The University of Texas is too big for the Big 12.
The conference survived because the only other school in the vicinity of Texas played nice. That alliance ended in January when Oklahoma president David Boren aimed his sights on the Longhorn Network.
“The Big 12 is disadvantaged when compared to the other conferences in three ways,” Boren told NewsOK.com. “We do not have at least 12 members, we do not have a conference network and we do not have a championship game.”
Of those three disadvantages, two are very easy to fix – the Big 12 could add any combination of Houston, BYU, UConn and Cincinnati tomorrow. The elephant in the room is the Longhorn Network, which prevents the creation of a Big 12 network.
On Monday, it was reported the Big 12 would soon discuss expansion candidates. It doesn’t matter. The Big 12 will die. The only question left is “When?”
Texas will do everything in its power to keep the Big 12 together because it works out so well for them, as they get $20 million per year from ESPN in addition to their cut of Big 12 payouts. The system is rigged in their favor. At some point, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are going to cut and run, either to the Pac-12 or SEC.
Why prolong the agony and delay the inevitable? Texas needs to be an independent. Texas needs to be like Notre Dame. In fact, Texas needs to be exactly like Notre Dame.
Still, the ACC’s outlook for the future is dramatically better than the Big 12’s due to the presence of Notre Dame. For all the mocking the ACC’s “lopsided” deal with Notre Dame took at the time, it has been a boon to the conference. In the first two years of the playoff, its champion has used big wins over Notre Dame in front of massive TV audiences to springboard to the Final Four.
Here’s the bottom line: the ACC needs to offer Texas a similar deal and reap the rewards.
For the ACC, the rewards are endless. As with Notre Dame’s annual football games, adding Texas gives the league an additional five games that will instantly sell out stadiums and be shown on national television. Let’s not forgot what the added value of Texas would bring in terms of bowl tie-ins, which were dramatically improved due to Notre Dame’s addition.
As Notre Dame’s basketball team did, Texas adds yet another NCAA Tournament contender to the league. Perhaps more importantly, Texas would give the league an even number of teams for easier scheduling.
For Texas, a move to the ACC would provide the independence it has been seeking for decades. By only having 5 games on the schedule every year, it allows Texas to continue playing Oklahoma, continue playing several in-state schools, continue playing big-name intersectional teams like Ohio State and potentially revisit a rivalry with Texas A&M.
In fact, if Texas and Notre Dame were both independents, they could schedule an annual game the first weekend in December to create a “championship game” for playoff purposes. How much do you think ESPN would pay for an annual Texas/Notre Dame game? Maybe Jerry Jones could host it. Insert “printing money” emoji.
Do you know who would really, really like this partnership? ESPN, aka the company losing money hand over fist on the Longhorn Network and currently splitting Big 12 TV rights with Fox. If Texas went solo, ESPN could immediately swoop in with a deal to make that network actually provided value.
I know you’re asking what happens to the rest of the Big 12 and, well, we already saw this story with the Big East’s disintegration. The Big 12 pieces worth something – OU & OSU, KU & KSU – will find homes somewhere, either in the Pac-12 or SEC. Maybe the Big Ten would take Kansas. The schools without TV value (sorry Texas Tech & Iowa State) would likely end up merging with the AAC, which was going to happen with the Big 12 leftovers and old Big East pieces in 201.
Here’s the million-dollar question to any good idea; Would anyone say No? Would Texas? Would the ACC?
In my humble opinion, both would say “Yes!” in a heartbeat. Now the real million-dollar question is, “Will either side ask the question?”
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