Texas Longhorn TV Network Could Lead To Another Round Of Conference Expansion


The Texas Longhorns just signed a 20 year deal worth $300 million mega-deal with ESPN to start up a 24-hour channel dedicated to Texas athletics:

Texas is guaranteed to receive approximately $10 million for the first year of the contract, which in conjunction with the renegotiated Big 12 TV contract will net the university around $30 million in TV revenue alone.

The crazy thing is that Texas was hoping to get in the neighborhood of $3 million per year, but ended up with a deal worth five times that amount.

If Texas is worth $15 million a year with their own network that will most likely show a lot of baseball, Olympic sports, women's sports and show one football and eight basketball games; then how much money could Texas demand from ESPN to allow the network to have the rights to the more lucrative games such as games against Oklahoma, Texas A&M or the upcoming series with Notre Dame. My off-the-cuff assumption is that Texas could possibly equal the deal they just signed for the rights to these marquee games if they decided to go off into the dying breed known as college football independence.

This deal could possibly provide another wave of conference expansion within the next year or two, again if Texas takes their cash and run. With this amount of money Texas does not need the Big 12 and they could even get a bigger deal through ESPN to broadcast games nationally since the unnamed Texas network most likely will not be distributed nationwide nor have the biggest profile games. Texas also made the most money of any athletic department and was well above Ohio State who was the number two school.

The Big 12 allows their schools to keep control of local television rights which is why Texas is not the only school that is looking into forming their own television network; their rival Oklahoma is seriously testing the waters:

"I wish I could tell you exactly when, but we’ve worked on it long enough and have enough of an idea of what our model will resemble that we feel confident we’ll be launching something in the not-too-distant future." - senior Associate Athletic Director Kenny Mossman

Oklahoma recently spent approximately $2.5 million on a high-def control room, cameras and upgrades which is a start to in putting the ground work in place for a possible Sooner television network. This makes sense on a lot of levels for Oklahoma to pursue this -- as it does for Texas A&M -- since the Sooners have a national name and following. The deal would not be as large but if the Sooners could bring in an extra $3 to $5 million it would be worth it. That money could be used to support academics like Texas is doing and then either stop sports from getting cut due to Title IX or actually add sports due to this extra cash.

Do not expect every team to go out and try to start up their own television deal; for one not every team has the juice that Texas or Oklahoma have (even the Sooners are below the Longhorns), plus teams from the Big 10, Pac-12 and Mountain West do not have control over their local rights which eliminate them right away. So there will be no Ohio State, Michigan, USC or Oregon channel any time soon. That leaves teams in the SEC -- I'll concede Notre Dame as an option as another team who could pursue this -- as the only real viable option to start their own network as their billion dollar deal they recently signed with ESPN allowed local rights to still belong to the school. Notre Dame is already an independent while no team is going to leave the SEC, which leaves Texas as the only real team to go tread the independent waters.

Since football drives all we will assume that the other Texas sports will find a nice landing spot. If Texas goes independent -- which they have discussed before -- then a few things could happen: The Big 12 folds with teams such as Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State heading to the Big East, then possibly Texas A&M, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State head to the SEC or the Pac-12 to form a super league, a reincarnation of the old SWC with a few Oklahoma schools, add a few teams to put the Big 12 back at 12 teams or the Mountain West could come in and grab possibly a few teams. The possibilities are endless in what could happen in the college football world.

First off, I just don't see the 16 team super-leagues coming any time soon which nixes the idea of teams going to the SEC or Pac-12. The least sloppy move would be for the Big 12 to add three more teams and I could easily see them going after BYU, Utah, TCU, Air Force, Boise State or Houston.

TCU would jump at the chance to get back in a league with the former SWC teams that left them high and dry years ago and then to not make the league to south heavy of teams Utah and BYU would also be in line. Wait... Utah would be in the Pac-12 why would they leave? Well, to be in the same league as BYU again might be a big enough incentive, plus the Big 12 gives local rights to their teams which means a Utah vs. Utah State game not picked up by whoever the television provider is could go to a local Utah channel.

That leaves an open spot in the Pac-12 who would be scrambling for a 12th team and would have to reach for schools like San Diego State or Boise State, but this looks to knock off at least one more team from the Mountain West. 

The Mountain West could be high in dry in this situation and looking for more teams if any teams get poached by a new Big 12 or possibly to the Pac-12 if Utah were to find a way to get back into a league with BYU. The Mountain West could possibly hope that the Big 12 dissolves due to the super leagues actually forming and that could leave the Mountain West adding Texas Tech and Baylor who probably would be the left behind teams once the Big 12 North heads to the Big East and then the rest of the southern Big 12 teams head to the SEC.

There are endless possibilities, but Texas has the potential to shake up the college football landscape (for real this time) and do not be surprised if they become an independent football team within a few years and then the Big 12 is no longer around.

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