If you’ve been paying attention to the Big XII this week, you’ll see that they are still struggling with what to do about the Longhorn Network, a possible conference network and expansion. So far, things don’t look very good. The conference is treading water, but it has yet to lock down long term stability. For better or worse the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and even the ACC have secured long term futures for themselves, one way or another. The Big XII hasn’t.
Most of the solutions being floated won’t work. Other conferences found stability in expansion to lucrative markets with high profile schools. That option won’t work for the Big XII because there are no schools that fit that need. Other conferences have raked in revenue with the creation of their own TV networks. That won’t work for the Big XII either. As of the LHN isn’t a big enough problem by itself (and it is) the economics of conference networks are changing. Cord cutting and declining cable subscriptions are making that path less certain.
All is not lost though. For one, there is no immediate threat to the conference. They should be fine for a few years, but if they want to provide long term prosperity for their members, they will have to do something different. The old playbook a won’t work. Bill Connelly has an idea that would be fantastic to watch: a super conference with promotion and relegation.
Under his plan, the conference would add every team that has been suggested for expansion to get the conference to 24 teams. They’d then divide between two divisions and have the better teams move up and the worse ones move down. This would be fantastic to watch. Essentially every year in every sport you would have the strongest 12 teams from a pool of 24. That would be a very strong conference. They could arguably be the strongest in any given sport in any given year.
It’s a fascinating idea, but it’s probably not one that will gain much traction. If the Big XII doesn’t adopt it, they should look for something like it: a different path to give themselves a competitive advantage. With that advantage they could secure their long term prosperity.