June 14, 2010

Much Ado About Not Much - Conference Moves

The musical chairs of conference re-alignment has ended - for now?. From what I read on-line today, this is my current information and my opinions:

  • Colorado leaves for the Pac 10 - This is probably a good move for CU in all sports. I would think that being the western most member of the Big 12 and not considered a mid-west program/university was not the best fit athletics. From an academic point of view, my impression of Colorado is that it is more aligned with the institutions of the Pac 10. As for volleyball, it will be a tough transition. I know that Colorado is in a rebuild situation, but I can't think of a tougher conference to try and rebuild in than the Pac 10. Recruiting will be helped, as many west coast VolleyPSA's consider the Boulder area/Rocky Mountains as an attractive destination and I think the local Colorado area kids would be excited to play in some of the west coast cities of the Pac 10.
  • Nebraska to join the Big 10. This one is still a bit of a surprise - I wonder if NU might have jumped the gun a bit and bolted so as not to be the last one to bail on a perceived sinking ship. Can't say that I blame them with the money that the Big 10 offers its institutions and each school receives an equal share (unlike the Big 12 conference - see more below). I don't think is it much of a stretch for Nebraska to switch to the Big 10 from a geographic or institutional perspective - I tend to think of NU as more of a northern entity and more aligned with an Iowa or Minnesota, than Baylor or Texas. I had read some hints that Nebraska has not been too happy with the power of the Big 12 residing in southern members of the conference - the illustration of this was the continued site of the Big 12 football championship game being in Texas. As for Volleyball, NU is very good and will be very good in the Big 10; the Big 10 is stronger as a Volleyball conference and I don't think the Huskers will have as many 'easy' matches as they do in the Big 12. One thing is for sure, the Big 10 and the Pac 10 should now be considered (without a doubt) the two elite Volleyball conferences in the country.
  • Boise State to the Mountain West. All of these conference moves have been as a result of football trying to gain a larger payout. The Mountain West does rank out higher than the WAC in football and enjoys a higher revenue stream, since TCU/Utah/BYU each bring a lot of coins to the football MWC piggy bank. It is not like BSU is joining the Pac 10, but the Mountain West does provide a better opportunity than the WAC. From a Volleyball standpoint, the MWC is much stronger than the WAC. Take Hawaii out of the conference, and the WAC does not bring a lot to the national rankings, yet the Mountain West enjoys NCAA caliber programs in BYU, Utah, TCU, Colorado State, etc. Boise State will join a much tougher conference and I hope their program will receive increased support to compete.
  • The remaining members of the Big 12 decide to stay together. When Nebraska jumped to the Big 10, I thought the Big 12 was toast, burnt toast! The rumors were nuts with a few schools going to the Pac 10 and maybe a school or two jumping to the SEC. Also, the panic of those not in the mix for an invite was tangible, as they not only saw current big money payouts stopping, but having to try and reform into something else. In reading a story on the ESPN site, I think I may have gleaned why Texas, Texas AM and Oklahoma (the traditional football powers left in the Big 12) decided not to accept an invitation to another conference. The Big 12 (now the old Big 12) agreed that the Big 3 will receive 20 to 25 million per year in the future television agreement and the Small 7 will received 13 to 17 million. In addition, Texas has received permission to have its own sports network and keep all that revenue. I guess it was a necessary cost to the Small 7 to keep the old Big 12 a viable collegiate entity, but it leaves a bad taste in my mouth that the Big 3 took millions away from conference members as payment to stay in the league - It is not like Texas, Texas AM or Oklahoma is poor or has a small alumni base. Volleyball has taken a hit with the loss of Nebraska and lost a very low ranked RPI team in Colorado, but in the end, the Big 12 (by the way, what will this new conference be called?) will be weaker as a Volleyball conference. Texas now stands clear as the superior team in the conference and everyone else will be catching up....By the upcoming revenue sharing agreement, the better teams in Big 12-2 (my new name?) Volleyball (excepting Texas AM) will not have their department funded as well by the conference as Texas will have.
In the end, it was Much Ado About Not Much.

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