The Big 12 may continue to exist after all. What looked to be impossible this past weekend, Texas and the Big 12 officials may have a deal that will give Texas what it wants: control. The Dallas News is reporting that Texas has turned down the Pac 10's invitation to join the conference after the Longhorns wanted a better television deal than the rest of the conference. Essentially, the "better" television deal would come from the Longhorns own television network that would net the University an additional $3-$5 million annually:
Pac 10 Commissioner Larry Scott confirmed that the University of Texas has declined an invitation to join the conference. The decision will preserve the Big 12 as a 10-team conference, assuming Texas A&M elects to remain. Texas A&M officials were deliberating Monday afternoon.
Big 12 member schools and TV partners met Monday to work on a lucrative television deal that would convince the
Universityof Texasand three other schools -- State and Texas Tech -- to abandon pursuit of Pac-10 membership. Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Under Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe's plan,
would see a sharp increase in revenue under a new cable TV right deal with Fox Sports. Because of the Big 12's revenue sharing formula, Texas would probably make more than the $17 million average, perhaps close to $20 million. The Longhorns would also be allowed to form their own network, something that would not be allowed in the Pac-10. Texas
A source said the network could eventually produce up to $5 million in revenue based on projections, which would likely bring
more money than a move to the Pac-10. Texas
John Henderson of the Denver Post cites a Pac 10 source close the situation that Texas tried to pull a quick one and demand a better deal late in the game during final negotiations:
The battered Big 12 may be on the verge of survival after a source close to the Pac-10's expansion negotiations told The Denver Post today that Texas is insisting on better revenue sharing and its own network.
"In the 11th hour, after months of telling us they understand the TV rights, they're trying to pull a fast one on the verge of sealing the deal in the regents meeting," the source said. "They want a better revenue sharing deal and their own network. Those were points of principle. (The Pac-10) wants to treat everyone fairly. It's been that way for months of discussions."
ESPN.com is reporting that Texas could earn up to $25 million with the new proposed television deal, approximately $5.0 million more than the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas A&M Aggies, who could earn up to $20 million. The other seven schools - Texas Tech Red Raiders, Baylor Bears, Missouri Tigers, Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas St. Wildcats and Iowa St. Cyclones - would earn $14 - $17 million. Of course, the $14 - $17 million is almost double what those schools received last year but the gap continues to widen in favor of Texas.
All of this seems contigent on Texas A&M staying with the Big 12 conference and not bolting to the SEC.
A few things to remember if this turns true. The positives to this scenario are obvious. The Pac 10 would probably add Utah to form the Pac 12 with Colorado. That would add the Salt Lake City television market and the Denver television market to its current markets. Also, from a competitve standpoint, Colorado would not be joining the Big 12 South + the two Arizona teams. Instead, Colorado may join a grouping of the Washington Huskies, Washington St. Cougars, Oregon Ducks, Oregon St. Beavers and Utah Utes. Or it could be the USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins, Arizona Wildcats, Arizona State Sun Devils, Colorado and Utah. Either way, it looks to be an easier hill to climb than joing a conference that included Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
The drawbacks are the University of Texas isn't coming over which will reduce the television revenue paid out to Colorado and other members of the Pac 10. Colorado may also owe the $10 million penalty payout to the Big 12 which was something that many hoped would be a non issue if the Big 12 dissolved entirely. During the Pac 10/Colorado conference calls last week, the Colorado administration hinted at the Pac 10 loaning the University the cash to pay off the penalty. The loan would be paid back overtime from future conference revenues. Such a deal may be needed if the University cannot raise the money itself.
One thing is not debatable: Getting out of the Texas shadow continues to look like a good decision as the Big 12 continues to run through Texas and the top tier programs. The gap continues to grow between the rest of the conference and Texas. Throw in the championship games moving to Dallas Stadium and the Longhorn television network, it is difficult to see the "other seven programs" in the Big 12 closing the gap.