Morning Five: 09.06.11 EditionPosted by rtmsf on September 6th, 2011
- Are we on the verge of the conference realignment free-for-all that we thought was going to happen last summer? Texas A&M’s insistence on leaving the Big 12 presumably for the greener pastures of the SEC to the east, has the rest of the league running for cover. Reports over the weekend suggested that once again Texas and Oklahoma are in backroom discussions with the Pac-12 to join the burgeoning west coast league, and like great white sharks in the Pacific, the other four major conferences are circling the remaining schools in hopes of divvying up the rest. Conventional wisdom is that if Oklahoma bails on the Big 12, the league is effectively finished, but it is the school in Austin who holds the trump card. One of the sticking points is what the Pac-12 would require UT to do with its Longhorn Sports Network — would it become one of the Pac-12’s new regional networks instead of a ‘national’ channel? Or will Texas leverage its channel into another sweetheart deal, as suggested as possible on Monday when rumors of an ACC overture to the Longhorns were revealed? ACC commissioner John Swofford denied that report Monday night, but the possibility of a 16-team basketball league containing Duke, UNC, Maryland, Texas, Syracuse and UConn seems absolutely ridiculous. In a good way. The one thing we know from conference realignment madness is that nothing should surprise anyone. More news on this topic as it merits coverage, but for a comprehensive breakdown of the facts and rumors swirling right now, check out MrSEC’s wrapup from Monday.
- Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneurial success story (twice over) Mark Cuban has never been one to hold his tongue on an issue he cares about, and his post on Blog Maverick over the weekend is no different. Bucking conventional wisdom to a certain extent, Cuban argues that the headfirst plunge by several schools into a group of a few superconferences will turn out to be a “huge mistake.” He lists several intriguing reasons to support his argument, but the most compelling from our viewpoint was his discussion of how adding schools to a conference will not increase the value of the television contracts of the bigger league. There must be some exceptions to this ‘rule,’ as in an example where Texas joins any other conference, but Cuban has forgotten more about media rights and deal-making than we’ll ever know so we’re generally inclined to figure he knows what he’s talking about here.
- Regardless of how the conference realignment mess ultimately settles out, the development and existence of Texas’ Longhorn Network has led to an arms race among individual schools seeking to reach their fans in the most direct way. Over the weekend, another Big 12 school announced its response, as the University of Missouri is set to launch Internet-based The Mizzou Network on December 1. The mostly free channel will broadcast games and competitions from non-revenue sports in addition to ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses at Tiger football and basketball, but it’s clear that the Texas/ESPN deal has put the pressure on athletic departments around the nation to progress or get left behind. It’s yet to be determined whether a cable television model in the mold of LHN (currently having trouble getting traction with national carriers) or a fully digital network in the mold of Missouri’s (which can reach all of its fans directly) produces better outcomes for the school, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the biggest winners will be fans with team-specific content available to them 24/7.
- Now that schools are back in session for the fall semester almost everywhere, this is the time of year we start to see players with too much free time on their hands getting into trouble prior to returning to full-time practice in six weeks. Over the weekend, Wake Forest sophomore guard JT Terrell was discovered asleep at the wheel of his car and charged with a DWI for a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. Terrell, a promising freshman last season who averaged 11.1 PPG for the Demon Deacons, has since withdrawn from the school and is reported to be suffering from a “serious medical condition.” Terrell represents the fourth WFU player to leave the school under difficult circumstances in the year-plus since head coach Jeff Bzdelik arrived. Wake also announced that senior center Ty Walker will not become eligible to join the team until after the fall semester, stemming from a suspension placed upon him in July.
- Moving over the Missouri Valley Conference, Drake also announced that two of its players including its leading returning scorer, Rayvonte Rice, will be suspended effective immediately for their alleged role in a petty shoplifting incident. He and teammate Kurt Alexander, a senior guard, are accused of putting two packages of athletic socks into a bag and exiting a Finish Line store without paying for them. Rice had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of Drake basketball last year, averaging 13.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG and also leading the team in blocks and steals. He was a member of the MVC all-freshman and all-newcomer teams and was expected to become an all-MVC performer this year. The two players told the police officer on the scene that they were “young and dumb” to explain their actions, and to that comment we can do nothing more than shake our heads. Young and dumb, indeed.