Editorial: Big 12's True Middle Class

Texas Tech head football coach Tommy Tuberville's disparaging comments this week on the Big 12 and how the conference's revenue is split, and the lack of camaraderie in the league, as well as a less than encouraging forecast for the Big 12's future has led to plenty of discussion on my radio show and on the Internet.

Since his comments on an Internet and satellite radio program, Tuberville has been reprimanded by the Big 12 Conference office. How about that? The man has yet to coach a game and has already had his hand slapped by the Big 12 office.

All Tuberville said was what many of us would love to see -- the Big 12 continue in the future and forge stronger to either be around for a long time or that when the realignment itch rolls around again that this conference would be a foundation for an expanded league rather than fodder to be torn apart and scattered to form other enlarged conferences.

The good thing is that through Tuberville's frank talk and the work of Dallas Morning News reporter Kate Hairopoulos using the Texas Open Records Act to request emails sent to Texas Tech from the Big 12 office, we have learned, for sure, some facts that will at least settle some Oklahoma State fans down.

Here is an exceprt of Hairopoulos' story:

On June 15, the day after the Big 12 officially survived, Beebe wrote Texas Tech President Guy Bailey, at Athletic Director Gerald Myers' request, and detailed an agreement by five of the remaining universities to guarantee Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma at least $20 million in revenue for 2012-13, the first year of a new media agreement, in order to retain the schools in the league.

Tech (and Oklahoma State) — which were wooed by the Pac-10 — were not included in the special status agreed to by Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Missouri and Baylor, or "The five universities," Beebe wrote, "that likely would have had to rebuild the conference."

Beebe said estimates of a new media contract meant the guarantee may not be needed. The money would come out of the revenue distributions the five schools received.

"These were difficult times with desperation being felt by many — perfect decisions and perfect consideration may not have been possible," Beebe wrote of the proposed guarantee. "But the result, in my opinion, is best for all in keeping the Big 12 as a viable conference. I know I represent the nine committed institutions in hoping that Texas Tech provides the unequivocal, unconditional commitment that the Board of Directors requested at their recent meeting."

The response of Texas Tech, and from Oklahoma State for that matter, was we support the Big 12 Conference.

Translation: This means that Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are truly the middle class of the Big 12. The five desparate schools did not offer the Cowboys and Red Raiders any of their money to stay in the league, but OSU and Tech are not involved in giving up any of their funds to fatten the bank accounts of Texas, Oklahoma, and now Texas A&M.

The Cowboys and Red Raiders are guaranteed full shares of what money is coming. That deal, by the way, was only cited for the 2012-2013 school year, the first under an new agreement.

That fact should make fans at both schools happy. You are not having to pay Texas, OU, and A&M to hang out in your neighborhood. Of course, it would be nice to collect a little extra to promise to be friends and play nice with Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State.

It's like the joke you would tell when you were a kid. You would tell the unpopular kid that lived down the street that his mom and dad were paying you to hang out with him. It doesn't sound any nicer now than it did then. I apologize to Brad for telling him that. It is really a mean deal.

Okay, now are you getting what Tuberville was saying? This league needs some deep counseling. Where is that psychiatrist that treated "Monk" for his obsessive compulsive disorder? How about the mental staff from "Shutter Island"? This league needs to learn how to value each other.

That is the role now of commissioner Dan Beebe. I could care less for all the rhetoric about how no league is truly paying all of its schools the same.

It seems that in the SEC, Big Ten, and maybe the Pac-10 that there is respect, and that a school like Florida respects and values Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. In the Big Ten, Ohio State and Penn State respect Northwestern and Indiana. I know respect is earned but every league needs all of its teams. Yes, you have to have winners and losers.

Finally, my idea to take to the table, and it might best be presented from the middle class meaning either Oklahoma State's AD Mike Holder or Texas Tech's Gerald Myers, is that the Big 12 split its television revenue and pays half of it out on an equal basis and the other half be distributed based on appearances and level of appearances.

Texas and Oklahoma have cited that process as being incentive based and that it is a motivation for schools to improve their football programs. Not true, Texas and OU have great tradition and TV drawing power. Credit them for that, but if the Horns or Sooners drop off a 4-8 record or a 5-7 record the next season they are still going to be on TV. If for no other reason people will like to watch them get beat.

We propose that the Big 12 take it one step further and make it truly incentive-based. Thus, if Texas, OU and A&M are going to be promised $20 million in conference revenue splits in 2012-2013, then after that year keep the system in place.

Three schools will be guaranteed $20 million splits and the rest will get the lower cut. The three schools getting the higher cut will be the schools that finish first through third in the Big 12 football standings -- just like NASCAR races, the Kentucky Derby, and PGA golf tournaments. The winners are rewarded. Now that is incentive based and a plan everybody can back.


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