Texas Longhorns: Going to California (Again)?

When it comes to choosing a conference, the University of Texas has a choice: does it want the nicest house in Compton or an average house in Beverly Hills?

The former is what it would have if it chooses to stick around the Big 12 to keep the Longhorn Network in a Big 12 that definitely won’t have Texas A&M, very likely won’t have Oklahoma and, by extension, Oklahoma State, and possibly won’t have Missouri, either.  UT could continue to be the richest person in the neighborhood by a mile and control the local scene.  Of course, the issue is that everyone in the area that has scrounged up enough of a down-payment is moving out to nicer places.  The latter is what it would own if it becomes an equal TV revenue sharing partner in the Pac-12 (or for that matter, the Big Ten or SEC).  In that case, UT would be another rich guy in a whole town full of rich guys, but it also won’t have to worry about the value of the house going down.

It’s a fundamental question about what UT wants/needs to be.  The Big 12 as saved last summer was really UT’s dream scenario: they essentially were earning independent-type TV money in a conference with their primary regional rivals.  Now that one of their rivals (A&M) might be headed out the door as early as tomorrow and their other main rival (OU) has all but declared it’s heading west to the Pac-12, is the Longhorn Network (which hasn’t even been on the air for a week) more important than UT’s conference?  Larry Scott knows, just like Jim Delany and Mike Slive, that equal revenue sharing is a primary tenet of strong conference unity, so he’s not going to let UT have a separate TV deal when the schools in California like USC have already given up unequal shares in the new monster Pac-12 TV contracts.

Now, I consider Bill Powers (UT president) and Deloss Dodds (UT athletic director) to be smart men.  The Longhorn athletic department didn’t become the wealthiest in the country (even before any LHN cash started coming) by accident.  They likely thought that they controlled all of the cards, where as long as UT stayed in the Big 12, the other big guns of OU and A&M would, too.  I certainly thought that way.  While it wasn’t a surprise to find that the Big 12 wasn’t long for this world, I didn’t believe that it would be killed off only a year after its Summer 2010 stay of execution.

I can’t blame UT for going out and getting the LHN deal.  Any other school that had that type of leverage would’ve done the same thing.  However, I also can’t blame either A&M or OU for looking out for their own interests.  Most people here know me as the guy that wrote about the possibility of Texas going to the Big Ten last year, and as much as I’d still love to see that happen in many ways, there’s really no better conference deal out there for UT than a Pac-16 that includes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.  Neither the Big Ten nor SEC would ever grant spots to OSU and Tech and even if they’re not outright political requirements for OU and UT, they ensure that the two power schools won’t be complete geographic outliers.

At this point, I can’t see how OU could rationally stay in the Big 12 (particularly after OU president David Boren’s explicit statement of no-confidence in the conference).  (Note that rationality doesn’t always apply in conference decisions.)  The Pac-12 would certainly be willing to take them and OSU without having Texas schools coming along, as the Sooner are a top 10 college football brand.  It’s the LHN that makes what UT will ultimately decide difficult to predict.  There’s just no way that channel could continue to exist within the confines of the Pac-12 (at least as a UT-branded entity).  UT is going to have a really nice house no matter where it lives.  What will be instructive is whether it wants the nicest house on the block or a better neighborhood.  The Longhorns may not be able to have both.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

(Image from musicnotes.com)

Cut That Mullet and Frank the Tank’s Football Parlay – 11/7/2008

jeff-fisher-bears

Here are this week’s parlay picks (home teams in CAPS):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) Oklahoma State Cowboys (+3.5) over TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS – Last week’s Texas-Texas Tech game was definitely the best college football game so far this season (and the last half of the 4th quarter was simply spectacular).  That game was such an exhilarating victory for the Red Raiders against an arch rival that it’s tough to imagine that they can keep the same intensity the week after.  The problem is that Oklahoma State is no slouch in the loaded Big 12 – these are excellent upset conditions.

(2) LSU TIGERS (+3.5) over Alabama Crimson Tide – ‘Bama has got to have a tough game at some point and Baton Rouge makes sense to being the place where that happens.  I won’t be surprised if Penn State is the #1 team in the country by the end of the weekend (which will unleash a torrent of Big Ten hating columns from the national media about how bad the conference is compared to the Big 12 and SEC this year).

(3) Illinois Fighting Illini (-7.5) over WESTERN MICHIGAN BRONCOS – Illini fans have been perplexed for a very long time as to why Ron Guenther would agree to play a game at Ford Field against WMU, particularly when we already had a game in the Detroit area this season against Michigan.  There is zero upside for the Illini here.

FYI – I’ve been eying the Illinois-WMU game on the calendar for a couple years now as FUBAR.  I’ll admit to being a complete future college football scheduling dork, which makes CFBPalace an invaluable resource to me.   Honestly, I love my job as a lawyer, but if I had to choose another profession (with the caveat being that I actually have the physical capabilities to fill that role, meaning that my lifelong dream of being shooting guard for the Bulls doesn’t count until I have my 30-year old growth spurt), I would rank the possibilities as follows: (1) NBA general manager, (2) political strategist, and (3) the guy at ESPN that hooks up college football teams that have open dates on their schedules (yes, this position actually exists).

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 4-4
Overall Season: 16-13-1

NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY

(1) ST. LOUIS RAMS (+9) over New York Jets – There’s no logical basis for this pick.  The bookies have broken me.

(2) Green Bay Packers (+2.5) over MINNESOTA VIKINGS – In another complaint about the bookies, they continuously make the lines for Packers games this year so ridiculously attractive that a reasonable person can’t say no.  I have to shower every time that I pick the Packers just to remove the filth that my laptop chokes up on me, but if the Vikings are ever giving points, I’m taking them with no regrets.

(3) CHICAGO BEARS (+3) over Tennessee Titans – Remember how I said that I had a bad feeling about last week’s game against the Lions where they’d win but fail to cover (which is what ended up happening)? Well, despite the fact that Rex Grossman is going to be playing and a picture of the Bears defense has been on the side of milk cartons since the second week of the season, I’ve got baseless positive vibes about this game.  (By the way, I never knew before now of the story of how the playing career of Titans coach Jeff Fisher with the Bears was actually ended due to a broken leg inflicted by former Steelers coach Bill Cowher.  That’s what I call some knowledge that you need to drop when you start discussing the greatest mullets in history at your next cocktail party.)

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-41
Overall Season: 13-11-3

Have a great weekend and, as always, Go Illini and Go Bears!

(Image from USC Legends)