Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ugly Uniform of the Day

UUOTD is back!

I saw this during this week's College World Series. Or, the Men's College World Series, as the NCAA now refers to it. UC-Irvine made their first appearance in the CWS, ending in a loss to defending champion Oregon State. Their nickname is the Anteaters.

These uniforms aren't that bad, in and of themselves.

But, putting the short form of the name, "Eaters", on the jersey allows for all kinds of connotations. If one didn't know they were the Anteaters, the person would ask all kinds of questions. What do they eat? Are they overeaters? Are they proud to eat?

UC-Irvine could solve this issue by putting Anteaters on the jersey, instead of "Eaters".

At least they're not the Boogereaters.

Big XII Rumblings, Part 2

As I wrote earlier, the Big 12 finds itself in a bit of conflict over revenue sharing. The high-revenue schools, such as Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas A&M see no problem with the status quo, where half of football and non-conference basketball television money are distributed to the schools based on appearances. Up until now, it’s been an issue, but not a deal-breaker. A school such as Texas is bringing in about $1.5 million more per year under this setup, than they would if all revenues were shared equally. With the advent of the new, more lucrative, TV contract, this becomes more of an issue with the Kansas States of the world.

As I mentioned earlier, the new commissioner will have to broker a deal that will please everyone. In a perfect world, Texas, OU, and Nebraska shouldn’t have to give up revenue they have earned from having high-profile football programs. At the same time, it would cost one of these schools more money to switch conferences than they would give up through equal revenue sharing. Equal revenue sharing helps build the conference by treating all members equally, instead of as Texas, Oklahoma and Friends. It hasn’t hurt Ohio State and Michigan to help Northwestern. Ohio State now has an athletic budget of over $100,000,000. I have read that Northwestern is getting more from the new Big Ten TV deal than Notre Dame will from their exclusive deal with NBC. I don't know if that's true, but it’s pretty incredible for that to even be a possibility. By and large, the schools and alumni/population bases of the Big 12 are smaller than those of the Big Ten, therefore not commanding the same amount of money. Nonetheless, the schools of the Big 12 can work together toward solutions that benefit everyone.

There needs to be a major BCS conference in the middle of the country. Texas and OU need conference mates and true partners, not merely patsies to fill schedules in multiple sports. I'm not saying that the other ten schools are patsies in every sport. However, there is a big difference in revenue generated and spent. All-around athletic success tends to correlate with money for facilities, coaches, travel, etc. Here are some figures for athletic expenditures for 2006, from

Texas: $83,600,248
Oklahoma: $64,322,580
Nebraska: $63,695,480
Texas A&M: $61,419,536
Texas Tech: $53,337,768
Kansas: $47,554,572
Colorado: $45,731,544
Missouri: $45,184,836
Oklahoma State: $44,061,812
Baylor: $36,228,960
Kansas State: $34,834,468
Iowa State: $32,541,236

I am as big of a free-market capitalist as there is out there. I hate socialism. But, when it comes to sports leagues, the NFL has proven that revenue sharing benefits everyone. In the NFL, what helps Green Bay eventually helps New York. New York doesn’t benefit from a weak franchise in Green Bay.

A league is no stronger than its weakest link.

To come: Options for conference members, in case of a breakup.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Big XII Rumblings, Part I

Last week, as I was on blogging sabbatical, the Big XII was rocked (well, that’s a strong word) by the resignation of commissioner Kevin Weiberg. Weiberg is leaving the Big 12 after 8 ½ years for a newly created position with the Big Ten Network.

As a fan of the University of Oklahoma, I am glad to see this happen. OU was ill-served by the conference office on three occasions in the last two years: the football officiating debacle at Texas Tech in 2005, the highway robbery in football at Oregon last season, and the elbowing incident involving Longar Longar in a basketball game at Texas Tech. In each case, the interests of OU were not defended, forcing the OU administration to defend itself. Furthermore, the commissioner allowed Tech coach Bob Knight to bully him into suspending Longar for two games as a result of an unintentional elbow, ignoring the pleas of the OU administration.

