I've been thinking all day about realignment and the Pac-12's options for getting to sixteen. And the more I think, the more I don't like Texas as part of the deal. I know the money at stake: A Pac-16 would offer ten of the top twenty-five markets in the country (Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, San Diego, Denver, Sacramento, and Portland), and well as some smaller, but very non-trivial markets (San Antonio, Austin, Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City) that together add up to a whole lot of cash. But we have to think about more than just short term dollars in this decision. And when I look at the history of Texas athletics, and the ruins of two destroyed conferences left in its wake, I have to wonder if its all worth it. After all, when the Big 8 was voting to bring in four schools from Texas, I'm sure the extra money sounded good to the likes of Iowa State and the Kansas schools. Now look what they are on the verge of.
If we look at the destruction of the Big XII, it starts and ends with Texas' demands. They are why alienated former powers in Nebraska and Colorado left the conference. Their brazen deal with the Longhorn Network is what caused Texas A&M to bolt to the SEC. They ran roughshod over the business affairs with until any school that actually had options just couldn't take it anymore. Now, they want to waltz into our conference with all the toys that destroyed their last conference intact.
This is even more unacceptable when you look at what various teams had to give up in order to get to the status quo in the Pac-12. Equal revenue sharing was important to this conference, because they knew that to maximize value, everybody had to have equality of oppotunity and have competitve games to show. USC and UCLA gave up what had been revenue advantages. Northern California had to give up being in the same division with their Southern California brethren. The Northwest gave up annual access to LA--something that the Arizona and Mountain schools will also give up should the Pac-16 come to fruition.
Finally, I'm already looking ahead to the next contraction. And, should Texas leave a trail of destruction over a third conference, who has the most to lose. And that is unequivocally the Northwest. Simply put, should the Pac-16 fail, the Northwest schools are at a major disadvantage geographically: they have nowhere else to go. Washington carries Seattle and will always have a place. Oregon's recent status as a national player and the ability to carry Portland probably leave us with a place in any system as well--though that's not something I'm willing to bet the farm on. Oregon State and Washington State? Completely expendable, and lucky they're in a conference who is doing the raiding instead of being raided, lest they be in Iowa State's position. And while some may wonder why I look out for the little brothers of the Northwest, playing those schools and having them in our conference is a big part of our history, and not something I ever want to risk losing. Like a real life little brother, you never want to lose to them, but you stand up for them when squabbles go outside the family.
I'm not against a Pac-16. I'm not even against Texas being a part of it. Given the markets involved, it could be a major boon financially for all parties. But recognize the risk involved when you make a deal with the devil. We can get along fine without Texas. If we invite them to come along, they have to be on the same terms as everyone else. If we give them even a little bit, they will try to take everything. Their history tells us that much. The California schools would manage just fine in such a scenario. The question is, will we?