The RTC Podblast: Mock NCAA Selection Committee Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 14th, 2014

It’s Friday, it’s Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time for another tearjerking edition of the RTC Podblast. As we head into a holiday weekend (bookended!) and the countdown of only four weeks until Selection Sunday, the guys are ready to focus on the selection of the field for the 2014 NCAA Tournament. To help us with that task, FoxSports.com‘s Reid Forgrave (@reidforgrave) joined us for this week’s Rush the Takes, as he is currently participating in the NCAA’s mock selection committee exercise in Indianapolis. As always, Shane Connolly (@sconnolly114) hosts, and some of the revelations from Forgrave on how teams like Pittsburgh and Wichita State are being evaluated is certainly interesting.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast/podblast on iTunes so that you’ll get all of the episodes immediately downloaded to your listening device.

  • 0:00-8:22 – Syracuse Continues To Prove Themselves
  • 8:22-12:55 – Pitt Continues to Drop Chances
  • 12:55-14:38 – The Surprising Postponement of Duke-UNC
  • 14:38-15:45 – Quick Takes on Tuesday Action
  • 15:45-29:28 – Rush The Takes With Reid Forgrave
  • 29:28-37:00 – Weekend Preview
Share this story

Big 12 M5: Cyber Monday Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 26th, 2012

  1. It was the weekend’s best game involving a Big 12 team. Why? Because it actually involved TWO Big 12 teams! Oklahoma and West Virginia met for the first time as conference mates at the Old Spice Classic on Sunday afternoon. Now this doesn’t count as a conference game but it appears the Mountaineers have yet to fully recover from the shellacking they received from Gonzaga two weeks ago. Oklahoma on the other hand stands at 4-1 with Lon Kruger running 10 to 11 guys on the floor with success. There’s still plenty of time for WVU to get its act together before league play although they’ll face a couple of tough December tests with rival Marshall and ex-coach John Beilein’s Michigan Wolverines.
  2. Speaking of the Old Spice Classic, the 2013 field was announced and it is definitely more balanced than the 2012 editionOklahoma State, who wiped the floor with this year’s Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament, will be the Big 12 participant with a number of other programs on the rise like Butler, LSU and Saint Joseph’s, as well as Memphis, Purdue, Siena, and Washington State. Can’t wait for Feast Week ’13.
  3. Interesting read from CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander on the struggles of Rodney McGruder in Bruce Weber’s new offensive scheme at Kansas State. Sure the article was written in the wake of Michigan putting the beat down on K-State at the Preseason NIT on Friday night, but his numbers tell the story: shooting career lows from the field (39.7%), beyond the arc (16.7%) and a per-game scoring average currently lower than his sophomore campaign (11.0). McGruder cites him getting teammates involved and getting used to the “constant movement” in Weber’s offense as reasons for the slump, so hopefully, one of the conference’s best players on one of the conference’s best teams will again become the all-Big 12 player we know he can be.
  4. What is up with Baylor? The Bears fell hard at home to the College of Charleston Saturday night and critics doubting Scott Drew’s coaching skills are getting loud again. The Bears played at home, and their opponent was a first-year head coach with zero tournament experience — not that it matters a whole lot in late November. But this is a game you’re supposed to win, Baylor. They will have to lick their wounds quickly as they meet up with John Calipari and his young bunch of Wildcats on Saturday of this week.
  5. Some boring but important media news concerning the Oklahoma State athletic department. Fox Sports has locked up the Big 12 school for additional multimedia rights. This deal allows Fox to air one football game per year, plus men’s hoops coverage and other Olympic sports that aren’t included in the school’s TV deal with the conference. With the addition of Oklahoma State now secured, Fox has similar deals with fellow Big 12ers Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas Christian, and Kansas State while Oklahoma has launched its own package, similar to that of ESPN’s Longhorn Network.
Share this story

Morning Five: 09.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 17th, 2012

