Wednesday, December 2, 2015

With the conference powers at polar opposite ends and Baylor sneaking, is it time for OSU, TCU, and Tech to act?

I have covered the positions of the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma in the last two articles.  UT is against status quo-affecting expansion.  OU is not in as strong of a long-term position and wants supplemental recruiting help (making adding the University of Houston desirable) and a championship game.

Baylor is doing what they do and being sneaky.  They hope to get UH in to bind UT to the conference long term.

Baylor and OU leaders filling 2 of 3 slots on the Big 12 expansion committee (West Virginia has the third slot) created a warm environment for UH to drum up support.  UT allegedly forced the issue by pushing UH now as team #2 in an expansion effort capped at two members.  (How does this work?  "Will Kansas State who might have accepted Cincinnati and Memphis for Memphis recruiting vote for Cincinnati and Houston as the only likely expansion in the next 3-6+ years, knowing likely little recruiting help is on the way? Or will they vote down expansion until next time?")

Right now TCU and Tech are on the expansion sidelines.  

Tech appears to be thinking voting with UT is their best long term position.  It may or may not help them ---but it definitely doesn't hurt them.

TCU is likely looking at things and thinking they want a 12 member league for split divisions and a title game, but they don't want to get on UT's bad side and aren't too excited about Houston either.

Realistically OSU is probably out of the power conferences if OU leaves without them.  OSU wants to keep OU around while trying to be impartial.  They will likely vote with OU, though.

All of these schools could easily be screwed if OU and/or UT leave.

It might be a really smart time for this trio to acknowledge that working together in an effort to deliver a tolerable, impactful 2 team expansion is worth doing.

I am going to begin with the end strategy, but acknowledge there are a lot of steps that would need to be addressed first (---The first of which being going to the members of the expansion committee hat in hand and asking them to bless your efforts.  This strategy won't work if they get uppity about their time being wasted.  You have to be up-front. If the rumors of Cincinnati and Houston potentially nearing being presented for a likely unsuccessful vote are true, their work has been contorted a bit.  Plus Memphis losing their coach might change the positions of several voting schools.  Ask for a small window of time to build an alternative.  One week to find a pair that everyone will support, otherwise the conference votes on the committee's suggested pair --- as reportedly tweaked by UT.)

The end goal? In seven days, to get 8 firm votes to add BYU and SDSU.

BYU would get their sundays off, but would eliminate sports content from their network. SDSU would be in as long as they promised not to beat the conference membership to death with requests for more western members and they sink a lot of their TV share into reducing their obscene 28:1 student teacher ratio that diminishes the school's academic reputation.

If both schools are willing to comply, they are absolutely the best candidates for addition in the next few years.

Good enough?

Why them?  Two reasons.

1) They hit every need of the conference.  This conference need Kings. They are the only two potential Kings this conference can get today.  They add more then 10M people to the footprint and add more than 1 timezone, satisfying TV's alleged desires.  TV won't have any problem with this duo even though they are western. They allow a single flight west in each sport by 4-6 of the league's members.  Central and western divisions would ramp up the chances of UT or OU winning the central division each season (good for the league).  A zippered conference with 2 OOD rivalry games would allow all state rivalries to continue undisturbed and for the conference to maintain great strength of schedule vs. other power conferences.  (I've written it before ---given the Big 12's "school clustering" running up the central US, this conference would do very well to be zippered into divisions by the addition of a western division.) OU could play SDSU OOD for one "value" game helping OU with their supplemental recruiting issue. Heck UT could too.  This pair allows UT and OU to agree to forget about Houston for now.

2) SDSU didn't make the cut because no one in the Big 12 WANTS to travel out west*.   This mindset not only normally takes SDSU off the board, but also hobbles BYU's appeal and their chances as they are likely judged as either a football-only option (a single flight in one sport) or paired with a much weaker candidate in CSU that offers much shorter travel.  If you wanted to look at this strategy of bringing them back into the discussion, in coaching terms, there is "less film on SDSU".  If you want a group to accept a totally different conclusion than the one their handpicked committee arrived at, I think it has to have different names than those discussed ad nauseum.  SDSU's early elimination over travel "ickyness" gives this pairing fresh legs at this moment.

(*To me, a very shortsighted argument.  Adding this duo means 1 trip west a year in football and each Olympic sport for some Big 12 schools.  That's it.  And not even for all of the Big 12 schools!)

Who is traveling west?....Well...TCU, OSU, and Tech first and foremost.  Probably with  KSU.  You can't ask others to "sacrifice"  if you aren't willing to do so yourself.

The bottom line with this for our hopefully bold trio is if UT and OU take Kansas and bolt, there is no more impactful addition the conference could make than adding BYU and SDSU. 

If the big 3 leaves the Big 12, there is no guarantee whatsoever that BYU will see what remains as better than independent status.  It may be unlikely they chose to join what remains. 

Any version of the Big 12 that remains will be centrally based.   It won't consider SDSU without a good "bridge fanbase" like BYU.

So if this doesn't happen soon, if not now even, it probably doesn't happen.

If it doesn't get done, it is probably a bad future for one or all of  OSU, TCU, and Tech.

Fortune favors the bold.

Tech and TCU could approach UT with the idea. They make sense because they are UT allies and frankly if OU gets pissed about no expansion and beats the GOR,  leaving in a year or two, that puts UT in a bind.  UT's boosters will demand realignment movement to keep pace...and that could force a decision that leaves one or both of the UT Texan allies behind.

The case to make to UT is straight forward,  "UT boosters and leadership do not want Houston." (The rumors suggest both parties didn't like UH to start and feel kind of insulted/angered by UH in the recent past.)  "We get that."

