Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blaming Nebraska

When somebody leaves a job, it's only natural for the people who remain to scapegoat the person who left for the problems the organization have. Sometimes it has a basis in fact: the person who left did, in fact, leave a mess. Sometimes it's just a sloppy transition, or just people having to adjust to a changed environment.

Or what usually happens, just pass the blame on, since the person who left isn't around to defend against the criticism. That seems to be the take of Berry Tramel of the Daily Oklahoman, who says it must be Nebraska's fault why the Big XII nearly collapsed last summer.

But as soon as Nebraska went out the door, everyone started getting along swimmingly. Even voted in equitable revenue-sharing, which always was a deal-breaker for UT, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Maybe the Huskers were the problem all along.
Some lovely revisionist thinking there; makes about as much sense as the people who say that Nebraska left the Big XII because they couldn't beat Texas. Simple minds search out simple solutions, and disregard any evidence that foils their journey towards the solution they want. Hey, Blame Nebraska!
Of course, that ignores most of the preliminary discussions about conference realignment from early 2010, where Nebraska was an afterthought, at best, in the discussions. Texas was shopping themselves to the Pac-10 and Big Ten.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon was already on record in 2009, campaigning for the Tigers to jump to the Big Ten. Heck, if you believe Chip Brown, Nebraska was a non-player in all of this.  (Well, that's going a bit too far...)

If anything, Nebraska was reacting to the changing landscape of college football. They saw what their conference partners were doing, and realized that the Big XII was potentially headed for a catastrophic ending. And in the end, they found a more stable foundation.

So what changed between then and now to "save" the Big XII? Was it really Nebraska leaving?  Hardly.
It was the Pac-10 and Big Ten's rejection of Texas, meaning that Texas, in the end, really only had two options:  Big XII or Independent.  Neither the Pac-10 nor the Big Ten were willing to allow Texas to license their own television network, so that eliminated those two options for the Longhorns. So when it was all said and done, Texas knew that the only option they had left was to stay in the Big XII.

So what caused the recent burst of solidarity in the conference? Nebraska leaving?  Hardly.  Try the king sized deal ESPN gave Texas to operate the Longhorn Network. The deal came in so rich, there really wasn't much point in continuing to belabor the past issues involving the Big XII.  Texas could afford to give in on all of those points of concern, because even so, those issues pale in comparison to the pipeline of cash flushing into DeLoss Dodds office from the Worldwide Leader in Sports. And Texas does need the Big XII; they need the BCS conference membership, especially with such close rivals. It's not so much that they control the Big XII, they just know that spiting what remains of the Big XII really hurts Texas in the end. So they remain after spending their time last year feeling their oats, and realizing that they really did have a good deal after all.

Bottom line:  Texas stayed in the Big XII because only the Big XII would let Texas operate their own network and control that revenue.  Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech aren't willing to move anywhere away from Texas.  They just cannot escape them. Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, and Iowa State all are grateful to be in a BCS conference; they'll do whatever Texas asks just to avoid having to admit that they are "Proud Members of the Mountain West Conference."  ("Thank you sir, may I have another?")
Missouri, of course, desperately wants out of the Big XII and into the Big Ten...but was humiliated to find out that the interest was only one way. So for now, they remain a "Proud Member of the Big XII", but keep pining for their escape. They realize that nobody really wants them, so there they remain.

That leaves Texas A&M, who still has yearnings to break free for the SEC, if they'll have them. The Aggies are probably the wild card with the greatest potential to break up the remains of the Big XII. The Aggies want no part of the Pac-12 due to the travel issues, so it all comes down to whether the SEC wants to make inroads in the Texas television market.

And thus, this "marriage of convenience" for the ten remaining "proud members of the Big XII" seems likely to continue as long as the status quo remains. But let's not confuse true solidarity for what the Big XII is today: it's merely a marriage of convenience, and still very much fragile.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I would actually apply the "Thank you sir, may I have another" to Oklahoma. The little sisters have no where else to go. They're kind of like the nerds living in the gym because the dorms were jacked up by the jocks. They don't have much of a choice. (Yes, I know, different movie reference)

Oklahoma, on the other hand, would have choices. If not the PAC, then probably the SEC. But OU's AD basically said (paraphrasing) "We're Texas' B****". They'll do whatever Texas tells them to do, by choice. That's like Kevin choosing to join that frat, bending over, and letting Texas do them repeatedly.

Nebraska wasn't the problem, obviously. It's just jealousy. Most of the little sisters had issues, but wouldn't voice anything. Texas and OU (and honestly, even NU in the case of revenue distribution) has/had power to be bullies. Nebraska was really the only vocal one against the southern power block. How many votes did we lose 11-1? Missouri tried, give them credit, but look where they are now?

The lovey dovey now is pathetic. You're right Mike, Texas can afford it, and the little sisters go along out of fear of being a MAC, WAC, or even MVC team.