  1. In the wake of last week’s announcement by Notre Dame that it was leaving the Big East to join the ACC in all sports except football, new Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said on Friday that his league is not dead, and as a matter of fact, is still “the strongest basketball conference in the country.” We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here and assume that when he made reference to conference strength he was talking about the upcoming season only — before he loses the likes of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame from his lineup of stalwart programs. At the end of the day, much will be written about the relative strength of the two leagues once all the realignment moves have propagated, but from our view a top eight of UNC, Duke, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Maryland, Florida State and NC State looks equal to or better than Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati, Marquette, Memphis, Georgetown, Villanova and Temple. Of course, the bottom half of the Big East is where the ACC really increases its lead — UCF, SMU, Rutgers, DePaul and the rest have no business competing with programs like Virginia, Miami, Clemson and Wake Forest.
  2. Right on cue, Luke Winn last week analyzed a similar comment made by Aresco (“We’re still the strongest top-to-bottom basketball conference in the country.”) in his own inimitable way. Winn used KenPom efficiency data to compare leagues based on their current configuration and their new configurations, and with the caveat that past performance does not accurately predict future success, the Big East as a whole falls from the second-best basketball conference over the last 10 seasons to sixth. As he notes, “realignment has made the Big East the weakest top-to-bottom major conference, not the strongest.” He also shows a chart exhibiting that only four of the top 11 leagues have improved themselves on the hardwood through conference realignment — the WCC, ACC, Atlantic 10, and SEC. Each of these leagues has added at least one solid basketball school to its mix.
  3. Sam Cassell caused a commotion upon his entry to the ACC two decades ago with his brashness, outspoken demeanor, and his talent on the court. Late last week some of those same characteristics came to bear as the now-Washington Wizards assistant spoke to Jeff Goodman about the NCAA’s rejection of his son’s appeal to play as a freshman next season at Maryland. Comparing the organization to “neighborhood bullies” and accusing the governing body of wanting “kids to fail,” Cassell is clearly unhappy with the NCAA’s decision to invalidate courses his son took at Notre Dame Prep as a high school junior even though other players such as Pittsburgh’s Khem Birch and Marquette’s Todd Mayo took the exact same courses and were eligible to play last season. Cassell, Jr., has not made a decision on what his next step will be, but
  4. The other player hurt by the NCAA’s decision to invalidate those Notre Dame Prep courses may not have a famous father to speak on his behalf, but Myles Davis will sit out next year at Xavier — paying his own way — and he’ll have some additional company doing it. Jalen Reynolds, another member of Chris Mack’s incoming recruiting class, was deemed ineligible by the NCAA on Friday for a similar issue, and he too will have to sit out the entire 2012-13 season while paying his own tuition at XU. With these two losses and the recent expulsion of Dez Wells, Xavier is now down to only eight scholarship players — none of whom were significant contributors on last year’s Sweet Sixteen team. The Musketeers’ first season in a revamped Atlantic 10 boasting new instant impact programs Butler and VCU will certainly be interesting with such a young and inexperienced squad — Mack will need to find a way to work miracles on the banks of the Ohio River if he plans on keeping Xavier’s NCAA Tournament streak of seven straight seasons alive.
  5. College basketball is legitimately just around the corner, and what better way to get your juices flowing than to read an interview with Gus Johnson. Johnson, of course, is spending his time nowadays as the lead college football announcer on Fox while also doing some Big Ten Network work on the side. This Q&A with Johnson isn’t necessarily ground-breaking in its breadth, but there were two college basketball takeaways that came out of it. First, and perhaps unsurprisingly since Johnson is a Detroit guy and given his obvious enthusiasm during games, he said he has long admired Dick Vitale as a sportscaster. Next, out of all the great games he’s covered over the years, his favorite? The 1996 NCAA Tournament Princeton upset over the defending national champions, UCLA. Give us more Gus, anytime.
Share this story