"We have always supported UT's positions.  We feel the conference needs 12 starting this year.  We want BYU and SDSU to reach 12. We are here, hat in hand, asking for your support this.  Will you back our alternative proposal?"

I think that is a play UT would totally back. It is respectfully posed. UT has no horse in that race and as long as THEY do not have to play BYU in football, UT leadership may judge that it is an expansion that won't negatively change their plans at all.  In fact it may be see as a big positive.

If UT and Tech are in, along with OSU and TCU, you already are half way to admission.  You only need 8 total votes to pass it.  I don't think any Big 12 schools are going to vote against a pro-expansion UT's vote, but if you want to count the votes...

I think OU and West Virginia would be in as they are generally pro-expansion.  While it is no cupcake Big 12 North, a Central/West split would allow West Virginia to retain the better attended games they kind of enjoy while ridding their schedule of tough road trips like TCU and Tech. 

Baylor may be slow to surrender it's UH advocacy, but they are pro-expansion and the conference's long term odd are better with BYU in.

Kansas and Iowa State would probably OK anything that on the surface appears likely to extend the life of the Big 12 even if Baylor hold out.  There is your 8 votes.

Then it passes and everyone's happy.  Then down the road future realignment can be about discussions of adding lesser candidates in pursuing markets because the core issues will have been addressed.


Post Scripts: I had a couple of things I wanted to add to this article.

What about BYU and Houston?

I have suggested in the fairly recent past that the best two team expansion the Big 12 could do would be BYU and Houston.  I said that because I don't think a two all-sports school expansion is a smart move for the Big 12 at all.  It doesn't begin to satisfy all the needs of this conference.  No two schools totally work.  4 to 6 is better given the conference's needs.

I think if you are dead set on getting two, one of the two has to be the only candidate who is undeniably a not only power conference member-level candidate, but a strong one at that. 


Here's a picture from the all-powerful Googler that pulls up under "BYU Dominates"...Who are they playing?  ...ahem...Cincinnati.

BYU is better than at least 50% of the current members in power conferences and their ceiling over the next 20 years may be top 5-10.

The very thought that the Big 12 would ever consider BYU as a football-only add to avoid travel makes me shudder.   Do they not see BYU makes the NCAA tournament every year and usually advances?  That alone is 2+ shares.

I know, Jimmer...Where is the love for BYU basketball??

As far as Houston in the other slot, my thought was that slot was earmarked for OU's needs to keep them in the conference.  It was mostly about who could give OU the supplemental recruiting they need to stay at a top 12 level.  Houston, Memphis, SDSU or one of the Florida giants could do it. But Houston offers OU it's traditional recruiting territory.  It is "easy". (Well, not to get voted in.)

I have said repeatedly I liked Phi Slamma Jamma and the Southwest Conference, but that isn't why I put them in the 12 slot.

The Big 12 leadership has stuck to realignment cw in the past.  Realignment cw says SDSU is far away and far away in a bad direction (the west).  That means they are "too far away".  (Get it? Get it? "two far away"? Eh...nevermind...)

It is a three hour flight from Austin to San Diego and a 5 1/2 hour journey from Austin to Morgantown, WV and a 4 1/4 hour trip to Cincinnati.  But San Diego is too far... because it is in the west.

(Not like Miami or Florida State.  They are close enough....)

If BYU was coming in, the Florida giants UCF and USF would be distance scratches. That made school #12 a two school race in my mind.

Houston and Memphis are close and I felt pretty sure Fuentes would be gone.

So why is SDSU potentially viable today?

DO I need to show you the helmet again?

Kidding.  (A little.)

I knew SDSU was tough sell due to travel.  I thought the Big 12 membership would discount them in a 4-6 team expansion and totally overlook them if they followed realignment cw and insisted on a two team expansion.

As I have thought about it though, I realize SDSU as a candidate may have some legs now that they did not two months ago.  Houston is somewhat a caustic choice for many schools (more so than even I thought) and that stirs the pot and may make schools take another look at things.  Memphis has likely lost much of it's luster as a candidate with Fuentes gone.

Frankly buyer's remorse may be sitting in a little on Cincinnati, the school alleged to be in the priority add slot as team 11--- Do you really want Cincinnati, the "Temple" of Ohio, over BYU, the "Notre Dame" of Mormons? Doesn't that sound like a bad decision?  They are a very "safe" add,  not a sexy one.

Cincinnati is a second tier Ohio brand. BYU is a first tier brand across the western US and due to their missionary efforts, all over the world.

This decision screams "Wrong thinking!"

One wonders what kind of advice the old Big East would have given the Big 12 as they passed on Joe Paterno's calls for a northeastern conference and let King Penn State float out there for years...

If you decide BYU needs to be the priority, not Cincinnati, why not pair BYU with San Diego State?

1 comment:

  1. So...I just saw that UTEP was ranked 10th overall in the latest national rankings by Washington Monthly:

    With that level of research, why not include them in a San Diego State and/or BYU combo? Does it carry the same sort of baggage that Houston would bring (such as political issues within Texas), but without the recruiting and market size? Or would offer a "safer alternative to Houston, that help bridge the gap between Texas school and other targets out west?

    CBS is also reporting that the MWC conference could be considering UTEP (makes sense to me):

    I honestly know next-to-nothing about UTEP other than: (1) Their football team plays in the Sun Bowl; and (2) Their basketball team won a national championship back in 1965, by famously defeating Adolf Rupp's all-white Kentucky team (as Texas Western).