When the Big 12 reaffirmed its “commitment to 10 members” yesterday during spring meetings, it (rightfully so) drew the scoffs of many. Now in our third straight offseason of realignment talk, no one’s sure who to believe anymore.
But as skeptical as many are about the Big 12’s expansion brake-tapping, there could be a rather important detail that actually supports yesterday’s announcement.
The Big 12’s new TV deal is expected to be finalized within the week — it was the “No. 1 priority” of spring meetings, according to the Dallas Morning News — and the payout to each school on a per-year basis could play an important role in expansion talk. Via Dennis Dodd of CBSSports, there’s a clause within the new deal “that will give any new expansion candidates the same money as the current members (estimated to be at least $20 million per year).”
Dodd continues that “one industry source said that number applies whether the Big 12 invites, ‘Appalachian State or Florida State.'”
Where you could see a concession on expansion from UT is if the Big 12 added two (or four) teams that provided such tremendous value to the league’s new TV deal that the annual payout from first and second-tier rights increased significantly.
Take the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, for example. The Sports Business Journal reported last week that CBS, the SEC’s first-tier rights holder, “wants to pay a prorated increase to its original contract 15-year deal with the SEC (signed in 2008) – and has balked at paying a significant increase because of the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M.” The value of A&M and Mizzou is in the new SEC Network, the soon-to-be third-tier rights partner, because their additions equal more inventory.
The Big 12 doesn’t have a conference network for third-tier broadcasts, and because of Texas’ Longhorn Network, it won’t. So, if more additions don’t equate to more significant payout per school, where’s the need to expand?
That is all assuming, of course, that Dodd is correct and there is no increase in payout for any additions to the Big 12. Clearly, that goes against realignment intuition, and we’ll find out the actual details sooner than later. How the Big 12 responds, combined with Notre Dame’s place in a four-team playoff, will ultimately have the greatest effect on whether or not the Big 12 stays at 10 members.