Earlier this month, Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! wrote a fascinating feature on possible conference realignment where he hypothesized that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany masterminded a plot to drain the funds from other schools like those in the Big 12 by convincing those teams to join the Big Ten in eschewing a playoff system that could have brought in four times the revenue of the current bowl system. Delany is painted as a greedy and conniving as he sought power for the Big Ten over what was good for college football. The SEC and the ACC were on board for at least a “Plus One,” but the Big Ten tricked the Big 12 and Pac 10 onto it’s side. It almost worked.
Whether it was an even cleverer ploy by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, excellent timing or just a lot of luck, the Big 12 actually turned the whole ordeal into a way to essentially triple its revenue. And Texas, which was the elephant in the conference realignment boardroom, came out as several times richer and even more likely to be playing for championships.
Does this mean a playoff is now more likely? What is the Big Ten’s next move? How will the Pac 10 proceed? Just because the dust has settled and everything remains pretty close to “normal,” doesn’t mean this conversation is over.
Mack Brown joined the Scott Van Pelt Show on ESPN Radio to talk about what a Pac 16 would have looked like, what he wanted to do, how close Texas got to joining the Pac 10 and the role of money.
On if he would have liked to have played so many good teams in the “Pac 16:”
“I think it’s a yes and a no. The way that the deal was being talked about was that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado would join with Arizona and Arizona State. And you would play those seven each year, so that wouldn’t change who we are too much. Then you would only cross over for two games… Obviously, when you have nine teams on your schedule and you can play each one every year and the possibility of not having a conference championship game, it’s probably an easier road to the BCS for hopefully two teams… What we want at Texas and I would think what most people want, is that we want to win our league and we want to be in the BCS and we want a chance to win the national championship. We think that we have that now, with a better deal than we had with 12 teams. In four of the last 14 years, a team that was going to the national championship game out of the Big 12 lost in the Big 12 championship game. So we lost four opportunities for a national championship because of the game… Right now, we have a true champion when this changes because you are going to have to beat everyone in your league to win your league.”
On what he personally wanted to do:
“I wanted to stay. What we had is the known here… I felt like it was best for us to stay. Our staff was 100%… Our recruiting has been so good to us in this state that they can drive or have short flights to see every game and we like the deal we got.”
On how close Texas got to joining the Pac 10:
“I personally stayed as much out of it as I could because it affected so much more for our institution and tradition and the history of the 14 years in this league and schools that have great relationships through the Big 8 and the Southwest Conference for many years. What I tried to do was answer President Powers and questions about the impact it would have on football. And very honestly, I got the call at 5:00 and they released it at 6:00 that we were doing that. I thought we would be fine any way. I knew our staff wanted to make the Big 12 work if they could. Our reasoning was talking to our players and their parents, recruiting in the state of Texas, we thought that the regional conference was better for our kids so the parents could see them play. A lot of our fans could more easily get to games. Their high school coaches could get to see them play. This is what we have been used to for our 13 years here, so we really didn’t want to see it change.”
And on the impact of the new economic plan:
“Last year, I think, I was told, that only 19 athletic programs in America that play Division I football made some money. Everyone else is in trouble. For anyone to think that the money is not important, is fooling themselves. For anyone to think that money is not made by the football programs, it is. Some people have said that Texas was greedy. Bill Powers, Deloss Dodds and my job are to take care of Texas. At the same time, we wanted to keep the game with A&M. We wanted to keep the game with Oklahoma. We wanted to keep the series with a lot of the teams we played. And we liked our partners in the Big 12. I think what happened was, at the last minute, some people stepped up that really wanted the Big 12 to stay. It gave Deloss and Bill an opportunity to get what they wanted and that was for all of us to stay together and get a much better deal than we had before.”