With A Potential Move of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State To the Pac-12….Make That the Pac-14 Imminent Two CHS Members Sat Down With A Network TV Honcho Friend of Ours In Los Angeles To Discuss the Role TV Plays In Intercollegiate Athletics and Conference Expansion – Over Dinner, Brandy and Then Cigars the Potential Pac-16 and the Longhorn Network Were All Discussed And The Bottom-Line……”Details Boys….Just Details”
There has been so much written about college sports expansion since Big Ten commish Jim Delaney let it be known in 2010 that the Big Ten Conference was looking into the possibility of adding 1 or more teams that one could easily characterize the last 18 months as the third or fourth wave of conference expansion over the past 40 years and that is the thing that a lot of people are forgetting in this hyper-connected world where every rumor or tidbit is blasted around the world before it has even been considered by the real decision makers.
With so many people declaring that the world is coming to an end because a few schools may change their conference affiliation we cannot help but wonder if far too many Americans are way too Damn comfortable with the status quo and seemingly desperate to hang onto something…anything from the past….when the thing that makes the American economy really get-up-and-go is Americans coming up new ideas and new visions and acting on those ideas and visions.
When did Americans become so timid, so afraid and so wedded to the past and that odd thing called “tradition?” “Tradition” is fine but if the Founding Fathers had waxed poetically about “tradition” and the “past” there would be no America today for all of us to live-in and think for a moment what the world might look like today if America was not the powerful country and bulwark for liberty and freedom that saved the world from Nazi Germany and the threat of Communism in the past century but was instead broken up into many different countries that stretched all across the North American continent like South America is today.
Yes, the world would look a whole lot Damn different in 2011 and in our opinion would look a whole lot worse because the TRUTH is without the United States of America and its People constantly striving, expanding, moving, doing and creating the modern day American Republic there would have been no country on Earth that would have had the power to take on the Hitlers and Stalins of the world that would have slaughtered Tens of Millions more if not for one thing and one thing only…..
We rather like Henry Ford’s comment about “tradition”:
“History is more or less bunk. It’s tradition. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s dam is the history we made today.”
America is NOT about looking backwards but rather about what each of individually and together creates today in the here and now which really makes OUR country great.
History is something to be studied, to be learned from, to reminisce about, but the moment that America becomes stuck in the mud….like the conditions in the country right now….and is afraid to keep moving forward, to keep pushing the limits and to keep creating new memories that are stored away for us to remember but not to live our lives by then the American Republic will be finished and those that cry-out for “tradition” better keep that in mind because a new world is rushing towards OUR country at an incredibly pace and either America will adapt, grow and change for the better….OR….it will be tossed onto the scrapheaps of former empires like Great Britain, Rome, Greece and Egypt.
What was it Mark Twain said while traveling abroad?
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
With all the handwringing now going on by everyone that has a stake in keeping the current status quo (and the current status quo in some parts of the country is unsustainable which most are finally starting to understand) going a couple of Coaches Hot Seat members were in Los Angeles on Monday pitching a TV show (a crazier business does not exist on Earth) to some production companies and after their dog-and-pony presentation (think acting out a scene from a potential TV show in wild ways to get a producer excited about backing the idea) they stopped by to have dinner with one of our longtime friends in the network TV business who is a huge fan of college football and basketball and they eventually got around to talking about one of our interests here at CHS…
Conference Expansion and TV’s role in the future of intercollegiate athletics.
Leaving aside the broad implications of TV in the future of intercollegiate athletics….which is a Helluva conversation to have with a network TV honcho….the main issue now at hand is if the Pac-12 should consider the adding 2 or 4 more teams from Texas and Oklahoma and whether that would be a good move was discussed over old brandy and cigars at the end of the meal as all such weighty matters should be discussed.
Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman and one of the most connected men in sports in the state of Texas was out last night with the following story on the University of Texas’ current predicament:
Sources: Texas has three viable realignment options
“Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive said on Monday that he remains “optimistic” that the Aggies would join his league by next summer.
Asked if Scott would seek authorization from his school’s presidents to offer the two Oklahoma schools, the source said, “I think he’d recommend they take them. The SEC sees the future, and if the Pac-12 doesn’t move now, they’d miss out on an opportunity to get one of the most storied football programs in the country and the current No. 1 team in the nation.”
