Monday, June 7, 2010
Five things we learned at Big 12 meetings
By David Ubben
There's been plenty of development and rumors since the Big 12 spring meetings closed on Friday afternoon, but taking that into account, here's what we learned during a contentious week.
1. So much for a secretive process. Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe kept his plans under wraps through the week and planned to do so moving forward. Not so much for the rest of the conference, who have anonymously leaked various details of the Big 12's plan to hold itself together, including an "ultimatum" or drop-dead date of this Friday, or perhaps slightly longer. Neither Missouri nor Nebraska have confirmed the ultimatum, but with the Pac-10 speaking on the possibility of inviting any number of Big 12 teams, the circumstances have changed.
2. The fate of the conference is in "a few hands." It would appear the hands with the most pull are Nebraska and Texas, but statements released by Iowa State, Kansas State and Baylor over the weekend make it clear the conference is far from a free-for-all. Should Nebraska, Missouri or Texas pledge commitment to the conference in the coming weeks, expect them to follow suit with a strongly worded statement, rather than a news conference that would subject schools administrators to questions.
3. Revenue is up. But not that up. The Big 12's conference revenue last year rose from $130 million to $139 million. It rose $16.5 million from 2007-08 to 2008-09, but the Big 12 also placed two teams (Texas and Oklahoma) in BCS bowl games to help that jump. Most importantly, the gains by the Big 12 are dwarfed by recently announced numbers from the Big Ten and SEC. The Big Ten recently announced that the reported $22 million number given to its schools was too high, but it still passed out a number closer to $20 million, league officials said. The SEC just doled out over $17 million to its members from a pool of $209 million, up from $132.5 million in 2008-09. The Big 12 is confident it could see a similar jump in the future, but first things first: There has to be a Big 12 for Big 12 revenue to exist. Though the Big 12 will continue to distribute revenue unequally, individual team totals were not immediately made available.
4. Book your flights to Dallas, North fans. As expected, the Big 12 announced its intention to hold the 2011, 2012 and 2013 Big 12 championship games at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Contract agreements still have to be negotiated by Beebe and stadium officials, and again, there has to be a Big 12 to host a Big 12 championship, but Tom Osborne's preference did little to sway the final decision. Beebe did say the game has not been anchored, but his comments seem to indicate doing so in the future is a possibility.
5. A merger with the Pac-10 is a reality. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn's comments last Thursday to the Boulder Daily Camera made that obvious. "The longer that we were together in Kansas City it appeared that that rumor or speculation did have some validity to it," Bohn told the paper. That affected Thursday's meetings enough to cancel the day's news conference, and Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott confirmed that of the four expansion possibilities the conference is considering, three involved Big 12 teams.