Archive for October, 2010

Well, maybe the University of Texas won’t be taking over the world after all.  The Sports Business Journal is reporting that ESPN and Fox are essentially in a dead heat in winning the right to partner with Texas on a new Longhorn television network.  Some interesting details gleaned from the article:

  • It doesn’t appear that Texas is attempting to take back more TV rights to football and basketball games from the national Big 12 contracts, which means they are essentially building this network based upon the rights that they have now: typically one football game per season and a handful of non-conference men’s basketball games.  As a result, the network will have a heavy reliance on non-revenue sports, pre/postgame programming and coaches’ shows.
  • Texas actually won’t have any equity stake in the network.  Whoever is the winning bidder will own 100% of the network and then pay a rights fee to Texas that the school expects to be approximately $3 million per year.  This is similar to the deal that the Mountain West has with Comcast for the mtn.  The Big Ten, in contrast, has 51% ownership of the Big Ten Network and pays out twice as much as the Texas estimate to every single one of its schools (approximately $6 million per year per school).

Honestly, it’s a bit underwhelming and definitely not going to have the impact that a lot of people predicted.   If Texas doesn’t try to take more football and men’s basketball games in-house, then the network will really have no impact on the Big 12’s national TV contract position (beyond the impending losses of Nebraska, Colorado and a title game).  The Longhorn network is really just Texas attempting to monetize the TV rights that it already owns as opposed to taking any additional inventory away from the other Big 12 schools.

The fact that Texas won’t have any equity stake in its network is also fairly surprising.  Granted, this virtually eliminates any downside risk for the school, but it also caps the upside where it won’t benefit from rising subscriber fees and advertising revenue in the same manner as the Big Ten Network.  A number of Texas alums have told me that the school had started spending on TV network infrastructure, so I’m puzzled by how there’s no equity involved.

Finally, the revenue figures are not real game changers at all, as it’s nowhere near what the Big Ten Network provides all of its schools in an equal revenue sharing system.  Considering that Fox Sports Net recently agreed to pay the Texas Rangers around $80 million per year (effectively a massive Godfather offer in order to prevent the MLB franchise from starting its own competing network and note that this was signed before the Rangers’ World Series run), I would’ve thought that a Longhorn network would make quite a bit more than $3 million per year, especially when it seemed to be such a point of public consternation for other Big 12 schools.

In fact, if the value of the Longhorn network is really going to be only $3 million per year, then it’s obvious to me that this network had absolutely nothing to do with (1) the near-collapse of the Big 12, (2) the ultimate rejection by Texas of the Pac-16 proposal or (3) Texas refusing to consider to join the equal revenue sharing leagues of the Big Ten and SEC, both of which would’ve paid a heck of a lot more with a lot less heartburn.  As dysfunctional as the Big 12 was and still is, an entire league was not going to break up over a $3 million TV package.  I highly doubt that either Texas or the Pac-10 killed the Pac-16 deal over this amount of money, either.  As I’ve also said many times before, if Texas really wanted to maximize its TV revenues, then it would’ve just joined either the Big Ten or SEC, and the relative low amount of revenue coming from the Longhorn network proves this point.

At the end of the day, the ownership structure of this network and financial figures point to the powers-that-be at Texas simply wanting the Big 12 to live.  Maybe it was fear of the wrath of Texas-state politicians.  Maybe it was the real threat of Texas A&M heading off to the SEC.  (Look at this comment from last December from knowledgeable UT alum reader Longhorn Lawyer and the last 3 paragraphs outlining the school’s position about A&M going to the SEC – it’s fairly instructive, especially considering it was made loooong before the Pac-16 proposal was even dreamed up.)  Maybe the Texas dream really has been being able to control something to the effect of an SWC plus Oklahoma league.  Whatever it is, the relatively low revenue stream for the Longhorn network means that the Texas decision for staying in the Big 12 goes beyond financial issues and that the school’s end goal is definitely not independence.

FRANK THE TANK’S FOOTBALL PARLAY

Work obligations prevented me from getting my BlogPoll ballot in on time this week, so we just have some quick picks today (home teams in CAPS and odds from Bodog via Yahoo!)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

  • Purdue (+17) over ILLINOIS
  • NOTRE DAME (-8.5) over Tulsa
  • Michigan State (+6.5) over IOWA 

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Illini Games for the Season: 4-2
Overall Season: 9-14-1

NFL FOOTBALL

  • Jaguars (+6) over COWBOYS
  • RAMS (-3) over Panthers
  • Steelers (+1) over SAINTS

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-4
Overall Season: 11-10

Have a great Halloween weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

(Image from TexasSports.com)

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NOTE: The first part of this post contains spoilers for the Mad Men Season 4 finale, so if you still need to watch it or, alternatively, don’t care about the show, please skip down to the bottom of the post with this week’s picks.

