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Official Husker Locker Blog

2009 Dec 23

Is Mizzou Right About the Big 12?


By HuskerLocker

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There’s a difference between considering an invitation and courting one. Missouri athletic director Mike Alden certainly seems to be playing footsie with the Big Ten in his most recent, lengthy interview with the Columbia Tribune.

If you don’t want to read it all, let sum up Alden’s complaints/qualms about the Big 12:

*When it had the chance, the Big 12 didn’t start its own network and thus didn’t get its own massive TV contract like the Big Ten and SEC, which allowed ESPN to create the SEC Network for it. The Big 12 also doesn’t mandate equal revenue sharing for TV contracts. Texas gets more than Missouri, for example, because UT is on TV more often.

*Missouri fancies itself an excellent academic institution, and the Big Ten prides itself more on these matters than the Big 12 does.

*Missouri feels shafted by not receiving an NCAA Tournament bid for its women’s soccer team in 2009, and getting jobbed out of better bowl games three years in a row.

*Changes in the Big 12 take a 9-3 vote, which is often too difficult a standard to meet.

Let’s address these, one by one:

Revenue. Alden’s partially right. The Big 12 needs to equitably share any current television revenue, for two reasons.

1. It eliminates any notion of influence and unfairness as to which teams make it on television.

2. It levels the playing field a little bit, even though Texas still maintains a huge advantage.

What good reason exists to share the money inequitably? That Baylor, Iowa State and others don’t deserve the cash? Does Indiana deserve it? Does Vanderbilt? League members are league members. Period.

But he’s wrong about the Big 12 reasonably competing with the contracts of the Big Ten and the SEC.

A Big 12 network, should it be created, would pale in comparison to the Big Ten Network. The households in the Big Ten market outstrips the Big 12 by 15-20 percent, depending on whether you count a fraction of New York City, which I would. Second, the Big Ten markets are well-distributed through the region. The two largest Big 12 markets - DFW and Houston - are both in Texas. Another large market, St. Louis, is not exactly exclusive to the Big 12. Another market, Denver, is nearest the Big 12 program (Colorado) with the least enthusiastic fans.

Mostly, though, the Big 12 is a victim of timing and geography. ESPN locked up the Big Ten more than a decade ago because the Northeast - where ESPN is located - has no quality college football. Hence, it defaults to the Big Ten. The SEC is a hot conference right now - after spending most of the 1980s in a fog of NCAA violations and unsuccessful coaching stints - and it struck its $1 billion deal with ESPN right before the market collapsed.

Nebraska - which propped up the Big 12 North - got bad at the wrong time. Kansas State couldn’t sustain its momentum. And Missouri flops in every big game vs. the Big 12 South. What - really - can the league do?

Academics. Mizzou likes to think of itself as the “Harvard of the Plains” and who am I to dissuade them? Alden rhetorically touts the great work of his student-athletes, mentioning only one specific - membership in some Association of American Universities - as a marker for credibility and academic excellence.

Here’s more of what Alden said:

“Another thing that probably is frustrating a little bit for Missouri — and that’s not to disparage any other programs, because there are really fine academic institutions in our entire league, they all are — but academically our student-athletes have done a great job and they’ve really performed at a high level. I think that the perception of the league has to continue to grow because if that doesn’t happen, that doesn’t help Missouri. We’re somewhat of an outlier with how our kids are doing academically. The affiliation with a league that is perceived to be really strong academically is really important to our institution.”

Talk about damning with faint praise. So I looked up the US News and World Report’s best universities ranking for 2010 - a bit arbitrary, I know, but they’re fairly well-researched - and found the following:

Texas, not surprisingly, is best in the Big 12, at No. 47.

Texas A&M was 61st. Colorado is 77th. Baylor is 80th. Iowa State is 88th. Kansas is 96th. Nebraska is 96th. And Missouri - the Harvard of the Plains! - is 102nd. Tied with Oklahoma.

Just one magazine’s rankings, mind you. But still.

As far as student-athletes are concerned, I'd be intrigued to see which measure or standard Alden uses that shows Mizzou's athletes outperforming Nebraska, who leads the nation in Academic All-Americans. Did Mizzou just spend millions on a new student academic life center. Did Mizzou hire the former chairman of TD Ameritrade to provide financial life coaching to student-athletes?

Maybe Alden is referring to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Hard to say. He doesn't reference.

