Rumors, rumors, rumors. Always take em with a grain of salt. This entire story is based upon rumors so keep that in mind. Piecing together rumors and comments of what people say usually leads to a false conclusion, but it's fun to do. With that in mind, let's have a little fun with the Notre Dame and Texas to the Big Ten rumors.
Also, I don't really like the idea of the Big Ten expanding again. People say that the Big Ten will have to keep up with everyone else if other conferences go to 14 or 16. Why? Why do they have to expand just because everyone else is doing it? It took 20 years to go from 11 schools to 12. I trust the Big Ten leaders on expansion for the right reasons.
Earlier this evening, Notre Dame and Texas jointly presented the Big Ten Conference with their proposed terms of entry into the conference. These terms resulted from lengthy discussions among both schools and the Big Ten over the past several months.
The major items include:
1. The preservation of an eight game (plus championship) conference football schedule. Both ND and Texas wish to preserve rivalries with non-Big Ten universities on a regular basis. This would require the Big Ten to abandon its current plans of a 9 game conference schedule.
2. The staggering of the schedule to allow for mid-season scheduling with non-conference football opponents.
3. The preservation of the status quo conference makeup until approximately 2014, unless the Big XII fails to retain key (NOT including A&M) conference members. This will provide the member schools, acting in unison, with the greatest leverage negotiating ongoing television contracts, particularly with ESPN.
4. Should Texas depart the conference for the Big Ten before ND due to the further disintegration of the Big XII, ND will remain independent until approximately 2014
5. The Longhorn Network would remain independent until approximately 2014, at which point the network would become a part of an expanded Big Ten Network (specifically referred to as "BTN2"), likely either in partnership with Fox, NBC, or less likely ABC
The Big Ten just wrapped up a meeting to initially consider all of the terms presented by the schools, including the aforementioned.
Notably, there is a general discontent with the reporting of the situation by ESPN with specific regard to Texas. ESPN has, for self-serving purposes, drastically exaggerated the lean of Texas to the Pac12 conference in nearly all commentary. ESPN has essentially waged a propaganda campaign to drive support among the Texas stakeholders to the Pac12 conference. ESPN has gone so far as to attempt to accelerate the disintegration of the Big XII to pressure Texas into making an immediate conference change decision. Texas has steadfastly resisted change, and will do so until the appropriate time occurs for Texas to stand in a strong position to renegotiate television contracts, including with ESPN.
In reality, the preference expressed by Texas' relevant leadership is to depart the Big XII for the Big Ten at the time that gives Texas the greatest leverage in negotiating a new television rights deal. The Big Ten and Texas agreed that Texas should do what is best for Texas, which they also both agree is a move by Texas to join the Big Ten Conference. Delaney's top priority has been to create an environment for Texas and Notre Dame to join the conference on mutually benefical terms.
Notre Dame has an interest in preserving its traditional rivalries, three of which occur already in the Big Ten, and creating a new national rivalry with a traditional powerhouse. The Big Ten believes that ND prefers independence, but realizes that it will soon have no choice but to join a conference. The Big Ten also believes that ND is trying to position itself so that if it must join a conference, it does so on the most favorable terms possible. Hence the return to the 8 game schedule and a protected game with national power Texas. The Big Ten will attempt to create a mutually beneficial environment for ND that allows it to preserve a great deal of independence to retain all its traditional rivalries within the conference context.
The initial mood at the Big Ten to the terms provided by the two schools is "receptive."
What does this mean? It could be just some smart guy putting the pieces together of if Notre Dame and Texas wanted to join the Big Ten what would those schools like to see in order for this to get done. It doesn't necessairly mean that they want to join. This "meeting" could also be completely bogus. Just this morning an interview was published with Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez and he stated that the Big Ten had a moratorium on expansion. In other words, it was on hold. Jim Delaney has also come out within the past week and has said that the Big Ten is content with 12 schools.
Of course the SEC also said "No" to A&M, but that was just a legal hurdle they had to cross so that they didn't appear to be poaching a school from the Big XII. Things can change, but it's hard not to believe Jim Delaney when he made those statements a week ago. The Big Ten may expand, but they do their due diligence first.
Could it be true? Sure. There was talk a few weeks ago about Texas wanting to replace A&M with Notre Dame on Thanksgiving. Was DeLoss/Chip Brown letting the cat out of the bag early? They may have done it last summer too. In May, 2010, the reports starting coming out of the Pac-10 and Big XII entering into a TV deal for football.
It appears the Big 12 and Pac-10 are inching closer to a football scheduling alliance for television similar to the basketball Hardwood Series the two leagues currently have.
