Lynn... sorry for the late reply; I didnt expect you to write back. This turned out a lot longer than I intended but it is important to put it in context or it just becomes just headliner info.
As small as it is, BYU's grip on the state of Utah is probably more than aggies ratings in Texas. But on top of that, they carry a national and world wide TV channels, tv cable channels, radio, and internet streaming presence to 6 million mormons. Aggies can not touch that and it's not even close. They have a presence but A&M does NOT have a stranglehold on Houston or DFW for sports and never will. Those are professional sports cities and no college team does well in professional sports cities. By saying that A&M brings the Houston and Dallas markets are you saying that they get bigger ratings in Houston than Texas, or UoH, or possibly LSU? I seriously doubt that. TAMU is building up a large alumni centric fan base but University of Houston is right behind them (about 40,000 undergrads) and likely will overtake A&M when tier 1 monies from legislature start flowing that direction. And... both schools are still far behind Texas in alumni production. It's likely that if A&M's ratings go up, it will be because of who they will be playing rather than who they are. Even worse, if the Aggies continue to lose to LSU or Arkie, they will lose whatever support they have in east Texas, including Houston. .
Not only do the aggies not deliver Houston or Dallas on their own, they have a hard time selling out their own stadium a lot of the time (82,000 capacity). Last year, A&M had its best year in a while with 9 wins and still barely covered expenses. In a losing year (2010), Texas was still #5 in average attendance (over 101,000 per game which is above capacity). In merchandise sales, UT was again #1 for the sixth year in a row after a piss-poor year. In a good year, Aggie was still behind Missu, Arkie, and way behind LSU in merchandise sales. LSU and maybe Arkie in places have as good or better presence in east Texas than A&M does. If A&M doesnt do real well real early in the SEC, all this could actually work against them with, esp with recruiting.
BYU is ahead of all Big 12 members in stadium attendance except UT, Okie, and aTm and tied with Missu...and that isnt even BYU's appeal, but rather its huge national/international mormon fan base. Outside of their alumni, A&M doesnt have a large fan base. Matter of fact, they make fun of what they call T-Shirt fans, which is the bulk of the market. They have a large alumni association in the 100s of thousands (probably in the 300k range even though they claim 500k), however, that would only be a niche market from a large media standpoint.
I mention Pitt and Louisville only if it gets Notre Dame. Like Texas A&M, they dont carry enough to come by themselves. The Big 12 would take a school like Pitt if it means getting ND – that's an easy call, IMO.
I have been writing on blogs for years that Notre Dame will not go to the Big 10 if expectations are what they are right now. Just to list a few issues:
-- Association of American Universities (AAU) membership is a huge issue with the Big10 and Notre Dame is not an AAU member. The Big 10 puts a high priority on AAU status since their biggest money maker is the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) and the CIC distributes research funds to research universities. Notre Dame is not a research university; they have great undergrad programs but very weak graduate, doctorate and research programs. Sports money is big in the Big10 but it pales in comparison to what the academic research side brings in, which was over $6 billion dollars to the Big 10 conference in federal research funds last year. [This is not an issue with the Big12; only a few teams are AAU members] [on a side note: this is nauseating from a tax payer point of view. This is where a lot of he nonsensical research comes from]
– AAU vs religious principles? The last so called "religious" university to receive AAU membership was Vanderbilt in about 1950-ish (if I remember correctly). And that was after a long separation and court fight to leave the Southern Methodist convention. ND simply will not receive AAU status as long as they hold fast to religious principles. [This is not an issue with the Big12]
-- Conference vs religious indoctrination? Shared research, professorships and graduate programs are huge sources of pride for the Big10. The uber-politically correct Big10 academia will not tolerate Notre Dame to continue with priest professorships, teaching of "pro-life," principle position on creationism, and faith as intellectual virtues worthy of maintaining. [Again, no issue with the Big12 conference]
-- CIC inducements? not much, if any. Notre Dame is not much of a research institution, therefore, they would not receive very much, if any, research distribution, therefore, it's a non-issue and no leverage for Big10 [No issue for the Big12 conference]
-- Separate TV and school network? This is a mission for ND as much as it is for money and sports; similar to BYU and BYUtv. ND is not going to give up its desire for its own network and the Big10 isnt going to let them have their own if they want to join the conference. [No issue with the Big12 that cant be worked out; matter of fact, the conference might be encouraged school networks the near future]
-- Big 10 limited scheduling. Big10 is going to a 9 game schedule with the divisional conference setup and conference championship game now. This will severely limit ND's ability to schedule all the normal big ten teams that they traditionally fill out their schedule with. ND has stated that if they join a conference, they would like to keep the conference game requirement to around 7 games. that way they could continue to schedule most of their national rivalries such as USC. [No issue with the Big12 that cant be worked out, esp if the conference goes to 12 teams again]
As far as the Longhorn Network is concerned, it is simply feigned indignation by schools so they can do what they wanted to do all along. Nebraska and Colorado both left before the LHN was presented and rights sold to ESPN. It's easy for NU and CU fans to now say in retrospect that it was because of the LHN, when in in fact, it's easy to prove otherwise. All three of these malcontent schools have wanted to go to different conferences for a long time and just needed a reason and Texas with its LHN was a convenient boogy-man (over-controlling UT, or commish Beebe, or Big12 unfairness, or LHN, etc all made good boogymen) to play the victim and justify to their fan base that it's worth cutting 100 year old rivalries to get what they wanted anyway.
