Monday, June 14, 2010
High anticipation for Beebe to follow Osborne's lead
By David Ubben
Days before his school left for the Big Ten, Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne made a plea for patience.
"Eventually, all the facts will come out," he told the Lincoln Journal Star.
In an open session with Nebraska's board of regents, he made good on his promise, recounting the then-secret, contentious, but civil negotiations that took place during the Big 12 spring meetings early this month. He pointed at Texas and Missouri for failing to commit to the Big 12, and got the Huskers' exit underway with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany at his side later that afternoon.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe may manage to convince Texas to stay and save the Big 12 with a sales pitch full of promises, money and the potential to create their own network, a luxury the Pac-10 reportedly wouldn't provide.
But the details and truth surrounding a proposal that at least made Texas slow its negotiations with the Pac-10, and at most saved the Big 12, should be fascinating. Beebe is predicting SEC-type numbers for the next fiscal year, and to be fair, the SEC earned $132.5 million last year. This year, they jumped to $209 million, issuing $17.3 million to each team in the conference. The Big 12 earned $139 million this year. To plan for a similar jump isn't impossible, but it is questionable. Planning for SEC numbers in the future sounds attractive, but the SEC's four consecutive national titles by three different teams don't give much reason to believe the SEC will slow its financial growth to let the Nebraska-less Big 12 catch up.
The Big 12 earned more than the Pac-10 in 2009, and that could continue -- even without Nebraska. I have my doubts about the claim that the new Big 12 could earn more than the Pac-16, but the idea of creating their own network -- whose revenue they wouldn't have to share -- might be enough to convince Texas to stay. Texas A&M could still leave, but the Pac-10 may have to add Utah and stand pat if the Longhorns don't choose to leave.
Beebe's last big plan didn't work out so well, but if this one does, schools like Kansas and Kansas State had better hope it comes with a long-term commitment. Otherwise, the league may end up in the exact same spot very soon. Texas has said all along they've wanted to keep the Big 12 together. Making this move would be the ultimate affirmation of what DeLoss Dodds' has preached from the start of realignment rumors. The motives behind Texas' reconsideration of a move to the Pac-10 could be anything. They might believe Beebe's plan, which presumably came with input from the actual networks they'd be negotiating with. They may believe they can make more money here. They may be calling Texas A&M's bluff to see if the Aggies have the gumption to leave for the SEC, providing the Longhorns with a third direction to point if the Big 12 breaks up, along with Lincoln and Columbia.
Little is certain in a story that seems to shift by the hour. What I know for sure is I hope Beebe and/or Dodds take a page from Osborne and let the public in when all this is finished. They'd be better off for it.