The conference, however, faces bigger problems. There is unrest in the league regarding revenue sharing. Currently, the league splits all non-television revenue equally. Conference members also split half of all television revenue equally. The other half of television revenue is placed in an “appearance pool”. This money is distributed based on football TV appearances and non-conference national TV appearances in basketball. This benefits schools like Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska (football), as well as Kansas (basketball). The more powerful programs earn up to $1-1/2 million more per year than the less-exposed schools under this plan.

Lesser-exposed members would like to see the Big XII follow the lead of the Big Ten and ACC, and share all revenue equally. This idea goes over like a lead balloon at places such as the University of Nebraska, who is considering the option of leaving the conference if they lose money in any revenue-restructuring deal. Currently, the conference requires 9 of the 12 schools to vote in favor of rewriting the conference constitution. As it stands now, 8 of the schools would be in favor of revenue sharing. Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas A&M are in favor of the status quo. Rumor is that A&M may be on the fence, and could change their position.

The Big XII is in an unenviable position. There are really only three programs that can draw a national audience, or large numbers of casual fans, for a television appearance against any random opponent. This explains why OU will play North Texas on national cable television in September, and why Texas can play Louisiana-Lafayette on national cable television. Therefore, Texas, OU, and Nebraska can bring in more money for TV appearances.

The lesser-exposed members argue that revenue sharing would make for a greater spirit of cooperation in the conference, resulting in more exposure and money for everyone involved. They point to the Big Ten and their new television deal as an example. The early NFL would be another example, as franchises such as New York and Cleveland gave up lucrative local TV deals in the 60’s so the league could share revenues from their national TV deal with CBS. The NFL mushroomed into the most valuable television property in the U.S.

OU, Texas, and Nebraska can also make the argument that they should get to keep the money they have earned, by having high-powered football programs that fans will watch on TV.

The next commissioner will have to broker a solution to this dilemma. The conference cannot afford to disintegrate. If the conference were to break up, the lesser-exposed schools would suffer the most.

At this point, I think rumors of a Big 12 breakup are premature and preposterous. But, anything can happen. In a future post, I will post possible scenarios for conference members.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rivals Yahoo!

I wrote earlier of the imminent merger between Fox corporate siblings and Today brings news of the purchase of by Yahoo!.

I'm not the biggest fan of Rivals. I don't subscribe to their recruiting service, and I find most of their message boards hard to navigate. For their sake, hopefully Yahoo will improve the service.

In the details of the article is the following tidbit:

News Corp., a media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch, reportedly has even offered to swap _ the most trafficked social networking site _ in exchange for a 25 percent stake in Yahoo. If it were consummated, the transaction would be valued at more than $10 billion, based on Yahoo's current market value.

So, if Fox owns MySpace and Scout, merge them together, then sell MySpace to Yahoo, it would combine both Scout and Rivals with MySpace. That can't be good for the sports fan.

I think I'll go check my MySpace page.

Silver Boot, Part 2

It should be an interesting series this weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The mediocre Houston Astros visit the Temple for a three-game series with the sorry Texas Rangers.

My Rangers have the worst record in the American League. Until recently, they had the worst record in baseball, before the Cincinnati Reds assumed rock bottom.

But, throw the records out, because the Silver Boot is on the line. The Rangers won last month's series in Houston, 2 games to 1, and have an 11-run lead on the Astros, thanks to a 14-1 win in the teams' last meeting. The Astros need a sweep in Arlington, or at least two wins including a one-sided thrashing, to put a trophy on owner Drayton McLane's shelf.

Tom Hicks may stink as an owner, but he has a good chance for one trophy this year. How bad would it be for the Astros, if they lost this trophy to a team on track to lose 100 games?

At least Sammy Sosa has 600 career home runs. Even if he was on the juice, he probably would have still hit 500 without performance-enhancing supplements. Good for Sammy.