Lynn, who were the Big12 conference powers in 1995 when the conference started in 1996?
Nebraska was coming off multiple national championships. Colorado was still fresh off their 1991 national championship and would remain a national power well into the late '90s. They won their last conference championship in 2001(?) in an upset win over Texas and Chris Simms. A&M was in their best run in school history with Slocum after the program was built by a cheating Jackie Sherrills. With good guy, RC Slocum, the aggies remained a national power and won their last conference championship in 1998.
Guess what? You didnt hear a peep out any of those three schools while they were on top and controlled the conference – did you? These schools were happy in the '90s when they set up the rules in a way to give them the lion's share of the profits. The rules were set up in 1995 so as to benefit the teams that did the best. If you got on TV the most and brought that money back to the conference, then you rightfully deserved a stipend as a reward for bringing that money back to the conference. However, there was a changing of the guard around 1998-99. TAMU, NU and CU are still so last century. LOL If it werent for Texas they would probably blame it on Y2K.
I will try and keep this short but a quickie on each of the three:
Nebraska has ALWAYS wanted to be in the Big10. I think their first Big10 rejection was in 1914 – WAY before the Big8 and Big6. They were stuck in the Big8/6 for decades but could tolerate it due to their success and national exposure. In 1993, they wanted to go to the Big10 but didnt get an invite so they were stuck again in 1995. In the development of the Big12 (1995), Osborne lost just about every conference vote 1-11 except those votes that benefited winners. Every school voted against his questionably ethical rackets that he wanted to continue from the Big8. This upset Osborne to no end and he knew that he wouldnt be able to build the teams that he had to in order to be nationally competitive since the state of Nebraska didnt have a lot of local talent to draw upon. But even his in-state schemes were effectively shut down by the conference. The 1997 Cornhusker national championship team was was stacked with pre-Big12 talent. What does a coach do when he knows he cant do what he has done before due to current circumstances? He quits... and that is exactly what Osborne did. The odds were not in his favor any more so he quit. He has resented the Big12 ever since and, I'm convinced, that he vowed to change it. I truly believe when he became NU athletic director a few years ago, he vindictively set a goal to move the Cornhuskers to the Big10 (where the school power brokes wanted to be all along). The UT hate came along when a spiteful Osborne hired a petulant Pelini a few years ago. Over the years, a lot of Nebraska coaches and admin have come from the Big10 footprint including Pelini and a good portion of his staff. This is where they feel comfortable. The UT hate was simply a means to an end.
Similarly, Colorado has ALWAYS wanted to be in the PAC10. Their culture and alumni were mostly west coast centric and they had very little in common with the Big12 footprint. Even when they were in the Big8, they were the odd-ball school and never really fit in. In 1995, they felt they had an opportunity to go to he PAC10 but didnt have an invite and, since they were in charge of the commission to set up the Big12, they felt that they would be able to weld more influence than they ultimately received. Ironically, however, CU didnt leave for the PAC10 out of hate for the Big12 or UT but to take advantage of circumstances that gave them what they really wanted to begin with, which was to have west coast ties to go with their associations. The original rumor was that three Texas schools (UT, TTU, & BU) would go to the PAC10 with 0U. The opportunity presented itself and there was no way CU was going to let Baylor or Tech get their place at the PAC10 table – no way – so they jumped the gun, however, they really would have loved to do it with UT to keep the Texas recruiting and money ties but that didnt happen.