But the Longhorns aren’t set on heading west. They’re not set on anything, yet.
They don’t want to be independent, and the one thing they do know is their conference options are about to be reduced by one. If the Big 12 implodes, Texas would have to decide between pushing for membership in the Pac-12 or Atlantic Coast Conference or turning independent, an option Dodds has always strongly opposed.
“Texas’ first choice is to keep the Big 12 together. That’s always been and continues to be Plan A and B,” a well-placed Texas source said. “However, they know that if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State leave, the conference is no longer viable. Then it’s time to look at Plan C.”
The Longhorns, the source said, have established three criteria when it comes to finding a future home:
The first is the well-being of its student-athletes. Traveling back and forth across the country and different time zones can make life extremely difficult for students trying to cram for midterms. The ACC with its Eastern time zone would present a more favorable option for game times and late-night travel than the Pac-12.
Texas’ second metric is economics. The Joneses don’t take pay cuts. Texas has a $154 million annual budget and isn’t interested in joining a conference where its brand or its profit margin takes a hit. And this includes Texas’ three-letter issue. Not SEC. But LHN. Texas has no desire to part, alter or share any aspect of The Longhorn Network, but it would not be able to retain the network as is in the Pac-12.”
On Kirk Bohls’ very last line above…
“Texas has no desire to part, alter or share any aspect of The Longhorn Network, but it would not be able to retain the network as is in the Pac-12.”
…we asked our Network TV Honcho friend what he thought about the University of Texas joining the new Pac-16 along with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech AND holding onto their Longhorn Network.
Our network TV honcho friend took a puff on his very expensive cigar and looks over at our two CHS members and says:
Network TV Honcho: “Boys, in business ALL things are negotiable.”
CHS Member: “What the Hell does that mean?”
Network TV Honcho: “Well…..the issue isn’t Texas having the Longhorn Network and the…what is it….$15 million bucks a year it is getting from ESPN….the issue is can Scott (Pac-12 commish Larry Scott) negotiate an agreement between Texas and the Pac-12 where Texas could keep the Longhorn Network and agree to televise some of the sports (football, basketball and other sports as well) of the 3 schools in its region (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech) and also serve as a platform to promote and advertise the other TV properties that the conference (Pac-12) has already put together and would add-on with these 4 new schools coming over. 5 years from now every major school is going to have a digital network on the Internet at least to pick-up sports that the conferences are not covering and to promote their athletic department and school and those school networks will be integrated with the conference TV networks and the other conference schools and Texas making $15 million a year with the Longhorn Network will still be a big contract 5 years from now but it will not be unusual at all.
CHS Member: “So what you are saying is that Texas having the Longhorn Network is not something that should stop Texas from joining a new Pac-16, but that to make the deal work ESPN and Texas would need to come up with ways to televise some of the events of OU, OSU and Texas Tech and work with the new Pac-12 to integrate their network into the overall and regional networks that Larry Scott has already put together and will undoubtedly add onto?”
Network TV Honcho: “Exactly. The future of TV which is really the future of programming being delivered to all kinds of devices beyond a screen in peoples homes is about coming up with ways to create, produce, televise and deliver product that will generate large or large enough audiences to generate both subscription fees and sufficient advertising revenue that will allow for high-quality production of those TV shows or events. The great thing about college football and basketball is that we as network executives don’t have to spend a lot of money up-front to find creative people like yourselves to come up with ideas that may or may not attract significant amounts of people to watch those programs. College football….just like the NFL will always attract anything from decent to good to great TV ratings and all we have to do is write a check for the rights fees and show up with our production crew at the game site and what do we get to show to the country? Games like the ones we saw over the first two weeks of the college football season…Baylor – TCU, Michigan – Notre Dame, Auburn – Mississippi State, Arizona State – Missouri, etc…. Hell, these college football games…and the NFL…are better than any reality TV could ever be…and we don’t have to send producers out to find provocative people that will attract viewers. We just show up with our cameras and there is a Helluva a product on the field ready to go!
CHS Member: And on our end as consumers of college football we are paying the networks and cable companies subscription fees to the cable and satellite companies and you are selling advertising around these great games and we rarely leave the couch except to get a beer or go pee so we see about 99 percent of the advertising.
