Powers: Conference realignment talks threaten Big 12

Curtis Powers

Panic button, anyone? It seems the Big 12 is about blow up any day now. Well, that is if the rumors and speculation are true.

Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. It doesn’t matter much anyway if you’re at Iowa State, because if that’s the case, you’re not in control of your fate.

President Geoffroy and Jamie Pollard admitted as much in their letter they sent out to Cyclone alumni, fans and friends of the university Friday.

“We also recognize that the long-term viability of the Big 12 Conference is not in our control, it is in the hands of just a few of our fellow member institutions.”

That means you, Texas and Nebraska. If Colorado or even Missouri leave, they can be replaced; though an absence of Mizzou would hurt negotiations over a new TV contract next year without the St. Louis market and the Kansas City market, to some extent.

However, if the Big 12 lost Nebraska as well, things might be different. It might provide incentive to the southern teams to leave to the Pac-10, or elsewhere, if the opportunity arose.

Still, it really comes down to Texas — doesn’t it always in the Big 12? They are king. After all, they are being courted by three different conferences: Big 10, Pac-10 and the Big 12.

They also pulled in a little more than $138 million in revenue this past year, according to the Department of Education.

That’s almost $20 million more than the next school — Ohio State at almost $120 million — and almost twice as much as the next two schools in the Big 12 combined — Oklahoma at $81 million and Nebraska at almost $75 million.

Furthermore, they are near some major TV markets — Dallas-Fort Worth is No. 5, Houston is No. 10, San Antonio is No. 37 and Austin is No. 49, according to Station Index.

And the cherry on top is that they, like Iowa State, are an Association of American Universities member. That means they are a leading research institution, and being a member is a pretty big deal.

That’s where the rub in this whole deal is too. Universities and colleges are supposed to be primarily concerned about teaching and research, not sports and huge amounts of money.

The whole concept of the “student-athlete” in some sports in Division I, namely football and men’s basketball, is practically absurd as it is.

If Texas did decide to join the Pac-10, you might as well throw it out the window.

Case in point: the amount of traveling involved. In the Big 12, the farthest Texas ever had to travel in conference was to Iowa State. If you walked it, it would be 945 miles.

In the Pac-10, there is only one school located closer than Iowa State: Arizona State at 884 miles. In fact, there are four schools that clock in at around 2,000 miles — the Oregon and Washington schools.

Plus, all the Pac-10 schools are two time zones behind Texas right now — Arizona changes time zones depending on the time of year.

That is definitely not good for one’s internal clock and doing well in one’s classes.

If they joined the Big 10, travel would only be slightly better, as well as changing time zones, zero or one.

So it seems to me that it wouldn’t be worth it for Texas to bolt. Yes, they could make more money, but at what cost?

Is it worth it to stretch your student-athletes like that? Is it worth it to set the example for your university’s students to think the world only revolves around money, to hell with everything else?

Besides, the Longhorns are already the richest in athletic department revenues in the nation. Do they really need more money?

So I hope they decide to stay. The same goes for Nebraska, Mizzou and Colorado. I will understand if they leave; I just hope they don’t.

It is definitely in Iowa State’s best interest that the Big 12 stays intact. I think it is also probably in the best interest of the student-athletes.