Morning Five: 07.03.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 3rd, 2012

  1. Georgia Tech incoming freshman Corey Heyward will likely miss the entire 2012-13 season because of a torn ACL injury that he suffered in a pickup game late last week. The six-foot guard who spent a postgraduate year at Hargraves Military Academy was expected to contribute immediately as a backup for starting point guard Mfon Udofia, but short of a miraculously quick recovery between now and the new year, Brian Gregory will have to wait on Heyward’s first minutes in a Yellow Jacket uniform. Gregory has an experienced group of starters returning next season from a 4-12 last-place ACC finisher, but it remains to be seen whether all that returning talent will equate to wins.
  2. A total of 10 schools lost lottery picks in last week’s NBA Draft, with Connecticut, Kentucky and North Carolina combining for seven, equivalent to half of the lottery selections. Jason King takes a look at how each team plans on replacing the lost talent, ultimately concluding that most of the programs that put players in this year’s lottery will just move on to its next generation of stars. A couple of programs are notable exceptions, though — Weber State’s Damian Lillard was a once-in-a-lifetime type of player for the Wildcats, while Illinois’ Meyers Leonard‘s ascent up the draft boards this year was a bit flukish and, as such, it will take John Groce some time to get his program turned around in Champaign.
  3. We noted in a piece yesterday that a number of prominent seniors were left at the draft altar last week, thanking them for four years of memories and wishing them the best of luck in pursuing their professional dreams wherever they end up. Matt Norlander took us two steps further with his article Monday dissecting the commonly held perception that recognizable and talented seniors no longer exist in college basketball. His back-of-the-envelope analysis of the number of seniors drafted in the one-and-done era shows that roughly a third of the draft is populated by the likes of Festus Ezeli, Tyler Zeller, Damian Lillard, Draymond Green, and others each year, and it is many of these folks who drive the sport forward just as much or perhaps even more so than the much considerably smaller one-and-done percentage that gets so much of the annual hype. Interesting piece — read it and see what you think.
  4. It’s a light news week, so what the hell… ESPN’s college basketball and football princess, Erin Andrews, has left the network and will move on to Fox Sports as a college football, MLB and NFL reporter. For a period in the middle part of the last decade, Andrews’ basketball broadcasts were very nearly must-see TV for males under the age of ever 50. As her personal brand grew, her hoops appearances became increasingly fewer but it appears that in her new gig at Fox she’ll no longer have access to the hardwood where she earned so much of her cred. We certainly want to wish her nothing but the best as she moves on to the network featuring none other than Joe Buck and Terry Bradshaw.
  5. If you’re not cheatin’, you’re not tryin’ — so goes the old adage about life in the SEC. Charles Barkley minces no words about his stance on the issue of paying amateurs to attend certain schools (ahem, Auburn) with this hilarious clip from a celebrity softball game where he describes a teenage Dirk Nowitzki destroying Team USA in a 1997 exhibition game. The choicest series of quotes went like this: “So I call Nike and I said, ‘find out about this kid and tell him I’ll give him anything he wants to go to Auburn. Just tell him, anything he wants, we’ll get it done.’ […] “In the SEC, dude, we make sure you’re well taken care of.” Barkley went on to say that an alleged payment of $200,000 for Cam Newton seemed like a pretty good deal, considering that he led the Tigers to a national championship in his only season on the Plains. When is the Chuckster running for governor again?

