With the recent and massive turnover in college football realignment, teams in the Big XII Conference have been forced to try to find new conferences to join. A&M is, pending a lawsuit, headed to the SEC, Nebraska and Colorado have already left, and the two Oklahoma schools seem to be flirting with the Pac-12.
While many have assumed that Texas will simply follow the Sooners’ lead and join the Pac-12, there is one problem: the Pac-12 already has a strong media network, and Texas’ new Longhorn Network doesn’t seem to fit into the conference’s media scheme.
The Longhorn Network, a channel sponsored by ESPN that will pay out nearly $250 million to the university over the next 20 years, has caused much controversy since its inception, and is partly to blame in the Big XII’s collapse.
The Pac-12 Conference’s media scheme goes like this: there are six networks, one for both Oregon schools (Oregon and Oregon State), one for both Washington schools (Washington and Washington State), one for both Arizona schools (Arizona and Arizona State), one for southern California (USC and UCLA), one for northern California (Cal-Berkley and Stanford) and one for the mountain schools (Utah and Colorado). If Oklahoma and Oklahoma State join the conference, then they will create a network for the state of Oklahoma.
In order to join the conference, Texas will likely have to share their illustrious network with a nearby team (likely with Texas Tech), creating a regional channel that covers both schools’ athletics.
There is another scenario, however.
Rumors have been floating around about the possibility of the Longhorns joining the Big 10 along with long-time independent Notre Dame. Not only would this be a better fit as a conference for Texas as far as athletics and academics go, but the Big 10, while they do have their own media package, will likely be less strict in governing Texas’ multi-million dollar television channel.
As the Big XII will inevitably collapse, it is best for the University of Texas to, if they must, cut their losses with the Network in order to move out west with Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State or move up North with Notre Dame. And, if the ‘Horns are in fact required to dissolve their Network, they had better do so – unless they want to become the newest member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.