Big Fish or Bigger Fish?
The headlines use the word “flirting” when discussing possible discussions between the Big 12 and a list of suitors who would love to maneuver themselves into a Power Five conference.
It certainly makes perfect sense for the non-Power Five schools to flirt their way to the big buffet table of money: revenue generated by the big dawgs in the big conferences is obscene. Everybody wants a big piece of the green pie.
Word is that Memphis, Houston, Central Florida and Colorado State are all clamoring for a spot at the cool guys table in the school cafeteria. In particular, supposedly these schools have been lobbying members of the Big 12 Composition Committee; school presidents David Boren (Oklahoma), Gordon Gee (West Virginia) and Ken Starr (Baylor).
Gee was reportedly in Houston last November, given the royal treatment by the school’s president as well as head football coach Tom Herman, who is likely going to be in a bigger conference one of these days, his current school notwithstanding (welcome to College Station, Tom).
Word is that Memphis reached out to the committee in February, singing its own praises, and also mentioning that FedEx (with headquarters in Memphis) would be behind the Memphis-to-the-Big 12 movement (i.e., they would be willing to write a very large check).
Colorado State and Central Florida have also batted eyelashes at the Big 12.
The next significant date in all of this talk is May 31st, when Big 12 presidents and athletic directors are scheduled to meet in Irving, with possible expansion expected to be a hot topic. Quiet – so far – in all of this is the University of Texas.
And that makes perfect sense.
The fact is, why would Texas even pay attention to the flirtations of anyone when the school already has a money-printing machine in Belmont Hall? While the other schools currently in the Big 12 whine about Texas having most of the influence, whine about the Longhorn Network, whine and fuss about whether or not the league should have a football conference championship game, and sometimes gripe about referees favoring the Longhorns because of their money, UT accountants just lay low and put money in the bank.
But while status quo is certainly profitable for Longhorn, Inc., Texas might actually do some flirting of its own in order to distance itself from the dysfunction that is the Big 12.
Head west, Bevo, to the Pac 12.
Six years ago the Longhorns almost fled in that direction. Now, with a caveat or two, Texas might be in an even better position to bolt. But why leave the Big 12?
One, the league has no idea what it wants to do: expand or stay the same? Championship game or no? Heck, in Norman, the OU board of regents and the OU president don’t even agree with one another on this topic. Football officiating in the league is awful, and no one – certainly not the league office – is willing to do anything about it, except ignore it.
Tell the Pac 12 that you’ll go west – if you can bring Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and maybe, Texas Tech with you. Tell them also that there is no way that you will give up the Longhorn Network, which is what many folks say must happen for UT to be accepted elsewhere.
Texas would benefit in several ways from a move to the Pac 12.
For one, the Longhorns shouldn’t leave the Big 12 future in the hands of OU, Baylor and West Virginia, the three schools represented on the Composition Committee. Should UT’s fate really be determined by someone like Starr, who probably should be spending his time with more pressing matters on his own campus?
By staying in the Big 12, the Longhorns are acquiescing to the wishes of others, and that should never the case. It’s arrogant, certainly, but UT should never be willing to be less so that others can be more.
The Longhorns would immediately be in a far superior place in the Pac 12. You wanna go to Palo Alto, California, or Ames, Iowa? Ft. Worth or Phoenix? Waco or Boulder? Seattle or Manhattan, Kansas? Seriously…
Yes, the Big 12 should have a championship game to legitimize the league – but would the league be getting better, or just bigger, from adding the smaller-named schools? Getting Clemson and Florida State is one thing – but Colorado State and Memphis? Umm, no.
Conversely, a move to the Big 12 would place Texas in a far superior football conference with a championship game. California would be more in play for recruiting. League leadership would be more visionary, and might actually acknowledge inept officiating. The quality of football would be much better.
Texas can be the biggest fish in a smaller pond in the Big 12 (and continue to print money) or Texas can be an even bigger fish in a much bigger pond in the Pac 12 (and also continue to print money). Seems like an easy decision to make.