“Those dollar signs are breaking up that old gang of mine,” ought to be the theme song for the proposed break-up of the Big 12 Conference that seems to be like some real-life soap opera taking place right under our noses.
It seemed to begin soon after the regular season ended in December when the Big 10 publicly announced that it wanted to expand into a “super conference” consisting of 12 to 16 schools.
Actually it looked to this Korner like the Big 10 was putting out feelers to get Notre Dame into its fold. But Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri were quick to indicate they’d be interested in switching conferences and were given a leave-or-stay deadline of last Friday by the Big 12.
Then officials from the Pac-10 jumped on the bandwagon and agreed that the idea of having a super conference for football would really increase the football revenue—provided they lured the right schools to join their league.
The “right schools” happened to be Colorado, which agreed to join the Pac-10 Friday, and the South Zone of the Big 12 Conference.
At first the Big 12 brain-trust believed all the talk about breaking up their league was just that—talk– and didn’t think anything like that could ever happen to a conference as successful as the Big 12.
But last week reality sunk in as Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne liked what the Big 10 was proposing and especially how the revenue for football would increase and thought the move would be good for the school and Friday signed on to join the Big 10 beginning in 2011.
Old Tom recalled the “good old days” when he matched wits with his rival, Barry Switzer, head coach of those dreaded Oklahoma Sooners back in the 1970’s. The Nebraska-Oklahoma match-up was eagerly watched by college football fans nationwide.
However, Osborne was quick to point out that once the Big 12 scheduling started in 1996, the Huskers played Oklahoma only two out of every four years. “There’s no question that was our rival,” Osborne said, “but to be a true rival, you have to play every year. Things began to change at that point.”
Osborne added that when Arkansas’ Frank Broyles, long a fixture in the old Southwest Conference, decided to move the Razorbacks from the SWC to the Southeastern Conference in 1990, it made Arkansas healthier financially and competitively.
The rivalry that is the greatest interest to college football fans in Southeast Texas has to be between Texas and Texas A&M, which normally concludes the regular season for both institutions.
And with Texas invited to join the Pac-10 and the Aggies wanting to follow the desire of former coach Gene Stallings and pursue the tough Southeastern Conference, you can just about kiss that rivalry good-bye.
Luckily, late Monday Texas administrators advised representatives from the Pac-10 that the Longhorns will remain in the Big 12 along with Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech.
The Longhorn brass wouldn’t think about heading West without members of the Big 12 South Zone that includes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Texas A&M and decided these teams would be better off right where they are now—in the Big 12 Conference.
Another long-time rivalry dating back to the Civil War that would have gotten shattered if those teams decided to leave for the Pac-10 involved Kansas and Missouri with both of those schools probably left out in the cold along with Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State.
Missouri had indicated it was interested in joining the Big 10 and would be a perfect fit for that conference, but decided to remain in the Big 12 after failing to get a Big 10 invitation.
Colorado didn’t even wait for Nebraska or Missouri, deciding to leave the Big 12 for the Pac-10 last Wednesday. The Buffaloes will begin Pac-10 play in 2012.
Although the news Friday was all about Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Big 10, Boise State on the same day left the smaller Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West for a chance at a clearer path to the BCS, after winning two of the past four Fiesta Bowls.
It’s no secret that at most schools the football program is subsidizing most of the other sports including all the Title IX women’s sports. Each year the cost of these other sports gets higher and higher and the income from football can’t keep up in many cases.
Don’t be surprised if the addition of these mega-conferences reopens discussion of something the BCS doesn’t want to hear—playoffs. With 64 teams contained in four conferences, it should be a rather simple transition from the current format.
It looks to this Korner that these defections of Nebraska and Colorado from the Big 12 are simply a matter of the rich wanting to get richer in college athletics. And it may not be long before Congress takes another long, hard look at the fact athletic departments enjoy a tax-exempt status as part of their universities.
Utah senator Orrin Hatch of the U. S. Senate Finance Committee has been a longtime BCS critic and has been trying to change this tax-exempt status collegiate athletic departments have enjoyed for so long. This might be the so called straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.
KWICKIES…The Los Angeles Lakers returned home with their backs against the wall in the NBA finals, trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series against the Boston Celtics. The Celts were the only team to post back-to-back victories and are forcing the Lakers to emulate that feat if they expect to be the 2010 World Champions. Game Six was held Tuesday night as the Lakers tried to prevent Boston from winning its record 18th NBA championship. If the Lakers win, Game 7 will be played Thursday in LA.
Longtime basketball coach and recent athletic director Billy Tubbs has been promoted by Lamar University to Executive Assistant to President Jimmy Simmons. Women’s basketball head coach Larry Tidwell has been named as Interim Athletic Director.
The Houston Astros got a rude introduction to the new Yankee Stadium last weekend as the Bronx Bombers swept the Astros in a three-game series. Veteran Yankees’ catcher Jorge Posada did a majority of the damage, hitting grand slam home runs in both Saturday and Sunday’s victories. New York squeezed out a 4-3 win Friday, then crushed the Astros 9-3 Saturday and 9-5 Sunday. Houston enjoyed an off-day Monday before swinging back into Interleague action Tuesday at Kansas City against the Royals for a three-game series.
One of the worst examples of choking away a golf tournament victory occurred Sunday on the 72nd hole of the St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Robert Garrigus was enjoying a three-stroke lead going into the final hole and took a horrible triple-bogey, throwing the tourney into a three-way tie. Garrigus was the first golfer eliminated and British golfer Lee Westwood defeated Swede Robert Karlsson on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff to win the $1 million first-place check. Karlsson and Garrigus each won $492,800 for second place.
JUST BETWEEN US…The first annual Southeast Texas Ford Dealers All-Star Football Classic appeared to be a success Saturday night at least from the standpoint of being exciting down to the final gun. The West team, coached by longtime Newton coaching legend Curtis Barbay, scored a touchdown with four seconds left in the game to upset the East team, coached by West Orange-Stark coaching legend Dan Hooks, 14-10. Anahuac’s Braxton Mayes scored a touchdown on a flea-flicker on the game’s opening play and then came back and caught the game-winning touchdown on the game’s final play. It was the first time in seven tries that a Barbay-coached team defeated a Dan Hooks-coached team. The game was played before an estimated crowd of 3,500 in 90-degree heat at The Reservation in Port Neches.