In a shocking and dramatic move yesterday the big 12 was saved from apparent disaster. In my previous post I lamented the loss of the big 12 conference, submitting the the apparently imminent exodus of five schools from the big 12 (UT, A&M, Tech, OK, OK State), following the earlier week departures of Colorado and Nebraska. This would have left the remaining five schools (Baylor, KU, KSU, Mizzou, Iowa State) scrambling to find a place to play NCAA sports.
The Mountain West conference was interested in KU, KSU, and Mizzou. According to rumors, TCU was effectively blocking any interest the MWC had in Baylor because of their 14 year old grudge about their exclusion from the current big 12 conference. Baylor most likely would have landed in the Western Athletic Conference, needless to say a serious demotion from the big 12. Well all of these speculations are now pointless.
The details from behind the scenes negotiations to save the conference are still illusive, but apparently some well placed power brokers from the NCAA and Television networks made a desperate play to avoid the rapid move to mega conferences (like the proposed Pac 16). Their plan worked and the Big 12 was saved with its 10 remaining members. How did they do it? Money. The new television deal provides a sizable raise to all of the big 12 schools. According to reports, payouts will range from 14-20 million dollars per year, with the option of Texas to start their own TV network that could net 3-5 million per year. Even for the lowly Bears, this is a doubling of last years revenue of 7 million. The big 12 will now be paying out similar figures to the Big 10 and SEC.
So, what does this mean for Baylor?
1. More money, lots more money
2. Baylor will still be the whipping boy in the conference, at least in football (no one seems to be complaining right now)
3. Briles will be tested more in the Big 12 than in the WAC. We will see over the next few years if he can build a competitive program in one of the toughest football conferences
4. Texas has solidified its place as the big fish in the conference, even more so than before
5. Baylor 2012 will roll on unchecked
6. We will play all of the big 12 teams every year in football and twice a year in basketball
The big loser in this equation: Colorado. Colorado, seeing the apparently imminent dissolution of the conference and not wanting to be left on the outside looking in, jumped ship early to the Pac 10. Who knows what the Pac 10 offered, but whatever they offered seemed to be based on a Pac 16 including five of the powerhouse teams from the Big 12. They will not be able to offer any such thing right now, and their payout will be significantly lower than the new big 12 deal. Plus,
both Colorado and Nebraska have to pay a 10 million dollar penalty for leaving the conference. Whereas the significant pay raise for Nebraska should alleviate that penalty, the Pac 10 will not be able to offset that penalty for Colorado.
All I have to say is that there is a collective sigh of relief from the Baylor community right now. Hurray for the big 12 conference.