I won’t spend too much time recapping all the events of the past week. If you are reading an article on a sports blog, I’ll assume you have been keeping up with the latest news. But for this piece I want to focus on the recent developments of the Big 12 leadership seemingly making moves to try and keep Texas and Oklahoma. This past weekend it was reported by Dennis Dodd that the conference had floated the idea of giving the two schools extra revenue to entice them to stay. In addition, on Sunday the Big 12 confirmed that it had met with some of the leadership from Texas and Oklahoma. Of course, there is also some political pressure that might play a role. We don’t know if there is still a chance of the conference staying intact or not, but it does look like the Big 12 is making an effort. Understandably, I have seen a lot of indignation from fans from the other Big 12 schools in regards to that proposal. Nobody likes the thought of appeasing two schools that have that kind of leverage over you. Some would rather go anywhere else than be stuck with Sooners and Longhorns. I’m not sure what moves could convince them to stay, but if it’s as simple as letting them take the lead on renegotiating tv contracts or a little more revenue, as long as it’s not too unreasonable I would be okay with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I share the same frustration and disappointment for Texas and OU like the majority of fans. The optics would be awful, and in a world where memes and one-liners rule the day, the rest of the country would have a field day on the conference. My perspective is a little bit different, however. I’ve seen so many analogies comparing the situation to war, marriage, and other serious situations. I’m as big of a Baylor and college football as you can get, but I can honestly say it’s just not that serious. Playing football in a conference is not even close to some religious covenant and we are not sharing a foxhole with anyone. It’s about the ability to play sports in a league with other schools. That’s it. To me, it should be as simple as figuring out basic math and opportunity costs. If Baylor and the other schools could possibly make more money in the Big 12 even after giving up a certain percentage to Texas & OU, than they could in another conference that might or might not come calling, you stick with what you got. Even if it’s not guaranteed to last past 2025. Losing a few million more a year would stink for sure, but it’s much more preferable than losing 15-20 million more a year.
Probably the most common counter argument is that if the Big 12 appeased the two schools it would almost certainly just be a band-aid until the next time they felt disgruntled. And although I completely agree with that assessment, buying yourself another 5 years or so in this college football landscape might just be worth it. The sport is on the brink of making historic changes, and it’s possible that it will shift dramatically. There’s the waning interest on the pacific coast, possible playoff expansion, NIL issues, new transfer rules, and the streaming services possibly being more involved just to name a few. Who knows, it’s possible the sport reverts back to a more regional based structure eventually.
My thoughts during a typical game week are probably similar to yours. First, which family/friends can I enjoy the game with this week and what are the logistics involved in that, such as seating, watch parties, tailgating, etc. Second, thinking about the actual performance from the players and coaches. That won’t change if Baylor finds itself making a couple of million dollars less a year. The truth is the casual fans that are loudest on social media platforms won’t see a dime of any increased revenue. No casual fan will. Trash talk about revue is offseason fodder until the ball gets kicked off in September. Think about it this way—would it be any less enjoyable for Horned Frog fans if TCU increased its record against Texas to 8-2 since joining the Big 12, even if Texas will earn more money from the conference? If Oklahoma State or Iowa State beat Oklahoma for a Big 12 title this year, would their fans trade it in because Oklahoma had veto power on any new tv contract? And when Baylor won the national championship in basketball this year the last thing on my mind was how much more money Texas gets to bring into their school because of the Longhorn Network. Who really cares? Again, if you're worried about what people on Twitter are bragging about, just remember this is money that 99% of fans will never sniff. It will go to a corporate suite you will likely never sit in, or in an upgrade to a locker or weight room that will be unnecessary in 2021. I would much rather spend my time on this hobby enjoying the actual games. Simply put, the fun part of college athletics is watching your school compete on the field, court and diamond, not discussing revenue on social media platforms.
It goes without saying that the situation is changing on a daily basis. After reading the joint statement on Monday morning from Texas and OU stating that they plan to keep their commitment with the current negotiated contracts, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that something might be worked out. I’ve heard credible people who follow the sport closely throw out possibilities in which all of the big brand football schools in every conference eventually will break away at some point and join a super league. Now is not the time for emotional feelings to get in the way. If there’s no guarantee of greener pastures for Baylor then play in the conference where you make solid money and the fans can enjoy it.