Share this story

Morning Five: 05.11.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 11th, 2011

  1. Might there be a Gus Johnson reprieve?  Yesterday we wrote about how incredibly disappointed we were that Gus had decided to take his talents to Fox Sports in coming years, effectively ending his career with CBS and seemingly eliminating any more future chances for Heartbreak City! Michael Hiestand of USA Today writes, though, that his new employer would have no problem with ‘loaning out’ Gus to CBS/Turner during future NCAA Tournaments should they want him for their wall-to-wall coverage (see: ESPN’s Jay Bilas, for example).  That last bit is the key part, right there.  As popular as Gus was among college basketball fans under the age of 40, his departure was in some ways political in nature, and we figure it would be tough for CBS to bring back someone who rejected their final offer and left for another network (jilted girlfriend theory).  Still, a glimmer of hope in what appeared to be cavernous darkness…
  2. Now that the Maryland job search is over, it’s Texas A&M’s turn.  Athletic Director Bill Byrne has quite a tough job ahead of him given the success of his two previous hires, Mark Turgeon and Billy Gillispie, but according to TSN, native Houstonian and Memphis head coach Josh Pastner is not available.  The Houston Chronicle reported on Tuesday that Marquette’s Buzz Williams was now A&M’s primary target, but his buyout and salary were probably too rich for TAMU to match.  This leaves a reported list of three intriguing names — Nebraska’s Doc Sadler, Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, and Colorado’s Tad Boyle.  Of the three, Marshall would appear to be the kind of coach in the Gillispie/Turgeon vein to seem the best fit, with demonstrated success at the mid-major level and the requisite ambition to make it at the highest level.
  3. Luke Winn breaks down the somewhat embarrassing coaching searches that went on at four ACC schools so far this offseason — NC State, Miami (FL), Georgia Tech, and most recently, Maryland.  Among the four schools, roughly eight to ten candidates (depending on who you ask) turned these  programs down in favor of their current schools that, by and large, would have represented stepping stones to bigger things in the not-too-distant past.  Mark Few at Gonzaga began this trend last decade: an absurd notion that a coach could build an A-list program at a non-BCS school, short of the pressures of insane fan bases but with nearly as much exposure, recruiting penetration and success as many of the big boys.  More recently, Brad Stevens at Butler, Tommy Amaker at Harvard, Shaka Smart at VCU and Chris Mooney at Richmond have decided to stick with the devil they know rather than the one they don’t, and we can’t truly say we blame them.  This is especially true in a league like the ACC, where the twin titans of Duke and Carolina lord over the league nearly every year and it’s extremely difficult to challenge and (even temporarily) overcome them.  Gary Williams did it as well as it’s been done in the last twenty years, but we don’t blame coaches who think they’d be walking into situations where they’re mostly set up to fail.
  4. A bit of transfer news from Tuesday… Kansas State forward and overall disappointment Wally Judge has decided that he will play his final two seasons at Rutgers, ultimately betting on the future of Mike Rice’s program rather than to take a chance at Maryland with new head coach Mark Turgeon.  The 6’9, 248-lb former McDonald’s All-American averaged 6/4 in around fifteen minutes per game last year before leaving the K-State program in late January.  Meanwhile, NC State point guard Ryan Harrow has announced the schools he will visit in coming weeks, including Kentucky, Louisville, St. John’s, Georgia and Texas.  The odds-on favorite is SJU, as both of Harrow’s folks are products of Queens and consider the Johnnies their hometown school.  Whoever gets the freshman will be getting a talented floor leader, as Harrow averaged 9/3 in 23 minutes per game and started most of the Wolfpack’s contests at the end of last season.
  5. Love or hate the man as a comedian-cum-superstar center or lazy, out-of-shape impresario who wasted some of his best playing years getting involved in things other than basketball, but there can be no question that Shaquille O’Neal possesses a heart of pure gold when it comes to his generosity.  Anyone who has watched his Shaq-a-Claus bit each winter, or has heard the numerous off-record stories about his many random acts of incredible kindness to regular Joes, knows this truth.  So when we read that Shaq was resisting the placement of a life-sized statue of himself outside the new LSU practice facility that he helped pay for, consider us completely unsurprised.  It turns out that the Big Aristotle has been anonymously putting millions into LSU infrastructure for years, including to help pay for an on-campus hotel and an academic center, contributions to the point that two LSU Board of Supervisors members demanded that Shaq’s statue go up first — even ahead of the man whose name adorns the arena, Pete Maravich.  We’ve said for a long time that we’ve never seen another player at 19 years old who could do the things at his size that Shaq could do, but we were always referring to his athleticism and stature; it turns out we might have been unwittingly also referring to the big fella’s ticker, and we didn’t even know it.  Here’s what the statue will look like, if Shaq ever approves its completion.

