Declarative statement: Texas needs to be in a new, or different, athletic conference.
What would be ideal? What’s the goal? Who from the current Big 122 needs to stay . . . could stay . . . might have to stay to keep the league roster at a decent size . . . who needs to go? What schools would be the best targets for a larger, or a retooled, Big 12?
This is written from a SOLELY Texas perspective. The future for Baylor or Iowa State is a topic for somebody in Waco or Ames.
I would hope our athletic director and our administration have been working on this issue for several years. If not, they’re probably not going to position us any better than we currently are. Which is, I suppose, OK when/if/BIG IF we get the football program somewhere close to what it was the first decade of this century.
Second declarative statement: I don’t think where we are is acceptable.
Simply put: We need a conference with a larger footprint. I’ll describe footprint as a geographic reach or spread that takes in as many Tier 1 and Tier 2 schools as possible (read on); a conference that covers as many states/regions as possible. For excellence at this model, look at the revamped B1G and SEC, though the former has some flaws along with many excellent aspects. I’ll do a conference breakdown in a separate story in a day or two.
I approach this "Texas’ place in the near the future" with the belief that we can do better. That we have the clout, we have money, we have (hopefully) the leadership and foresight to make it happen.
We pretty much had what you’d want for the 15-year period ending in 2010. I believe the Big XII, or a new conference we help start, NEEDS Texas.
Yes, we need conference brethren. But they need us (and Oklahoma) more than we need them. A package deal of Texas and Oklahoma, just the two, would make every conference in the country snap to attention and light up the phone lines. We are the IT factor. As Reggie Jackson famously said, "We are the straw that stirs the drink." We should not accept, or support, conference members, or prospective members, that have a smaller reach, fewer resources, than we do – simply because it makes sense on the map.
We can do this because we can deliver significant as in massive dollars and lots of TV viewers and plenty of fans who will travel anywhere, given program success and the right conference membership. Much more on this in my overview of the Big 12.
There will be several parts to this prospectus. I’ll offer opinions, which I back up (maybe not very well). There will be potential solutions, several, which will come at the end.
Declarative statement No. 3: The current conference does not serve our needs.
Neither did the Southwest Conference . . . not as the college game became more national, and more and bigger markets and fan followings and potential television viewers became critically important.
The original Big 12 served us well. It fit what I’ll call the "right template" as to quality and makeup of member institutions. It was geographically coherent. The breakup of the original Big 12 has left us competing (not well, much of the time; that’s a coaching issue) with a shallow, hollow league with too few heavy hitters to attract the kind of TV package – and thus, the recruiting clout and multiple major bowl chances each year – that the University of Texas can, and should, demand.
TOMORROW: Who’s in which Tier?