I do think the Big Ten wants a "big-name" academic school. But I think Syracuse or Rutgers fit that bill just as well as Mizzou, and potentially better. And of course Notre Dame does.

That Shafted Feeling. Missouri should feel shafted when it comes to bowls, although Mizzou fans and Alden himself have to take some of the blame. If they think crappy bowl night is going to change in the Big Ten, where the pecking order almost always begins in State College and slowly drifts to the west, they’re nuts. Nothing will change. Mizzou either makes the BCS in the Big Ten, or girds for a tumble.

The Big Ten does have a better selection of bowls, though. Why? Travel. Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all travel like the devil to bowl sites. In the Big 12, once you get past NU, OU, UT and A&M - what do you have on a year-in, year-out basis?

Tags: missouri, big 12

Comments (5)

Profile image for JiminDallas

Overall Missori graduation rates in all sports as compared with
rest of Big XII
Football Men's basketball Women's basketball
BIG 12
Texas Tech 79 Oklahoma St. 92 Texas 100
Nebraska 78 Nebraska 77 Nebraska 100
Baylor 78 Kansas State 67 Colorado 100
Colorado 75 Kansas 64 Iowa State 93
Kansas State 67 Oklahoma 55 Oklahoma St. 89
Oklahoma St. 62 Texas Tech 50 Baylor 88
Missouri 59 Texas A&M 47 Texas Tech 83
Texas A&M 56 Baylor 44 Kansas State 83
Iowa State 55 Missouri 36 Missouri 83
Kansas 53 Colorado 36 Oklahoma 69
Texas 50 Texas 31 Texas A&M 67
Oklahoma 46 Iowa State 29 Kansas 42

67 62 82

– Dec 23, 2009 at 7:55 pm

Profile image for merlin

nice research cletus.

– Dec 23, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Profile image for Gassman

Alphaman, you make some great points. My thought is membership in the little eleven would be much more beneficial for either Missouri or Nebraska. It concerns me greatly that Perlman has not come forth with some sort of statement...the only statement out there is Osborne's saying that it isn't in NU's best interest? Between that and his statement about the aftermath of the "game" a couple of weeks ago, he has lost me again. Unless he has grown some chops in being able to operate in the DC way, say one thing, do whatever you want to regardless, then I am wondering if him being AD is in the best interests of the department.

– Dec 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Profile image for wdpolicky

Mizzou...win your games and consistently perform and you will get the respect you want. In the mean time, go ahead and cry.

From a football perspective or athletics perspective, win. Plain and simple.

– Dec 23, 2009 at 3:03 pm

Profile image for alphaman

Let me first state for the record that I am a Mizzou alumn so I'll admit to my bias. That being said, your analysis of Alden's interview is incomplete.

1) Yes the Big XII network would hit about 20% less households than the Big 10 network. However, the current Big 10 television revenue is $200M. The Big XII's is $80M. Simple math indicates the Big XII network's opportunity is $160M, twice its current revenue.

2) While it is true the Big 10 network is a decade old, Alden's point was that the Big XII had the opportunity to create the Big XII network at the same time but because of revenue sharing and 9-3 super majority issues they couldn't come to an agreement. They missed the opportunity and ended up at end of the line in the television negotiations.

3) SOME Association of American Universities? I would have liked to have seen a minimal amount of research before you made that statement. Here's a quick summary of the AAU:

The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an association of 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada.

Membership in AAU is by invitation and is based on the high quality of programs of academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education in a number of fields, as well as general recognition that a university is outstanding by reason of the excellence of its research and education programs. Information about AAU membership is available here.

A membership committee of AAU presidents and chancellors periodically reviews universities for AAU membership; institutions recommended for membership must be approved by a three-fourths vote of the membership.

Mizzou is a member of an invitation only, 62 member (of which only 34 are public) academic organization. It would appear that this is an elite organization of which ALL Big 10 schools are a member.

4) Measure of Student-Athletes? I believe Alden is referencing the graduation rate of student-athletes. The number of Academic All-Americans is an important stat, but how well an institution graduates its entire student-athlete population is probably a more appropriate measure.

5) Shafted Feeling. There may be a pecking order in the Big 10 but there are also rules that keep a team from being passed over when it had a better season than teams below it, particularly when those teams finished 2 games behind them.

– Dec 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

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