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Texas Following Notre Dame Template?

2011 September 23
by Brian Goff

The seismic effects of the conference realignments on the NCAA landscapes presents so almost unlimited angles to cover.   Whether by design or stubbornness, the UT Longhorn’s dream of their Longhorn Network has left them following a path strangely similar to Notre Dame’s 20 years ago.  The NBC contract showered great revenues on the Fighting Irish, and, seemingly, tilted the competitive field in their direction  — how could anyone recruit against them and their regular TV exposure.   A funny thing happened on the way to the bank … the SEC, Big Ten, ACC,and Big East expanded.  The Big 8 and SWC consolidated.  These new alignments created TV-friendly weekly matchups, AL-FL, Penn St.-Michigan, Texas-Nebraksa that dwarfed the weekly ND game.  Air Force-Notre Dame or Pitt-Notre Dame now looked like some cable access telecast.  The revenue continued but the recruits did not.

I’ll skip all of the details regarding the Longhorn Network to Big 12 members or other conferences.  In the end, it looks like Texas will stay in a new Big 12 (Big 9 plus maybe BYU and one or two others).  Texas will have its network, albeit with likely some revenue sharing as Oklahoma now has some leverage.   While not totally independent as is Notre Dame, there are similarities.  Texas will reside in a conference with no equals or near equals in terms of fan base.  Competitively, the conference will have only one marquee game per year — Texas-Oklahoma.   It’s a recipe for diminished interest by recruits with other marquee TV games galore.   As ND learned, all the storied history and school pride in the world doesn’t mean much to 17 year-olds, who see where the real attention is flowing.  The one advantage that Texas may hold over ND is a “natural”, geographic recruiting base.

Texas’ seeming lack of interest in the SEC is puzzling.  Maybe the Longhorn Network killed interest on both sides.  Beyond athletics, the associations with Stanford, Cal, and UCLA held some allure for UT.  However, Vandy and Florida have strong academics, Georgia is coming on and many of the other schools are solid and likely to continue improving over the next several decades.  King of the Southern Plains seems to be the UT objective.  We’ll see if that works out better than ND’s kingship.

A side point on realignment.  As I wondered before, is 16 teams too many?  Does the size essentially create two conferences with a single name, at least in football, where contests between any two inter-divisional teams will be fairly infrequent.

 

 

 

 

6 Responses
  1. September 23, 2011

    Florida is considered a good academic school? They ranked lower than USC and Washington (in addition to the other PAC-12 schools you noted).

  2. Skip Sauer permalink*
    September 23, 2011

    What’s wrong with being ranked below Washington? Go Huskies!

  3. licinius permalink
    September 23, 2011

    I’m neutral about Notre Dame, but you need to do a better job of background research. Recruiting has not been the problem at Notre Dame. All you need to do is look at any of the recruting websites and see how they have ranked Notre Dame’s recruiting classes over the past 20 years. They’ve have done very well and been pretty consistent. I guess that blows your argument about the relationship between recruting and television. Notre Dame’s problem has clearly been coaching.

  4. Jimmy permalink
    September 26, 2011

    Texas has never really had any interest in the SEC because Texas ultimately wants to challenge for the national championship every year. A brutal SEC schedule would ruin more potential national championship seasons that it would foster. Meanwhile, A&M doesn’t have such lofty expectations of their football team so playing a tough schedule every week and making more money doing it is fine for them. Most importantly, they get away from big brother UT that irritates the hell out of them by largely ignoring them.

  5. September 26, 2011

    Nothing is wrong with the Huskies…just pointed out that Florida wouldn’t rank above a lot of the PAC-12 schools (not just the three that he listed).

  6. Tom permalink
    September 28, 2011

    Texas A&M is culturally more southern, it traditionally gets students from Texas’ small towns. UT is more the school of Dallas and Houston, big oil and all that, and less southern. I really think this is a factor.

    Before the Pac12 chose not to expand again, they said that if they did go to 16 teams they would do one division scheduled in 4 “pods”. Each season a team would play 2 of the 4 teams in the other pods and all 3 of the other teams in it’s own pod for a 9 game schedule- the tops teams regardless of pods would play in the Championship game. I like that set-up, and the fact that best two teams would play in the final game regardless of pod (or division).

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