Last we heard, two days ago, there was “still no tangible momentum for Big 12 expansion at the moment,” at least according to Dennis Dodd’s sources. And I’m inclined to believe Dodd, who has been covering this story for years.
But then along comes someone named Tim Montemayor, who has done sports-talk radio in places such as Salt Lake City, Sacramento and San Francisco but now — according to his Linkedin page — lists his main occupation as “real estate agent & investor” in the Phoenix area. He also hosts a sports-talk podcast called “The Monty Show.” On Thursday, Montemayor got a few people all worked up with a series of tweets that suggest not just another crazy turn for Big 12 expansion but the craziest turn, one that would put the conference — or at least a portion of it — in a direct collision course with the Big Ten.
There are a few thing$ working again$t thi$ theory. Gue$$ what they mostly all center on.
1. The Big Ten just signed the most lucrative television deal in college sports history.
Starting in the 2017-18 academic year, Fox and ESPN will pay the Big Ten a reported $440 million per year over six years to televise the conference’s football and basketball games. Throw in CBS’s continued agreement to televise Big Ten men’s basketball, and the total amount of money involved in the conference’s television rights will be somewhere around $2.65 billion. That comes out to $31.7 million per school annually, and that number doesn’t even count money from the Big Ten Network, the College Football Playoff or bowl games. So think somewhere around $40 million per school, per year.
2. Nebraska hasn’t even started getting its full Big Ten payday yet.
Nebraska joined the Big Ten in 2011 but has yet to receive its full share of the conference’s revenue, which was part of the agreement when it joined. But starting next year it will be fully vested in the conference, meaning it will get the same amount of money as everyone else. But sure, it’ll spend a few years not earning its full payout but then bail right when it does. That seems logical.
3. The Big Ten only is going to get richer.
Provided the market for televised live sports doesn’t completely collapse, the Big Ten is in line for mammoth future payments. The key is that its newly negotiated deal runs for only six years through 2023. That will give the conference a head start on all the other conferences — including, notably, the Big 12 — whose current deals end after that. It will get to set the market, again, in 2023 while the others will be stuck with their own deals.
4. Nebraska is, in the end, a pretty good fit in the Big Ten.
There are certainly a good number of Cornhuskers fans who long for the days of the option offense and yearly games against Oklahoma, but in the end Nebraska is just fine in the Big Ten academically, geographically and philosophically.
5. There’s little chance the other Big 12 members want to move forward without Oklahoma.
The Sooners are one of the two marketable names in the Big 12 along with Texas. And while some of the conference’s presidents are probably sick and tired of Oklahoma President David Boren’s hemming-and-hawing about expansion, in the end the likes of Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech probably realize that they’re all tethered at the hip to the two titans at the top. Without them, the Big 12 might as well be the AAC.
Strange things have happened in conference expansion, sure. I’m not sure anyone thought we’d be seeing Maryland-Iowa games pop up on the schedule every couple of years, or that Syracuse-Pitt would one day be a crucial ACC basketball matchup. But the thought of Nebraska jettisoning the Big Ten and everything it offers is just absurd.