athletes at the high school level who have enough talent to play football at the next level. Right now, Mack Brown and his staff can take approximately 20-25 of those kids each spring. That means, a large number of those in-state athletes look elsewhere in the state, or look beyond Texas’ borders to play college ball. It’s natural you’ll lose some kids to other powerhouse schools, but many of them grow up idolizing local institutions.

If Texas were to join another conference, they potentially open up the recruiting trails in to their own backyard. So, instead of competing head-to-head with oklahoma for Adrian Peterson’s talents, for example, Texas might have also had to fend off a USC or an Ohio State. Given Brown’s focus on getting talented in-state kids, there is little doubt he’d want to make it open season for other major conference schools to come calling. In other words, he’ll continue to try and win recruiting battles over oklahoma and Texas A&M, rather than teams in the Big 10 and Pac-10 conferences as well.

As Johnny Cash says, “I’ve been everywhere, man…”
Texas is a big state, and the Big 12 Conference as a whole covers a lot of geography, with teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. That’s basically the bread basket of the entire United States. Right now, Texas plays in the Big 12’s South division, which means every year, it plays at least 5 games (oklahoma, Oklahoma state, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Texas A&M) between the Texas and Oklahoma state lines. In addition, they swap in two North division opponents each year from the other remaining Big 12 teams. That means, Texas’ season schedule (excluding non-conference games, which are primarily hosted in Austin anyway) keeps the team relatively close to home and in the television markets where Texas Longhorn interest (and viewership) is high.

By moving to the Big 10 or Pac-10, Texas increases its travel at least five-fold. Trips to Seattle to play Washington, or to University Park, Pennsylvania, to play Penn State? Those are long flights with a lot of dollar signs attached. And, as an athletic director, you want to see dollars coming in, not going out the door. While the draw of those “new” in-conference games might draw additional TV dollars, it might not benefit any of the schools involved as much as one might think when expenses are taken in to consideration.

The Texas brand.
Let’s not forget what Deloss Dodds has done in his time as Texas’ athletic director. He’s built the UT athletic department, especially men’s athletics, in to a dominant program across all major NCAA sports – football, baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming & diving, etc. And, the women’s athletics programs benefit from that success as well. In essence, Dodds has helped make Texas in to a literal money-making machine for the city and the university. In fact, the football team alone brings in enough money to support every other sports team (men’s or women’s) at the university – and it sustains itself. Dodds has worked his business magic with advertisers, donors, and sponsors to make the Texas experience and brand stand out.

What happens if Texas loses its hold on the brand and its market by moving to another conference? In other words, Texas has a good thing going in the Big 12 conference: they get the most TV coverage of any team, they have the best brand and most advertising dollars incoming, and (admittedly or not) they help dictate the direction of the conference – what’s to keep them from saying, “We like the status quo because it benefits us the most?”

Eyes of TX’s conclusion? Simple. Could Texas make a move? Sure. Would they? No, not unless the Big 12 pantry gets raided in a big way. If other teams begin making a move, expect Texas to pick up discussions with other conferences to play catch-up – and, hopefully it won’t be too late. The worst case scenario for Texas is to end up in a conference that fills gaps with the likes of a Rice, Houston, SMU or UTEP. Honestly, no one wants to see the Southwest Conference again.

More perspectives to come tomorrow (Big 10) and Sunday (Pac-10) – stay tuned for more, or share your thoughts on what conference Texas should end up leaving or joining!

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