TAMU has ALWAYS thought of themselves as a southern school and culturally more in line with the SEC. A&M was too small before to break away from UT for most of its history but in 1993, they were a big, successful football university. They desperately wanted to go to the SEC after Arkie left the SWC. It is said that Broyles told the SEC that he could convince UT to come with them to the SEC. However, UT president at the time Rober Berdahl really liked rubbing shoulders with the PAC10 schools (he left UT in 1997 to become chancellor of CAL-Berkley. UT's current pres, Powers, is a CAL-Berkley alumnus) and it is said that he had an academic disdain for the SEC system. Since UT started talking to the PAC10, A&M then made overtures to the SEC and was accepted. This is when Bob Bullock, Charles Hance, and Ann Richards intervened to keep BU and TTU attached to UT and A&M sacrificing UH, Rice, TCU, and SMU. With UT's and A&M's hopes dashed by political pressure, all four Texas teams worked out a deal with the Big8 to create the Big12. The Baylor & TTU intervention was what gave the Battle on the Brazos and the aggie-red raider games the emotional charge it didnt have before. Aggie still wanted to be in the SEC but they were ok with it as long as they were getting the lion's share of the Big12 benefits in the '90s. Just like Nebraska, once they dropped to second class status in the conference, they only needed an excuse to still up the fan-base pot to create leverage in order to leave the conference and more than 100 year old rivalries. This would have not worked without fan support.
The Longhorn Network is only a convenient ruse to feign indignation so these teams can get what they want. In 2006, the Big12 conference voted against creating a common conference television network. The vote was 11 against and 1 for the network. Guess who the ONE who wanted to create a CONFERENCE network? Yep... it was Delo$$ and Texas who wanted the common conference network. The idea and the guy behind the scenes was Kevin Weiberg. Once the conference voted down the network, Weiberg took his ideas to the Big10 and was instrumental in helping them get the Big Ten Network off the ground (BTN). Weiberg in now working with the PAC12 helping them create a better model than the BTN for their PAC12 conference network.
In 2007, Texas told the rest of the conference at a the summer conference meeting that since they didnt want a conference network, UT would set about to create their own network. They added that it would take millions of dollars per year and at least three years to develop. Every year this came up and every year UT said it was still working towards its own network. there were a lot of naysayers about the concept (the usual suspects that couldnt envision a conference network) but UT was about ready to pitch the network proof of concept for sale. Deloss met with Byrne (aggie AD) to see if they wanted to go in with the network as partners. Apparently, Deloss wanted to call it the LoneStar Network if it included Texas schools starting with A&M. It's also reported that they both talked network content and, of course, that included high school sports but it was immaterial to Byrne since he didnt think it would work anyway. It's said that Byrne told Deloss that A&M wasnt interested because he didnt think it would work and A&M's athletic department was broke and couldnt afford to sink money into a bad investment at the time.
Soon after Deloss' overture to Byrnes, the conference started falling apart starting with Mizzu announcing their desire to join the Big10 in the fall of 2009. Within weeks, Nebraska started hatching a plan to get the Big10 invite. There was no way they were going to let Mizzu obtain what they, as a school, have wanted for almost a 100 years; simply wasnt going to happen. by the spring (2010), they had to create a boogy-man to convince the husker masses that it as essential that they sever 100 year old ties in order to escape the evil university of Texas tyranny... and it worked. With the break away of CU and NU, A&M wanted to again go to the SEC and Texas wanted to go to the PAC10 again. What brought everyone back to the table was that Beebe was able to show everyone that the Big12 could make good money if the current media contracts remained but with two fewer teams. One of Texas's stipulations for coming back to the Big12 table was that it could continue with its school network project unabated. So again, everyone was reminded about the UT TV network. This was no secret to anyone who was paying attention.
Six months later, Deloss sold the UT tv concept to ESPN for $300 million. At that point, aggie realized what it missed out on and was pissed off. they were going to use it as a tool to get out from underneath UT's shadow once and for all.
The point being: Nothing of material value was done in secret; Texas took the lead and tried to get a conference network in 1996; Texas has been working on their own network since 2007 and everyone knew about it; and Texas even tried to share its concept with other Texas schools starting with A&M.
At some point, you just have to say, screw y'all... we're going to do this and y'all can bite my butt.
Wow.. again wrote way too much again
Killeen/ Ft Hood