A year ago the big news out west and across the nation was Pac 10 expansion. Only a year ago it looked like a sure thing that Texas and a few other Big 12 schools would join the conference turning it into an 18 team behemoth. The logic was simple. Add Texas and all the TV sets the Longhorn state provides would create a bonanza for all.
All the expansion noise was supposed to be coming out of the Big Ten but Larry Scott preempted their thunder by going after the Texas schools. In the end Nebraska headed off to the Big Ten and the Pac 10 picked up Colorado and Utah. Both conferences walked away with a championship game but did that make them stronger?
For the Big Ten the ultimate prize has always been Notre Dame and they once again were unable to lure the Irish. The conference does get a championship game and the addition of a very solid school in Nebraska but they didn't pick up that much in the way of TV sets. Omaha/Lincoln is comparable to picking up Spokane even though Nebraska has a national presence.
Colorado and Utah were very attractive to the Pac 10 from a geographical perspective. Both institutions are located in serious growth areas so over time the TV value will continue to increase in value. Academically both schools are a good fit. That fit will get better over time as they assimilate into the academic associations of the conference.
The big question of course is did the Pac 12 which is sitting on a projected $30 million per school - per year payout need to include Colorado and Utah to pick up that type of TV deal? I think it did for a number of reasons and number one was simply momentum and perception.
The conference didn't get the biggest dog which was Texas but they created enough noise and enough new market space to become very interesting to the networks who were scrambling for sports programming. Having enough members to simply stage a championship game was a big deal to the networks.
Six months ago the media experts wondered if the Pac 12 conference would get something relatively close to the ACC deal. They argued that the Pac 12 would get less because they aren't nearly as a big a draw in basketball. Revenue projections for each member at that time was $10-$12 million. It was definitely an improvement but it was no bonanza.
Since then the league has signed a series of TV contracts which will bring in approximately $20-$22 million per member depending on who is doing the math. In addition to that the Pac 12 network will bring in another bonanza worth $8-$12 million per member once it gets rolling.
$28 to $34 million per year - per member. We are talking potential Texas money for every single school in the Pac 12 conference without the annoyance of having to be in the same conference as Texas. Overall the Pac 12 is the big winner in this round of the expansion derby. The big losers are the WAC, Big 12, and MWC.
The Big 12 loses Nebraska, Colorado, and its Dallas based championship game. The not so Big 12 also screwed the proverbial pooch when it came to revenue sharing. Texas gets the biggest slice followed by Texas A&M and Oklahoma. The potential disparity between Texas and lets say an Iowa State or Missouri is huge. I don't see this 10 team alliance sticking together beyond the length of their current TV contract.
The Mountain West Conference seemed poised to make some huge strides last June. They were ready to poach Boise State from the WAC and were on the verge of possibly picking up what was left of the Big 12. That would have automatically made the MWC a major BCS player.
At the last minute things went south for the MWC. Utah accepted an invitation to join the Pac 10 after the Texas schools decided to stay put in the Big 12. BYU decided to go the independent route thinking that they could be the Notre Dame of the West. TCU then jumped on an invitation to join the Big East conference.
While all this was going on the WAC invited BYU to be a member in all sports except for football. The MWC then countered by inviting Boise State, Nevada, Hawaii, and Fresno State, which squashed those plans. BYU didn't look back and placed the rest of their programs in the WCC which was a major kudo for that mid major basketball oriented conference.
The WAC was almost obliterated and now is pretty much on life support. Remaining members include Utah State, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, and New Mexico State. New football members include Texas State and University of Texas at San Antonio. Denver was added as a basketball only member.
Blood in the water
When the NCAA decided not to reduce penalties for USC it sent an immediate message to Ohio State, North Carolina, Auburn, and Oregon that the eventual penalties they are going to receive are going to be just as harsh once their respective investigations are finished.
Damage control at Ohio State took a torpedo in the side this week when former WR Ray Small said in an interview that everyone on the team was getting special benefits from car dealers, boosters, tattoo artists, and God only knows what else.
Buckeye fans and boosters stayed classy by sending in hate mail and assorted threats.
Small told The Lantern on Wednesday he profited off of memorabilia while at Ohio State, adding that some student-athletes "don't even think about (NCAA) rules."
"I had sold my things but it was just for the money," Small said. "At that time in college, you're kind of struggling."
Small, who played receiver at OSU from 2006-2010, capitalized on the Buckeyes' success during his college career.
"We had four Big Ten rings," he said. "There was enough to go around."
Small said he sold the rings to cover typical costs of living.
"We have apartments, car notes," he said. "So you got things like that and you look around and you're like, ‘Well I got (four) of them, I can sell one or two and get some money to pay this rent."
The wheeling and dealing didn't stop with rings. The best deals came from car dealerships, Small said.
"It was definitely the deals on the cars. I don't see why it's a big deal," said Small, who identified Jack Maxton Chevrolet as the players' main resource.