Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 May 30
KC Drama? Or A Long, Silent Poker Game?
Scene: Lobby of some hotel. Ferns or something dying in the recycled air conditioning. You know how hotel air smells. Even good hotel air. Not like some pretty woman, I know that. Anyway, scribes shift their weight from one foot to another, swap old stories, curse some, check out some cute girl’s rear end and swig diet soda. Perhaps a few eat crackers from one those two-saltine packages hotels stash behind the bar.
The double doors of a conference room burst open. Mizzou athletic director Mike Alden leads the charge. Behind him are Tom Osborne, his face as red as it was at halftime of the 1981 Auburn game, and Harvey Perlman, his usual poker face drawn into a mild frown of “oh dear.”
The Mizzou media descends on Alden, a balloon ready to pop. But Osborne looks so put-out that a good number of cameras head right to him, too.
What happened in there?
“Well, you know, Dan, he, well…” Osborne cannot make a joke. He considers a dadgummit. Or a goshdarnit.
Perlman interjects: “What Tom’s trying to say is Dan asked us where we stood. Whether we were, you know, on the plane.”
Alden turns around, screaming to no one in particular: “We said there is no plane! And if they try to conjure up a plane, we’ll blow up the damn plane!”
Cue the air marshal who just happened to be staying in the hotel, walking off the elevator, hearing Alden, and triggering an international incident.
Yeah, so, back to reality.
The Big 12 meetings are likely to be a dud for the newsboys, and a game of poker inside the meeting room. At least as it pertains to Big Ten expansion. You may get a healthy dose of speculation, rumblings and inside chatter for your enjoyment and message board fodder. A few more papers might sell. A few more eyes on the Internet. Will it be real news? Probably not.
So what if Missouri’s peeved with the Big 12, Oklahoma’s a little peeved with the Tigers and Nebraska and everybody’s a little wary of Texas? Absent an offer from the Big Ten, there’s no position for Mizzou and NU to disclose.
The take here: Nebraska and Missouri will merely reaffirm their commitment to making the Big 12 the best it can be.
The meetings are an opportunity for Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe - the “Dan” from the above imagined anecdote - to present his most persuasive case for the league staying intact. And try to do it without making promises he can’t keep. He’s shot off his mouth now to the appropriate media outlets in Missouri, so he’s likely to play nice in KC. Beebe could push for tougher financial penalties if schools leave the league. Good luck seeing that one get passed by 75 percent, or nine schools, of the league.
And it could be intriguing to see Big 12 members press UT for concessions on revenue sharing. If Texas is creating its own network anyway, what’s a few million in network TV dollars worth to the Longhorns, right?
If Texas really wants to keep its dream league as is, athletic director DeLoss Dodds can calm a lot of pitter-pattering hearts. UT has the donor base and chutzpa to go independently rogue if it really wants - it’s senselessly Machiavellian and spiteful toward the fan base, but it’s possible - and Dodds’ charm can go some distance in softening those concerns. And Beebe can project confidence in a Big 12/Pac-10 TV merger that could benefit both parties - plus set up some nifty non-conference matchups.
If only the Big 12 had a stock listing, you could follow it over the next week, gauging the confidence of its members based on whether shares were bought or sold. You might have a concrete barometer.
But all readers are likely to get are a few cryptic words. Full of vagaries and platitudes, signifying nothing.
In a real business world, a meeting like this would be rescheduled. In government, the matter would be tabled. But sports conferences apparently lack such flexibility. And so, the biggest thing to come out of Kansas City this week figures to be the T-bones at dinner.
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