Saturday, August 04, 2007

Are You Ready For Some Football??

Sunday night, the NFL season officially begins. The Hall of Fame Game, in Canton, Ohio, features the New Orleans Saints and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The starters for both teams will probably play only one series, and no more than a quarter in this game. The majority of the game will consist of rookies and free agents trying to win spots on the team. As Greg Williams of The Ticket in Dallas would say, a lot of these guys will be working at Home Depot next week. Still, it's nice to see America's Game back in action.

I would normally be excited about this game, as it is the first real game of the season. However, it is being televised on the NFL Network, and thus is not on my cable. So, most of the country will not have access to the game. I'll wait until Thursday for my football fix, when the Colts visit Irving to play the Cowboys on Fox.

Welcome back, NFL.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Eleven Plus One=Ten, Continued

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany backtracked this week on expansion discussion. It seems that he opened up an entire can of worms when he mentioned it last week.

I think just the opposite is happening. I believe the Big Ten, behind closed doors, is actively searching for a 12th member, preferably in an adjacent state. Now that the Big Ten Network is a factor, the conference needs to expand their footprint. I have seen goofy speculation mentioning schools such as Texas, Tennessee, and Kentucky. I don't look for the Big Ten/Eleven to think that far out of the box.

I do look for the Big Ten to rock the Big 12's world, by peeling off the University of Missouri. This makes sense for several reasons. 1) Missouri is an adjacent state, with two large TV markets in St. Louis and Kansas City. The Big Ten would solidify their place in the St. Louis market with this move. 2) Mizzou has a competitive, but not great athletic program. They provide the ability to generate revenue without providing a huge threat to schools such as Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. 3) The Big Ten can offer more money, especially with the advent of the Big Ten Network. Unlike the Big 12, the Big Ten shares all television revenue equally among all schools. This would be attractive to Mizzou, especially compared to the Texas-dominated Big 12. 4) The Big Ten is an academic conference, in addition to an athletic conference. The opportunity to participate in prestigious academic research projects with fellow conference members would be too much to pass up.

Missouri would leave more than a century of history behind, as a charter member of the Big 6/7/8 and Big 12. However, this is the 21st century, and money talks.

What would happen to the Big 12? First, this would solidify the Big Ten Network, providing a blueprint for the SEC to start their own network. With this in mind, the SEC would be wise to look toward Texas to add more television sets. This can be done by adding Texas and Texas A&M. A&M would go in a heartbeat. Texas would go where they can generate the most revenue. If this scenario happens, all bets are off. It would not be farfetched for the SEC to expand to 14 or even 16 schools, if there is enough money to justify the move.

The next commissioner of the Big 12 faces the responsibility of keeping the league together. That will be easier said than done.