Best Collegian We've Ever Seen At His Size

Share this story

Truly “Heartbreak City!!” Gus Officially Leaves CBS…

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2011

Ok, maybe we’re being a little melodramatic, but with the news that Gus Johnson is officially moving on to Fox Sports and the knowledge that CBS/Turner has the broadcast rights to the NCAA Tournament through 2024 (a/k/a eternity), we’re feeling like some sinister executive grinch has canceled Christmas next year.   And the year after.  And the next one.  And the one after that… well, you get the point.

So long, Gus.  For the generation that was raised on March Madness as a national treasure, you will always be the voice of college basketball — far more than that green-jacket-slurping bore Jim Nantz could ever be.  We hope that you are given just as much freedom to bring  your purity of excitement and unadulterated joy to college sports over at your new gig, and you can count on us checking out some Big Ten (on BTN) and Pac-12 (on FSN) hoops next season just to hear you work your magic again.

In the meantime, here are a couple of compilations we found of Gus’ best work.  Enjoy it — it pains us to type this, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever hear it during March Madness again.

Share this story

Morning Five: 05.10.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 10th, 2011

  1. As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Maryland has itself a new head coachMark Turgeon may not be the sexy name that many Terp fans were hoping for, but the fact of the matter is that the guy has throughout his career put a consistently solid product on the floor regardless of talent.  His teams are tough-minded, they play sticky defense, and they win — he averaged 24 wins per year at Texas A&M and 22 wins in his last four seasons at Wichita State.  Not everyone agrees, but the general consensus is that Maryland AD Kevin Anderson made a solid if not spectacular hire, but that Turgeon’s chops will ultimately be earned by how well he learns to recruit in the fecund DC/Baltimore prep basketball scene.  We certainly won’t disagree with that, but if Turgeon’s recruiting matches his demonstrated competitiveness, the rest of the ACC is not going to enjoy visiting College Park any more than it did much of the last twenty years — the only difference is that instead of wondering how they scored 75 points and lost by double figures, visiting teams will come out perplexed in how they ended up with bloodied noses, bruises all over their bodies, and put up only 50.
  2. CBS, CBS, CBS… what on earth are you doing?  Last week it was prematurely reported that Gus Johnson was leaving CBS Sports (and by proxy, the NCAA Tournament), when in reality he had only received an offer from Fox Sports that CBS would have an opportunity to match.  Many, ourselves included, presumed that CBS would make the smart decision and keep Gus, the vox populi of college basketball, on board.  And this is why we weren’t business majors… because CBS did no such thing.  The Blinking Eye network let him walk (apparently, politics, in addition to dollars, was involved), and Fox Sports and the NFL are the major beneficiaries.  All we know is that Pac-12 games just got 1000% more interesting next season, and it’s not because Jorge Gutierrez and Trent Lockett are returning to school.  For a very insightful piece examining the ins and outs of  his employment situation, read Awful Announcing’s excellent analysis on the paradox of Gus Johnson here.
  3. We stumbled across this interesting post from Rock Chalk Talk about the state of college basketball, at least as viewed from a partisan Kansas writer.  While we understand where he’s coming from in terms of this statement: “We’re at a point now where the best teams still get the best talent, but they never become a team,” we have trouble seeing the natural consequence of parity as a bad thing.  The beauty of the NCAA Tournament (along with the World Cup and the NFL Playoffs, to name two other worldwide favorites) is that top seeds can be beaten if they don’t bring their absolute best game every given night; underdogs and upsets are what keep the casual fans interested.  He seems to fail to recognize that the transformation of the NCAA Tournament to March Madness began in the 1980s when NC State (1983), Villanova (1985) and his very own Kansas Jayhawks (1988) captured the imagination of American sports fans with their rags-to-riches Cinderella stories.  While it’s true that the quality of college basketball has been hurt by the onslaught of early entries to the NBA Draft every single spring, that problem is not a recent phenomenon.  It began nearly twenty years ago and  accelerated throughout the 1990s to the point where the top 8-10 high school players each year were skipping college altogether by the middle of last decade, thereby hurting the overall product.  The piece makes some good points, but it reads a bit like someone decrying parity and a bad product to explain his team’s #1 seed meltdowns to Cinderellas prior to the Final Four the last two years.
  4. Robert Morris sophomore guard Karon Abraham was suspended for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his second alcohol offense (underage drinking) in the last six months (he also had a DUI conviction last November).  According to head coach Andy Toole, the Colonials’ best player was “shocked” by this decision, and given that he will not be allowed to work out with the team next season, we have to wonder if he’ll consider transferring to another school that will give him  an opportunity to stay on the court (even as just a practice player in 2011-12).  He definitely needs to get his head on straight here, but RMU’s decision is punitive enough to make us think that he might consider it.
  5. VCU head coach Shaka Smart continues to live the dream, fresh off his first Final Four appearance and a nice contract extension, by throwing out the first pitch in a weekend game between the Cubs and Reds at Wrigley Field.  Perhaps sensing that he hadn’t done enough, he also sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh inning stretch.  Let’s hope he hangs on to his day job for a little longer, eh?