Network TV Honcho: “Now you really broke the code but don’t tell anyone I said that because these conference commissioners will start asking for more money and we will have to charge more to advertisers….not that most of these big advertisers have any other way to reach men under the age of 40 except for college and pro sports in an “effective” way…so both the network and cable companies are in a good spot right now and will be there for years to come as the media gets more stratified.
CHS Member: “So the issue with Texas coming West to create a new Pac-16 is not the Longhorn Network per se, but rather is if Texas really wants to come West?
Network TV Honcho: “A deal can be made to make the Longhorn Network into an asset for the Pac-16 Conference, the University of Texas, the other three schools that would come with them and for all the other schools in the conference as well with the kind of cross-promotional things you could do which would from Larry Scott’s point of view give his conference just another outlet into one of the biggest TV markets in the country in the state of Texas. As for the deal that Texas cut with ESPN that gives Texas $15 million a year I just saw the Longhorn Network is picking up some Texas-San Antonio football games so there will be plenty of programming that will be needed for the Longhorn Network in the future and as other teams’ sports are shown either playing UT teams or not the money from ESPN could be shared as well with Texas keeping say….2/3 rds and sharing 1/3 with the other schools from its region. It’s all just a matter of working out a deal.
CHS Member: “It sounds from the news reports that Oklahoma president Boren is ready to bring the Sooners West and that Oklahoma State is with them so figuring out how to integrate the Longhorn Network into this new Pac-16 seems to be the sticking point.”
Network TV Honcho: “Details Boys…..just details.”
“Actually, the source said, the Pac-12 has been in discussions about using a pod system as a way to divide the conference too. Besides, Texas isn’t in love with the thought of playing in a division that includes none of the Los Angeles-based teams.
But that’s not what’s on the table right now.
“Texas really isn’t happy with the way the Pac-12 would like to align the conference,” a well-placed source said. “They want to put all the former Pac-8 schools in one division and group all the former Big 12 schools (assuming Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech join) with Utah and the Arizona schools.”
Texas wants to be in the same division as UCLA and Southern Cal, which would be tougher, but it would also guarantee the Longhorns a trip to Los Angeles every year. Think recruiting.”
We have talked about the idea of breaking a new Pac-16 into two divisions with 4 different pods here at Coaches Hot Seat as well…
“ONE Week of College Football = Calm Down Folks! – ONE Week of College Football Does Not = An Entire Season and the Nuts Drawing Broad Conclusions After ONE Week of College Football Need Mental Help! – A Potential New Pac-16…A Strong College Sports Conference Athletically and Academically – “Two Roads Diverge In A Yellow Wood, And…..”
…and with our proposal of playing 5 “in-division” and 4 “cross-division” games each year Texas and the other 3 schools they would be brought along with them (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) would make at least one trip to California and one trip to the Northwest US each football season which would make for some great games and would be very helpful with recruiting as well…for everyone in the Pac-16. The Texas and Oklahoma schools would love to get games each year on the West Coast and the West Coast schools would love to play games in the Texas-Oklahoma area so the kind of set-up that Kirk Bohls is reporting on and we have written about here at CHS would be beneficial to all the schools in this new conference.
At the end of the evening with the two CHS members having dinner with our Network TV Honcho friend the following was said…
Network TV Honcho: “Isn’t Texas playing UCLA Saturday at the Rose Bowl?”
CHS Member: “Yes. Their last game at the Rose Bowl was that national title game against Alabama when McCoy got hurt.”
Network TV Honcho: “Yes, I remember it well. McCoy gets knocked out the game and that freshman Gilbert come in and plays very well against that very good Alabama team and now Gilbert can hardly complete a pass. Very strange.”
CHS Member: “Yes, that is very strange. Sounds like you watch a lot of college football.”
Network TV Honcho: “Hell, we are all watching lots of college and pro football because it some of the only real TV on TV today.”
CHS Member: “We will drink to that.”
Clearly, the money that Texas is getting from ESPN for the Longhorn Network is a factor in UT wanting to hold onto LHN especially since we have read that the Texas athletic department has dedicated $5 million of the $15 million they are getting from ESPN to go to the academic side of the university, but once Texas starts looking at the kind of scale that could be created by forming the Pac-16 and very big academic benefits that would come from the 4 Texas and Oklahoma schools joining up with the now Pac-12 schools it seems obvious that the Longhorns would want to come West which means that this now just boils down to…
“Details Boys…..just details.”