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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa State is 24-13 in Big 12 football over the last four seasons. Texas is 22-14.
Since 2010, Texas is 52-45 in the Big 12 and has been to one major bowl game. That’s fewer than Baylor, Kansas State or TCU.
Texas has almost 30 million residents. The combined population of Big 12 states Iowa, Kansas and West Virginia is about 8 million. Which is why the Longhorns have the apparent leverage to move to the all-powerful Southeastern Conference despite being woeful football underachievers over the last decade.
Wednesday’s news was a chop block to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma have reached out to the Southeastern Conference about joining it.
We don’t know with any certainty that it will happen, but it almost doesn’t matter. Texas — Oklahoma is tagging along because it would be foolish not to do so — is telling the world the Big 12 just doesn’t cut it.
There’s more cash to be made in the SEC, and being part of that league would widen the gulf between the have-it-alls and have-a-lots in college sports.
The Big 12’s current media rights expire after the 2024-25 academic year. Under the stewardship of Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the league signed a heck of a 13-year deal with Fox and ESPN in 2012. There won’t be a second “heck of a deal.”
Colorado and Nebraska left in 2011, Texas A&M and Missouri in 2012, and Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State looked at a possible leap to the Pacific-12. The Big 12 was like a beach town 24 hours before a hurricane was about to hit, with only the poorest residents staying put because they had nowhere else to go.
However, the Pac-12 thing didn’t happen, the league added TCU and West Virginia, and the 10 members went on to make a comfortable living.
But Texas wants more. Why? Because it’s Texas, and it can get it. Also, because the SEC signed a sweetheart of a 10-year television rights deal with ESPN last December.
If Iowa State or West Virginia or Kansas State could pull the same thing, they would pull it in a Manhattan minute. But they’re in Iowa, West Virginia and Kansas, not Texas.
Open and fair competition is a lovely concept, as are most fantasies. It would be swell if Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Amazon and Big Facebook had less of a stranglehold on us. Don’t stay up too late waiting for it.
College football is no different. Those who have the hammers will keep swinging them and keep taking as much money and market-share as possible.
The trend toward a compact group of mighty football schools shutting out the rest of the country has been in progress for quite some time, and certainly has included the territory-invading Big Ten. A big move in that direction would be Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 and its eight other programs to rot.
It wouldn’t matter if the Big 12 could secure a couple schools to take the places of Oklahoma and Texas, because they sure as shootin’ wouldn’t be real replacements.
There’s nothing Iowa State can do about this, other than watch from the sideline and hope this all somehow comes apart and stays apart for a while longer. Which is always a possibility when you’re discussing college athletics.
If you think Texas politicians can stop this, though, you’re indulging in one of those fantasies. They have the will and power to mangle voting rights, sure, but stopping the Longhorns from jumping leagues is out of their league.
This all stinks, but it’s like someone telling his or her disappointed spouse “You knew who I was when you married me.”
Maybe the best advice for the Cyclones is to drill the Longhorns when they play in Ames on Nov. 6. It wouldn’t change anything, but it would remind the SEC that everything’s bigger in Texas except the Longhorns’ ability to contend for conference football titles.
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