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott told Orangebloods.com on Monday that he and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe have had discussions about creating a football television package of non-conference games between the two leagues that could create "the kind of scale, national exposure and financial growth both conferences are looking for in our next round of TV deals."
This was the pre-cursor to the idea for moving half the Big XII to the Pac-10. As soon as this new rumor came out, the Big XII-Pac 10 TV deal was never mentioned again. It kind of looks like that the six-team move was the idea all along. So with the current talk about Notre Dame to the Big XII and UT-ND on Thanksgiving, could this just be the cat being let out of the bag again? Why would Orangebloods report that "Texas and Notre Dame could just start their own conference?
Less than a month ago, Dodds told a gathering of the Young Men's Business League of Austin that Texas wants the Big 12 to stay together if A&M moves on to the SEC. But Dodds said if there is not sentiment for the nine remaining schools to keep the Big 12 alive, Dodds said Texas might want to partner with a school like Notre Dame and start their own conference.
Are Notre Dame and Texas up to more than we know? Of course Notre Dame continues to say that it wants to prioritize their independence.
"Our priority — and our clear priority — is maintaining our football independence and continuing to build our relationship with the Big East with our other sports," Swarbrick told the Austin American-Statesman.
It's also worth mentioning that there appears to be a good relationship with Jack Swarbrick and DeLoss Dodds. From January:
Swarbrick talked about his relationship with Texas and their AD DeLoss Dodd and that Notre Dame has a close connection with Texas. According to Swarbrick, the Texas Longhorn Network makes all the sense in the world for them.
As far as what Notre Dame will do in the future, he said that it is important for the Irish to expand their media presence. However, he said that Texas has geography going in their favor and Notre Dame does not.
Things can change quickly, though. Why hasn't Notre Dame moved it's hockey team? Penn State is starting a hockey team and because of it, the Big Ten is forming it's own hockey conference. This caused Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan to abandon their old hockey conferences. Because of this, the WCHA invited the remnants of the CCHA into their conference with the exception of one school. That school is Notre Dame. Why wouldn't the Irish join up? Are they going independant in hockey too? There aren't a lot of alternatives in hockey for conferences. But...if they were joining the Big Ten in a few years, then they would just end up playing hockey in the Big Ten conference.
On the plus side, things could work out for every BCS school with this setup. A&M and West Virginia or Missouri makes the SEC 14 strong. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make the Pac-12 14. TCU, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Texas Tech merge with the Big East. They also take Missouri if West Virginia leaves and you have a 14 team conference there that divides perfectly for geography. The ACC stays at 12 and the Big Ten moves to 14. No one is left out and everyone (except the ACC) increases the value of their conference. More $$$ for all, so everyone will be happy. Right? Well, more money, but more mouths to feed. That's up to the conference commissioners to make it worth-while for all the schools.
There are issues here that don't make sense. Why would the Big Ten just allow Texas and Notre Dame to hold onto some of their television rights.
In reality, the preference expressed by Texas' relevant leadership is to depart the Big XII for the Big Ten at the time that gives Texas the greatest leverage in negotiating a new television rights deal.
"Wait, what?" Why does Texas need leverage for a television rights deal. Doesn't the Big Ten want to have leverage for their TV rights deal in 2015? If Notre Dame and Texas approached the Big Ten then I could see how the conference could be "receptive." Obviously there would have to be a lot of work done and differences of opinions resolved in order to integrate the two schools into the Big Ten to go along with the same principles that the rest of the schools live by. If both sides are serious, this won't happen over night, nor does it need to. Notre Dame is already an independent and Texas can survive a few years in whatever is left of the Big XII, if necessary. But the last time we heard the phrase "the Big Ten would be receptive" was when the Big Ten was ready to accept Nebraska. It doesn't sound like the Big Ten is at that point yet with Notre Dame and UT.
Around 5 p.m. that evening, Delany called Perlman.
“The presidents,'' he said, “would be receptive to an application from Nebraska.''
It was intentionally cryptic, the way such conference courtships work, but there was powerful meaning in the words: Nebraska was in.
This latest rumor may be fabricated, but it would be silly to think that DeLoss Dodds hasn't picked up the phone and spoken with at least someone in the Big Ten lately. There are too many press releases over the past month to make one realize that something is up with Notre Dame and Texas. The Longhorns have been too quite lately while everyone else in the Big XII has been screaming at each other. If Tech and Baylor can end up in the Big East, then there is no more "Tech" problem and I think the lure of the Big Ten's academic side stays in the back of everyone's mind in the Austin area.
Of course this may all be moot if BYU accepts an invite to the Big XII.
Take this story for what it' is: One guy with no connections to any inside sources who likes to speculate.