KANSAS CITY--Everyone's a big, happy family. Everyone's saying the right things.
"“We’re not mad at anybody,” said Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne.
"Missouri's a proud member of the Big 12," said Missouri athletic director Mike Alden. "We have been for some time. We look forward to the future."
And sure, it's believable. It's honest.
But unless they're staring across the table at at $22 million payday (eventually, anyway, even if the Big Ten imposes initial restrictions on their revenue), it doesn't mean a thing. And until the Big Ten formally drags its bags full of cash to the negotiating table, anything anyone from Missouri or Nebraska lacks any real impact. Maybe that meeting never happens and the Big 12 escapes with all 12 members safely on board with seat backs and tray tables in full upright positions. (Are we done with that yet?)
“I think there’s as good a chance, and commissioner Delany has said this, that they’ll not do anything as there is that they’ll do something,” commissioner Dan Beebe said.
I believe the Big Ten will elect to act, but Beebe is right, Delany's left that option on the table and it's clearly the most attractive scenario for the Big 12.
But the Big Ten still holds all the leverage and no amount of public commitments to the Big 12 will keep either school's tune from changing if the Big Ten encourages them to apply.
ACC provides inspiration
The Big 12 brass was extremely encouraged by the ACC's impressive 12-year, $1.86 billion television deal, especially considering it came during an economic downturn. If the economy finally reaches an upswing, more money, combined with a clearly more attractive on-field product, provides Beebe with an attractive case to present to the conference's members as an incentive to remain in the Big 12.
But he stressed that television revenue was only part of the decisions to be made.
"I don't think anybody should judge this as only connected to television. I hope there's so much more value that this association provides to our institutions," Beebe said, providing higher contributions than ever to the universities as an example.
Quotes of the day
"And the connotation of commitment doesn’t involve wondering if someone else is going to come along. I feel like my wife is committed to me and if George Clooney comes by, that commitment means she’s not going to run after him.
“Now another word is maybe obligation. There’s an obligation to this conference based on the long-term relationships and the fact that you’re a member of the conference and all that. What I want to do is convert that obligation into commitment.”
- Commissioner Dan Beebe, on receiving a commitment from the universities
“We’re not at the airport yet. We might be on the shuttle van. … Whether we get to that stage yet remains to be seen.”
- Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, who spent most of his time with the media on Wednesday preaching the importance of keeping the Big 12 together
Bohn keeps quiet
One AD who was far from quotable on Wednesday was Colorado's Mike Bohn, who refused to answer any questions dealing in speculation.
"Speculation about other members and how that impacts our league is simply that," he said. "Those hypothetical developments are simply that."
Don't expect a Big 12 Network
One of the driving forces behind the Big Ten's boon and possible expansion has been the success of the Big Ten Network. So why can't the Big 12 try to follow the lead of their neighbors to the North?
"Before I got this role, when I was in the chief operating officer role, we looked carefully at doing that before we did our last television deal," Beebe said. "Part of it was along the same lines of what the SEC concluded, which is that it would too much disrupt--really what you need with a network is you need no distribution of programming from any other source. Everybody's compelled to have to take the network. And so, just like I think the SEC concluded--and maybe the ACC, I don't know--we don't want to pull that back from our institutions. We want to allow other programming and other games to be distributed. And at the time, it was a good deal from ABC and ESPN, so that's what we and our members chose to do."
So, that's that. By "other programming," Beebe means university-produced content either provided by subscription or free on the school's website, or possibly pay-per-view options that schools like Missouri have employed in the past.
I'll have plenty more notes from yesterday's meetings later this morning. So keep checking back.