Share this story

Gus Johnson and CBS, Together No More

Posted by jstevrtc on May 5th, 2011

Richard Deitsch of SI.com has reported that play-by-play icon Gus Johnson and CBS could not come to terms on a new contract and have thus parted ways. No more Gus Johnson buzzer-beaters at NCAA Tournament time, folks.

Yeah, This Makes Total Sense.

According to Mr. Deitsch, Johnson has been in talks with Fox Sports to work college football games, given the network’s move to increase their profile in that sport. There is no mention as to whether Gus’ position calling college basketball for the Big Ten Network is affected by this. As Deitsch points out, Fox owns a nice big chunk of the BTN, and they’re also (obviously) a player in the recent deal between themselves, ESPN, and the Pac-10, a package that includes 68 college basketball games.

Johnson is by far CBS’ most popular announcer. Again…it is not close. The convnetional wisdom among college basketball fans was that the network would and should only work to increase Johnson’s presence wherever they could, especially when it comes to college basketball, and it would do anything possible to keep him. His departure has hoopheads everywhere wondering what on earth CBS could be thinking, though admittedly we haven’t heard either side of the story, and no details of the failed negotiations are mentioned in Mr. Deitsch’s article.

Nevertheless, college hoopheads are left with no Gus Johnson for March Madness. We’re certain he’ll be around, and we’re praying someone at Turner will scoop him up and find a way to get him back where he belongs by Tournament time, because March won’t be the same until he’s calling Tournament games again. If you’ll excuse us, we’re going to go transfer our old The Cure CDs to MP3 and listen to them until we’re dehydrated. Life is unfair.

 

Share this story

Texas A&M Keeping A Close Eye On Big 12

Posted by jstevrtc on August 3rd, 2010

The higher-ups in College Station, Texas keep on checkin’ that mailbox.

A few days ago, the Texas A&M student-run Battalion newspaper reported that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, the man credited with saving that conference, didn’t exactly seem fired up to discuss the $20 million the Big 12 is supposed to pay A&M annually as part of a deal that kept the conference intact, noting that Beebe would “get around to talking to A&M about this ‘hidden’ money.”

