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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Texas may seem attractive to Big Ten, but transition would not make sense

With the emphasis on tradition in college football, the rumors that the flagship school of the Lone Star State could be joining the only BCS conference with a mathematically incorrect name seem just a bit out of place. Such a move would disrupt geographic harmony, cut off rivalries and possibly begin the death of a top conference.

And that's not really the biggest problem.

Adding Texas to the Big Ten conference does not make sense in the grand scheme of college football.* It pushes the conference into the uncomfortable spot of a two-division league with a title game, a proposition too many have decided is good without really knowing why.

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*Note that this is only looking at the fabric of the sport itself and avoiding matters of money, politics or academics. The answers to those questions can be found in the addendum at the bottom of this article.

See, 12-team conferences with their title games are not the future of the sport, they are now just overrated. Three conferences have tried it, and it's been a mess for two of them.

The SEC title game is perfect, mostly because Atlanta is a natural center for the south, and most of the time divisions are balanced enough for a decent matchup. This, however, is the exception.

The Big 12's game kept moving around and at times struggled with attendance. Furthermore, the game has on four different occasions cost the league a shot at the national title (two other times it should have, but overrated Nebraska and Oklahoma teams got in anyway, only to spit up all over themselves, bringing humiliation for all).

How soon we forget the Texas-Texas Tech-Oklahoma debacle of last year.

Lastly, and most relevant, is the ACC's ill-fated expansion. Sure, the additions were an all-time powerhouse (Miami) as well as a pair of good to great programs (Virginia Tech, Boston College). Throw that in with a team as dominant as Florida State was, and what could go wrong?

Oh yeah, everything.

The ACC has become a joke, a punch line and a bottom-feeder. It's teams constantly lose whatever important bowl games the rules allow them into, and their conference race always seems to be a mess. The title game has been hardly viewed and sparsely attended (fewer than 43,000 this year), and that's the trend the Big Ten wants to follow?

Where does the title game go? Maybe Chicago or Indianapolis, but will Texans enjoy traveling over 1,000 miles into very foreign territory for that game? Probably not.

The powers that be would need to make two divisions, a process that would further distort the football landscape since Penn State, OSU and Michigan would almost surely get trapped together in an eastern division, leaving Texas alone in the west. This is a recipe for chaos.

If the conference were facing tough times, this might matter, but it isn't.

Every year two Big Ten teams got to the BCS, and at no point has one of the Midwest's best been screwed out of a national title game spot. Even though many media types champion the league's demise, the failure to produce more dominant teams falls on programs themselves rather than the conference's construction.

Oh yeah, and commissioner Jim Delany presided over $242 million in TV revenue, more than the Big XII, Pac-10, ACC and Big East combined (oops, this column isn't about money... but if it were, there you go).

So to review, newer 12-team conferences usually suck, and the Big Ten is in pretty good shape. Simple, really.

You don't mess with what's working, and in that spirit, the Big Ten shouldn't mess with Texas.

Think the Badgers would provide a worthy western division foe for Texas? Tell Ben why and share any other ridiculous thoughts at breiner@wisc.edu.

 

Online addendum:

More reasons Texas shouldn't join the Big Ten

On the financial side it's a push. The Big Ten already makes the more money than any other conference but could make more with the Texas market. UT can pretty much write its own check to whatever conference it chooses. It now gets more than an equal share of the Big 12 TV revenue (which totals a third of the Big Ten's).

UT could join the Pac-10, Big 10 or even go independent, start its own channel and build a schedule of scrubs and historical rivals like Arkansas and Okalahoma. Having the BTN already there might help, but strict revenue sharing is a drawback. Again, a push.

Also consider the politics that formed the Big XII. The only reason Baylor is even in there stems from Texas politicians who did not want to see their school left behind. Yeah, Texas should have a real easy time getting out of that one.

On academics, it doesn't really matter. The ACC is the best, Pac-10 and Big 10 are similar. Either way, it's a foolish way to pick athletic conferences.

 

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