June 29, 2010
Whatever you have to say about new Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, you have to give him this: The man is not shy. Accordingly, Tubs' turn on Rivals radio this morning was interesting listening all the way around – SEC fans will want to hear Tubs' account of his fateful decision to turn Auburn into more of a passing team after the 2007 regular season – but never moreso than during his straightforward takedown of the lifespan of the reduced Big 12, and of embattled commissioner Dan Beebe, in particular:
I just don't think this conference will last long because there's just too much disparity between all the teams here. I've just noticed that – in the SEC, for instance, Vanderbilt makes as much money in the TV contract as Florida. Everyone is good with it, everybody's on the same page, gets the same amount of votes.
That doesn't happen in the Big 12. You've got some teams that get a little bit more money, have a little more stroke than other teams. And when that happens, you're going to have teams looking for better avenues to leave and reasons to leave. And so we have a 10-team league now, but I just don't know how long that's going to last, to be honest with you.
Being here for six months, I've just kind of noticed there's just not a lot of camaraderie in this league like you have in the SEC. ... It starts with the commissioner. And I think (SEC commissioner) Mike Slive has done a good job. (Former SEC commissioner) Roy Kramer did a good job of building a base where everybody was on the same page. And that just has not happened here in the Big 12. It's just a matter of time, to be honest with you, unless they get everybody on the same page.
Anyone who paid any attention at all to the conference's near-death experience over the last month can recite the lingering cancers Tuberville invokes off the top of their head: a) The Big 12 still distributes revenue unequally, with millions more directed to the the more "valuable" schools, and b) Texas calls the shots (Tuberville is more specific on this point later in the interview: "Whatever Texas says is what we're gonna do.") These are essentially the same complaints that helped push Nebraska into the Big Ten, and Missouri ready to jump ship at the first available opportunity. The only teams that never wavered from their commitment to the Big 12 throughout the turmoil were Kansas State and Iowa State, and that's only because nobody was asking them.
Tuberville is only being frank about what seems obvious to everyone: The Big 12 only survived thanks to a promise of more money from its next TV contract, not out of any sense of obligation to the conference or fellow members. If Beebe can't deliver that money, or someone comes along in a few years with a solid promise of more, even people within the conference don't think the uneasy union will hold.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.