If someone ever put together a highlight video of the new Big XII Conference, the soundtrack would have to be Yakety Sax. My goodness, the story just gets weirder and weirder each and every day. Can the dysfunctional family that is the Big XII be salvaged? Strangely yes. Despite Dan Beebe's negligence and Texas' arrogance, the Big XII makes sense for most everybody left in the Big XII. I never really bought into the idea of Oklahoma in the Pac-12; it doesn't really fit. But in the everybody-for-themselves world of the Big XII, everybody is desperate to find some foothold.
How does the Big XII survive? Well, no matter what Tom Shatel says, Dan Beebe has to go. Heck, Fake Dan Beebe is more qualified, even after a 12 pack of Danny Dan juice. The Big XII needs new leadership - someone who can take charge of the entire motley crew. A Larry Scott/Jim Delaney type. The other concession that will be necessary: dismantling the Longhorn Network. It's like toxic sludge or nuclear waste, destroying conferences and relationships. Texas knows this, as the Big Ten, ACC, and Pac-12 (twice) have made it clear that those shenanigans will not be tolerated. Texas knows they have two options: Big XII or independence. (Though don't be surprised if the Texas to the Big East rumor gets floated...) And Oklahoma has made it clear that LHN can't be part of the Big XII going forward.
Tonight's announcement that the Pac-12 isn't going to expand for now might force everybody back to the table...but it doesn't solve the Big XII's problems. It's more like a temporary restraining order. Everybody is waiting for the next opportunity to bail until something - anything - changes.
Good move for UNO to move Maverick basketball to the new Ralston arena. It sounds more economical than playing at the Civic Auditorium, and frankly, my perception is that Ralston is closer to the campus (especially the South Campus) than downtown. Will UNO ever build their own arena for hockey? I still have mixed feelings. A campus facility would be nice, but I get the feeling that UNO can't afford the size that UNO hockey needs. I still think that Dean Blais will make a UNO hockey arena infeasible; if UNO hockey starts regularly drawing crowds greater than 10k-12k, there is no reason for UNO to build an arena.
If it wasn't for lawsuits, I get the feeling that there would be an independent league team playing downtown next summer. Might even have started this season, for all we know. But MECA got themselves into a mess with the Northern League that's going to hold this up for another year. Could an independent league team make it downtown? That's debatable. Certainly not a team in a league like the Northern League, which almost makes the Big XII look viable (even with Dan Beebe in charge). But the American Association is another matter entirely. You've got regional rivalries (Sioux City, Lincoln, Kansas City) with reasonable travel. The schedule likely meshes better with Creighton and the College World Series.
Is it going to be as good of a product on the field as AAA baseball? Heck no. But the owners of the AAA baseball team that used to be in Omaha have reminded us time and time again that the vast majority of minor league fans don't care about the quality of play on the field. It's about the experience and the surrounding atmosphere. That's a double edged sword for independent league baseball in Omaha. On one hand, you've got a gem of a ballpark downtown that's conveniently located, with ample parking, bars/restaurants, and businesses to help drive traffic nearby. The people will come downtown. But on the other hand, one thing we've learned from Alan Stein and company is that they won't allow anybody to outpromote them. It'll be tough to build an environment downtown that exceeds what's happening out at the Trailer Park...because the bar has been set very high out in BFE.
But considering the attendance out west this year, don't dismiss the idea of independent league baseball. There's a reason why attendance at the Trailer Park didn't increase anywhere near what the average new ballpark does.