We've been lead to believe that one of the main motivators driving the disgruntled members of the Big XII throwing themselves at Jim Delany — Missouri and Nebraska, in particular — is the damn capitalistic process in which they distribute TV revenue. If you're on TV, you get more of the loot.
The big problem with this pay your own way system is that schools aren't really in control of how often they are on TV, and even a mediocre Big Name like Oklahoma is going to get more air time than, say, a trending Baylor team.
But there are different levels of unfairness, and this seems to be pretty low-level stuff:
Here's a look at the money provided for each Big 12 team in 2007.
→1. Texas: $10.2 million
→2. Oklahoma: $9.8 million
→3. Kansas: $9.24 million
→4. Texas A&M: $9.22 million
→5. Nebraska: $9.1 million
→6. Missouri: $8.4 million
→7. Texas Tech: $8.23 million
→8. Kansas State: $8.21 million
→9. Oklahoma State: $8.1 million
→10. Colorado: $8.0 million
→11. Iowa State: $7.4 million
→12. Baylor: $7.1 million
So—and I'm guilty here of propagating this without knowing the facts—the "revenue disparity" and "uneven sharing" has probably been largely exaggerated. So yeah, Texas is pulling in more than any other school, but around $1 million more than the middle of the pack, and only $3 million more than the absolute pits of the conference, who don't really have any business in a BCS league anyway.
And besides, if the Big XII took on the mantra that we're all equals in this family—like the Big Ten does it—you know what Missouri and Nebraska would be earning from the TV deal?
|School||2007||Change if Equal|
|4. Texas A&M:||9.22||-0.63|
|7. Texas Tech:||8.23||0.35|
|8. Kansas State:||8.21||0.37|
|9. Oklahoma State:||8.1||0.48|
|11. Iowa State:||7.4||1.18|
That's right, Nebraska would actually be taking home less money if Texas would "play fair," Missouri just $180,000 more in 2007 dollars.
But there's another side to this: is it really worth it for Texas and Oklahoma to alienate the middle-folk for a measly million and a half dollars? Texas probably makes three times that in each of their home games...and the cost of those dollars is a resentful Missouri and Nebraska threatening to ruin the entire league (if if they are unfairly resentful).
But to continue this line of thinking: why does Texas care? Well, they probably don't. This whole expansion exercise has left us with one solid piece of information: the best revenue brand in college sports is not any team in it's most profitable league (the Big Ten), nor the rich kids in South Bend, it's Texas. Not only are they currently #1, but they have an entire mountain of untapped cash via a TV network that could be in many (most?) of the state's homes in 3-5 years if details are worked out. That's when things really will get unfair, to the point where it might actually have an impact on competitiveness that the current +/- $1 million probably does not.
The real reason probably has less to do with this revenue distribution structure and more to do with the fact that the grass is simply greener in the Midwest; four of the top six programs in the above-linked revenue list are Big Ten schools. The BTN was successful despite overwhelming (idiotic) predictions that the launch and deal with Comcast cannot "in any way -- represent a win for the Big 10 Network." So lols all around for the army of people that were echoing that stuff in 2008.
It's not only successful, it's the single biggest piece of the engine driving expansion, and one that could screw viable candidates that score high in every other category except "well will it increase BTN households and viewers?" (The answers for Pitt: nope and not by much).
Enemy Fist Jab: Pitt Blather