Sunday, June 12, 2011

One Year Later, Remaining Big XII Schools Try to Rewrite History

It's interesting how people perceive things after the fact. This weekend marks the one year anniversary of Nebraska's epic switch to the Big Ten Conference, and with the switch less than three weeks away, everyone seems to be more comfortable with the situation. Certainly Nebraska fans are pleased with it; new rivalries and no pay-per-view broadcasts for football games. But by that same matter, Nebraska fans probably haven't fully realized what they've lost, like close opponents like Iowa State, Kansas, and Kansas State, which made for easy drives for fans. That'll come with time, I guess.  Maybe when in five years or so, when that seven hour drive to the Twin Cities or that nine hour drive to Champaign/Urbana starts getting a little old.

But I get the feeling that in the remains of the Big XII, denial isn't just a river in Egypt. Lots of revisionist thinking going on over there, as those "proud members of the Big XII" keep trying to convince themselves of just that. Take Missouri, for example. Eighteen months ago, they were the first Big XII school to actively shop themselves around...and eventually found that only the Mountain West and the Big East were the only interested parties. So are they "proud members" now? Of course they are now after they didn't even win Miss Congeniality last summer.

Particularly humorous was this interview with Dan Beebe by the normally level-headed Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily-Herald. (I nearly did a spit-take on my laptop when I read the headline about Beebe saving the Big 12.) The chuckles revolve around the Big XII's new TV deal with Fox, with games all over the dial (Fox Sports Net, where it gets pre-empted by baseball, basketball, and hockey in major markets), FX (where nobody looks for sports programming), and Fox College Sports (does anybody get this on cable anyway?)  Yep, the Big XII is going to make more money than they used to...but the SEC is already reexamining their deals with CBS and ESPN, and the Big Ten goes back to the well in a few years as well.

It's still a somewhat fragile relationship, formed in large part on rejections by everybody else. Texas stuck with the Big XII after the Pac-12 refused to budge on a Longhorn television network. Texas A&M keeps hinting about the SEC. It's a marriage of convenience for most of the Big XII South, and a marriage of necessity for Baylor and the remaining Big XII North schools.

So while the Big XII is all talking warm and fuzzy now, don't believe that all is well behind the scenes. The same issues that nearly destroyed the conference last year still remain, and still mostly unresolved.

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