The UT press conference on realignment
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[My comments appear at the end of the post.] The first statement by the UT folks was, “We are confident of the value of a ten-team conference. We feel very confident this is a viable long-term solution.” Question: Do you have financial guarantees from networks? “Nothing is guaranteed, it’s part of negotiations. No guarantee from the league or our northern partners. Reports of guarantees to particular schools are incorrect. A question was asked about the PAC-10 negotiations. “We are not in a position to comment on the PAC-10 offer. Our view is that it is in our strong economic interest and consistent with our traditions to remain in a ten-team Big Twelve. The next question was about future TV deals. “We don’t have a firm deal with the Big Twelve. We did get estimates of what our economic prospects are. “This [decision] is not just one item or another, but what is the best fit for the University of Texas.” “We’ve been committed to the Big 12 since 2007. We did become concerned about other schools leaving for the Big 10. Two of the schools reacted by leaving the conference. Now we have stability. We’re in a far better position than when we had instability. “Some schools in 2007 wanted us to have a Big 12 network. We wanted our own network. Nebraska was aligned with us at the time.” [In discussions with the PAC 10]: “We need to evaluate what we would give up. We currently retain our TV rights. Other schools can exploit their TV (it may have been ‘tier three’) rights. The PAC 10 owns their TV rights. That was an issue for them. Certainly the TV network was a sticking point.” “Now we’re in a position where we can continue to move forward. The Big 12 TV package will be as good as any TV package in the nation. The contract with ABC runs through 2016. We feel very good about the TV package.” Question: How much money will you get out of this deal? “We have no deal with our northern teams. We feel very, very confident about our situation. The ABC/ESPN contract continues as it was. There is no reduction, we lost two members but the contract says the same. We’ve got good vibes from our network partners. The central time zone is an exposure friendly time zone.” “We have a collection of schools that have done very well in our own markets. The television thing is a big thing, but it is just one of the reasons for staying in the Big Twelve.” [I did not get the answer] Question about the Pac 10: “The life of our student athletes was a factor in going to the Pac 10. It was of greatest importance to all.” Did A&M’s flirtation with the Southeast Conference affect your decision? “We committed to the Big 12 before we knew what A&M was going to do.” Question: Will other schools bolt for other conferences. “We discussed long term stability. There is a tremendous amount of trust among the presidents of these institutions.” Question: Are there any penalties for leaving? “We’re relying on public statements of the presidents. They have said, publicly and unequivocally, they are committedto the Big 12 Conference. That is all we asked for. Question: Has the governor been involved. “The governor has done ka good job of saying he would stay our of it.” Future conference organization: “We will play everybody in football and a double round-robin in basketball.” Are Texas fans happy with this? DeLoss Dodds: “There was lots of excitement about the process. I think our fans–I called maybe twenty people–they feel good about where we ended up.” What about the strength of schedule, and no championship game. [Note: a conference cannot have a championship game unless it has at least twelve teams.] Reading between the lines here, I think we can draw these conclusions about UT’s position. 1. Two things sank the deal with the Pac 10–the time zone difference, which adversely impacts TV exposure and travel time for athletes, and the Pac 10 having its own network, which meant UT couldn’t have a network of their own. 2. Claims that the new conference has long-term stability are very dubious. Missouri has already indicated its interest in going to the Big Ten. A&M and OU listened to feelers from the SEC. I don’t think that this new conference has a long shelf life. 3. I don’t think that fans of the three big universities (UT, A&M, OU) are happy at all. And don’t think that the departure of Nebraska and Colorado don’t matter. Nebraska will return to prominence in the Big Ten. Colorado takes the Denver market away from the Big 12. Missouri may take the Missouri and Kansas City markets with them. The Big 12 has nowhere to look for new blood except in Texas, and that is what killed the Southwest Conference.