The fate of conference realignment lies not in any one athletic department’s hands — more like between its index and pinkie fingers.
Don’t mess with the bull…you’ll get the horns.
Recent reports suggest Texas is the Paul Gleason to would-be Big 12 invitees’ — Clemson, Louisville, Florida State, whomever — Judd Nelson. As it was two years ago around this time, the Longhorns of Texas are at the front of the stampede. UT leveraged its clout in June 2010 to dictate the Big 12 Conference’s fate, at least in part.
The conference is finalizing its television contract. Thus far, nothing has deviated from the initial report each member institution would receive upwards of $20 million. However, the critical news emanating from Big 12 spring meetings seems to be that the existing 10 would not financially benefit from expansion.
If true, that is a crucial for the immediate future of conference alignment and seems to solidify DeLoss Dodds’ insistence that the league is standing firm. The Big 12 would still be an attractive destination for the Florida States, Clemsones and Louisvilles, but not being able to offer economic gains in turn plays dramatically into the dynamic. Dodds seems focused solely on the long unattainable Notre Dame.
Of course, Dodds represents one university. UT may be the only Big 12 member with its own television network, but it’s still just 10 percent of the conference as a whole. New commissioner Bob Bowlsby appeared committed to that fact in a Dallas Morning News piece from earlier this month. Should Dodds believe Texas is worth more than that 10 percent though, it’s understandable.
The possibility of UT leaving for the then-Pacific 10 two years ago threatened the Big 12’s very existence. The conference is no longer on that same thin ice, having had a great month including the upcoming TV contract and its new postseason partnership with the SEC. Thus, UT doesn’t have the same leverage as it did then but make no mistake: those horns can still gore.
Texas has reason to hold off on expansion. Its third tier deal with ESPN for hosting the Longhorn Network yielded an impressive $15 million, and the university won’t gain anything from that regardless of new conference members. If the first and second tier needle isn’t moving, why should UT?