The substance behind the salvo Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins fired Tuesday when he called the threat of conference realignment “serious, serious, serious stuff,” took shape Thursday, and it’s not a pretty shape for Kansas.
Unlike fears the Big Ten would raid the Big 12 for Missouri and Nebraska, a Rivals.com report Thursday that said the Pac-10 has plans to invite half the Big 12 schools to join them in a super conference had a feel of authenticity to it.
Under the possible scenario, the Pac-10 poaches Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech to form a 16-team conference and wipes the Big 12 off the planet.
That leaves Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Nebraska looking for a conference, in the event the six other schools receive and accept the invitations from the Pac-10.
Fear mongers would have you believe that Missouri and Nebraska can be crossed off that list, leaving Kansas only with Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor, hardly a trio of heavyweight revenue generators, but that scenario has a major road block. If Notre Dame joins the Big Ten, making it a 12-team conference, where is the incentive to expand from there? Any additional member, short of a mega-power such as Texas, would dilute the caliber of the conference, the size of the pie, the money going to each member.
Even if Missouri and Nebraska seek a home with Kansas and the others left behind, the Pac-10-poaching scenario leaves KU no potential conference home nearly as attractive as the one it has now.
Perkins, under a chancellor-ordered ethics investigation, wasn’t employing diversionary tactics to take attention away from his own situation when he spoke to the gravity of conference-realignment talks.
Television dollars drive the realignments, and households drive television dollars. The very things that make Kansas such a pleasant place to live — lack of congestion, beautiful, open landscape, personal space — make KU and K-State less attractive to conference raiders.
Colorado brings the Denver market, Texas A&M brings Houston, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State bring the entire state and one major national football power. Texas Tech makes more geographic sense than the Kansas schools.
Still, only interest on the part of Texas, mighty Texas, makes the whole thing fly. Texas and only Texas can save the Big 12 by staying put. That would be the same Texas that inspired jealousy from other Big 12 members for earning a bigger TV revenue share than the other schools.
It’s funny how quickly one potential move from another conference can or at least should make all the Big 12 schools rethink the need for equal revenue sharing.
The story breaking right before the conclusion of the Big 12 meetings and the beginning of the Pac-10 meetings certainly didn’t do anything to damage UT’s already massive bargaining power.
Even skewing TV revenues more heavily in the direction of Texas might not make a difference. The cash stack from a conference that stretches from Texas to California could be too rich to refuse.