Friday, February 12, 2010
The case for Texas going to the Big Ten
By Richard Durrett
I just had a discussion with ESPN 103.3 FM host Ben Rogers about Texas and this Big 10 talk. (You can hear more of his thoughts on the Ben & Skin show this morning at 11 a.m...yes, they got into work just fine despite the snow). He thinks the Longhorns should go. After hanging up the phone, I got to wondering what exactly the case would be to go to the Big 10 for Texas. And there is a good case. Here are some factors:
* Money. It's the biggest reason. Texas would join the Big Ten (and make it a 12-team conference with a silly name) and also join the revenue-sharing for the conference's TV network. I've seen estimates that it could yield Texas $10 million more in revenue than they currently get from the Big 12. Right now, Texas gets more from TV revenue than any other Big 12 team because it isn't split evenly. It's based on TV appearances on national networks and no one has more of those in the conference than Texas.
* Exposure. Texas would get even more national exposure with the move, attraction East Coast audiences with games against Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, etc. One blog, Frank the Tank, compares it to the Dallas Cowboys and their insistence on staying in the NFC East despite it not really making since from a geography standpoint.
* That brings us to geography. I will acknowledge that geography doesn't play nearly the same role that it did 10 or 20 years ago. And that kids just want to be on TV. They can be attracted by those games against Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State every year.
Now, a few thoughts in response to these points:
* A move to the Big Ten won't do much for Texas' recruiting. They are already one of the top schools in the country in terms of talent, grabbing the top players in Texas and then others from around the country if they choose to do so. Staying in the Big 12 won't change that.
* Some folks have talked about Texas starting its own TV network. That would not be an option if the Longhorns join the Big Ten.
* Rivalries may not decide whether a team leaves a conference, but they do matter. Sure, it's easy to say Texas could schedule Oklahoma and Texas A&M in nonconference play. Maybe they could. But what about Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and Nebraska? I still argue it's better to play those teams nearly every year than it is to face Indiana and Michigan State and Northwestern. It's more than just the "big" games.
* And another thing: This move isn't just about football. Texas must decide if it makes sence to do so from all of its sports perspectives. Travel does play a role. I know Texas has to go to Manhattan, Kansas, at times. But overall, it's easier to travel in the region and costs less.
It's an interesting discussion. I still think I'm in favor of Texas staying and continuing to be the big fish in the Big 12 pond. It's still one of the best ponds in college athletics. And in football, they still get a chance to contend for national titles every year. If they weren't, moving might seem even more feasible.