As you recall, part of the deal that held the Big 12 together a couple of months ago was that the “big three” schools — namely Texas, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma — would each receive a yearly $20 million payment as part of a new ABC/ESPN/Fox Sports television deal and from the exit costs incurred by Nebraska and Colorado when they decided to bolt for the Big Ten and Pac-10, respectively.  Those exit fees (if they actually exist) from those two schools totaled upwards of $20-40 million, and five of the remaining schools — Baylor, Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas, and Kansas State, as reported in a summary of this situation by the Houston Chronicle — agreed to forego their shares of this money and let the “big three” divide it up amongst themselves, as long as those three schools would stay in the conference and thereby keep it together.  Texas and Oklahoma said thanks-but-no-thanks to that cash.  Texas A&M accepted it.

Will Beebe and the Big 12 come through with the $20M? We're betting yes. (AP/Cody Duty)

Also according to that piece by Brent Zwerneman in the Chronicle, a Texas A&M official stated last Wednesday that A&M doesn’t really care how the conference comes up with the money — just that the Big 12 honor their end of the agreement, and that failure to do so would result in both legal action and a reopening of talks with the SEC.   Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin spoke at an A&M event in Houston on Saturday and minced no words on the issue, proclaiming, “I guarantee you we will be treated fairly.  Whatever it takes.”  Loftin’s words came two days after Mr. Beebe reaffirmed that Texas A&M would get their $20 million cut.

For several reasons, we’re pretty sure that the Big 12 will come through.  Not only would they never live down the embarrassment from reneging on the deal, but consider that the payments don’t even start until the 2012-13 academic year, giving them ample time — something they didn’t have as the conference was crumbling in June — to figure out how to divide up the cash from the TV deal and the exit fees.  And if the conference somehow doesn’t hold up their end, Texas A&M would certainly make good on that SEC threat, enticing rival Texas to do the same, and leaving Oklahoma no incentive to stay put.  The price of not coming up with the money would seem to be the very existence of the conference.

Keep in mind, though, that as of right now this whole agreement involving the $20-mil is oral.  Until one of two things shows up in College Station — the dough, or a written form of the agreement — A&M will continue to play that SEC card, and you can’t really blame them.

Share this story

Winners & Losers From Conference Realignment (so far)

Posted by rtmsf on June 18th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West conferences and an occasional contributor.

With the news on Thursday that Utah has received and accepted the invitation to become the 12th member of the Pac-10, it looks like the college sports realignment apocalypse has been averted for the summer. There may be further movement on down the line, but all signs point to a relative period of calm after weeks of frantic scrambling from all corners of the country. While it was a pale substitute for actual on-court play, we did have plenty of intrigue and suspense, action and strategy, and winners and losers. Now it’s just a matter of sorting out who was what.

The Greatest and Still Champion

Texas

A Lot to Be Happy about in Austin These Days

Texas definitely fits in the “winner” category, but I think lumping them in with these other schmucks below would be selling them short. And I’m sure they would agree. The Longhorns played this about as well as could be played, and they got everything they wanted out of it. The Big 12 keeps their television deal with ESPN (which doesn’t expire until 2016), but only has to share the proceeds among ten schools rather than twelve. The conference received a promise from Fox for a new deal when their current deal expires, with exponential increases in revenue on tap. And, on top of all that, Texas retains the right to sell local television rights and is free to explore its plans for a Longhorn television network. Bonus: in the process of trying to keep the Longhorns in the Big 12, there are reports that the neediest institutions in the bunch agreed to a plan that sent all of the money that Colorado and Nebraska owe the conference in buyout fees (reported to be somewhere between $10 and $40 million, depending on the source) to Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. So, in the span of a week, without losing any of their traditional rivals in the Big 12 South, Texas goes from generating somewhere in the $12 million range in television revenues to earning an estimated $20-25 million annually. And, that’s not even the best of it. In the process, it became painfully obvious that Texas is the big dog in the conference and the other schools (aside from Texas A&M) are in some manner, just riding coattails. Schools like Oklahoma and Texas Tech made it clear that they were just going to do whatever Texas did, while others, like Missouri, Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor, had their futures twisting in the wind, reliant on Texas to save them. If the Longhorns had gone to the Pac-16, they would have just been one of the sixteen there. By staying at home, they are clearly the kings of their conference.

