Official Husker Locker Blog
2009 Dec 23
Is Mizzou Right About the Big 12?
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?
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