The Winners

Texas A&M

The Aggies showed themselves as the one school in the conference that had plans of their own regardless of Texas. While Oklahoma and others were happy to just do whatever Texas decided, A&M talked to the SEC, and by all reports, actually had an offer to join that conference. But, in the end when they could have run off and forced Texas’ move west, the Aggies agreed to stick around and share in the league’s windfall, excellent news for an athletic department that was $16 million in debt, and even better for a school whose once proud football program has fallen on hard times in the past decade.

Big 12 Basketball

Without a doubt, the Big 12 became a better basketball conference overnight. Over the last nine years, both Colorado and Nebraska have had an average finish of around ninth in the conference. Nebraska has never won an NCAA tournament game. Colorado has only had two NCAA tournament berths in the last 40 years. So as far as the basketball side of the equation goes, this is addition by subtraction at its finest. As the conference makes the transition to an 18-game schedule in which each team will play a full home-and-home round-robin, they will no longer have to worry about games against the Buffs or Huskers dragging down their RPI. Every night in the conference will be tough sledding, but every team in the conference will also have a better chance to build their resume for postseason play.

Watch Out, Big East and ACC...

Chip Brown and Orangebloods.com

Chip Brown has been the point-man on conference realignment for about two weeks now. He broke the original story about Texas dragging five other Big 12 schools to the Pac-10, and when Texas blinked in the 11th hour, it was Brown who had that story first as well, even in the face of ESPN reporting the opposite. In the process, Brown, a former writer for the Dallas Morning News, has seen his Twitter followers increase exponentially, and the profile of Orangebloods.com, a Longhorn Rivals site of which he is part owner, has jumped from something that was only known amongst the most attentive Longhorn fans to an important resource for those of us following this story.

Utah

The Utes received just $1.2 million in television revenue from their association with the Mountain West Conference. Presently Pac-10 schools earn somewhere in the $10-$12 million neighborhood from their television contracts, and with the Pac-10 set to negotiate a new television deal which will begin the 2011-12 season, the Utah athletic department stands to make a nice chunk of change for very little trouble.  While the basketball program is going through a rough patch presently, it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see the Utes be right in the thick of things in the Pac-10 football chase immediately.

ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports

Both networks stepped in to help save the Big 12. ABC/ESPN agreed to keep their current contract with the Big 12, allowing the ten remaining members to split the revenues that had previously been divided amongst twelve. Fox Sports also agreed to large increases in their agreement with the Big 12 which expires next offseason. If Texas had bolted for the Pac-10 along with five other Big 12 members, both ESPN and Fox Sports would have had a major bidding war on its hands for the rights to the new Pac-16 conference television deal. The breakup of the Big 12 would likely have meant other moves by the Big Ten or SEC or ACC, moves that could have resulted in their contracts needing to be reworked. In the short term, both entities probably overpay for the Big 12 rights, but they saved themselves plenty of cash in the long term.

Big Ten

While it may have appeared to be the first rat on the way out before the ship went down, Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten makes a lot of sense, at least football-wise. Adding the Huskers gives the Big Ten four iconic football programs, the ability to hold a championship game and a fanbase that will eat up anything Huskers on the Big Ten Network. And, passing on Missouri is probably the right move as well. Picking up one Big 12 team brings the Big Ten to 12 schools, and allows them to take their time with any additional expansion they may be interested in, while getting the benefits of the 12th team. If the Big Ten chooses to pursue further expansion, it will be mostly focused on Big East teams, including the great white whale, Notre Dame.

The Losers

Missouri

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story