Before we get to this week’s picks, I had to throw down some Mad Men thoughts since my head is still spinning after that season finale.  Putting aside the fact that Joan didn’t go through with the abortion of her baby with Roger and Betty’s Christine O’Donnell-esque firing of Carla, the stunner was obviously Don sudden marriage proposal to Megan after basically only spending a couple of days together and dumping Faye in the process.  I initially had a visceral negative reaction to that development, not because it has anything to do with Don’s actual choice (which I’ll go into great detail in a moment), but it just didn’t seem to flow in a series that’s been built upon long character arcs before having dramatic payoffs.  (See the interaction between Peggy and Joan after Don announces his engagement as the ultimate example of a scene that was years in the making.)

After thinking about it for awhile, though, the episode has grown on me and, ultimately, the sudden engagement really does fit into Don Draper’s (or Dick Whitman’s) character.  There was a scene earlier this season where Don described his process to creating great ad campaigns – he bangs his head against the wall again and again until something suddenly clicks.  His entire life has been based on decisions where he acts upon the proverbial light bulb going off in his head, whether it’s generating a slogan, buying the New York Times ad in last week’s episode or choosing to marry someone that seems to be perfect on the surface.  In that sense, spending a few nights with his Maria Von Trapp clone secretary and then proposing is right in line with Don’s normal thought process.

One school of thought on Don’s choice of Megan over Faye that seems to be popular with Mad Men fans is that Don is both running from his past (yet again) and he can’t handle someone that’s his equal.  The argument there is that Faye wasn’t going to let Don get away from confronting his Dick Whitman life head-on and her professional stature, if not intimidating, certainly would mean that she wouldn’t be a Stepford wife in the suburbs.

I actually have a very different view on this – it felt to me like Don is actually at peace with his Don/Dick identity issues for the first time (which in part made Faye’s role as quasi-therapist not as relevant anymore).  Don hasn’t told Megan about his Dick Whitman past like he did with Faye, but at least in how everything was presented, I don’t think that (a) Don will necessarily hide that information from Megan and (b) Megan would care about it if/when she finds that out.  Frankly, Don has spent this entire season confronting his past – what he needed to do was to move on. 

Anna posthumously giving Don her engagement ring was effectively blessing him to move forward.  Of course, I didn’t think he’d use that ring that quickly.  Faye’s prediction from the second episode of the season that Don would be married within a year ended up being extremely dead-on, only the problem for her is that she won’t be the recipient.  Now, it appears that the majority of Mad Men fans believed that Faye was the “right” woman for Don as a highly educated and professional woman that could dig deep into his tricked-out psyche.  However, Faye was looking to tackle and fix Don’s Dick Whitman issues (with her comment at the beginning of the episode that he needed to get his head out of the sand with the past), where what Don was looking for was a way to move on as described above.

This gets us to Megan.  Maybe it’s because I’ve turned into a sappy bowl of Jell-O after my first year of fatherhood, but I knew that Megan would end up with Don the moment that she picked up Sally off the office floor several episodes ago.  It turned out that Faye was absolutely having an “audition” when she spent time with Sally and proved to be not only merely uncomfortable around kids, but so painfully and comically awful with them that she openly admitted it to him.  Let’s face it – when your ex-wife is a prime candidate to go after your family with a Sharon Stone ice pick and your 10-year old daughter is seeing a childhood shrink largely because of it, not being good with kids is ultimately going to be a relationship deal-breaker no matter how much outsiders might think you need to be with a strongly independent and challenging partner.  To me, that was a pretty simple choice and very understandable for Don – as a father of 15-month old twins, I honestly wouldn’t be able to go on with a Faye-type if I were in his shoes.

Faye’s shortcomings in that area were exacerbated by Megan’s easy-going French-speaking natural manner with children.  The milkshake spilling scene was an instantly iconic moment of the series, where Don and the kids were shell shocked that Megan didn’t have a Betty-type explosion and calmly wiped everything up.  It was as if though the Draper family was so conditioned to instant shrieking in response to any small mistake or indiscretion that they didn’t realize that you could actually approach a problem in a civilized manner.  Don isn’t ever going to be a Father of the Year, but he ultimately cares about his kids greatly (and said so at several points this season, including to Faye in the workplace kitchen scene in the second episode), and I think the milkshake spilling moment was what sealed the deal with him and Megan.

Let’s also not forget that Don himself has never had a mother figure and his relationship with his father was short, abusive and tragic, so he has his own parental needs.  Faye was fantastic at assessing Don’s issues – pegging his need to get married from the get-go and telling him that he “only likes the beginnings of things” in their break-up phone call – but there wasn’t ever any empathy from her, which is what he has never received in his entire his life (as shown in his broken childhood and marriage with Betty) with the exception of Anna.

Ken mentioned in this episode that he keeps his personal life separate from his professional life, alluding to what we call a “balanced” lifestyle today.  Well, Megan is the personification of “balance” to Don – spectacular with children (unlike Betty), young and beautiful but with a self-recognized physical flaw with her teeth that humanizes her (also unlike Betty, whose standard, as noted at the end of this episode, will always be “perfection”), and educated enough to understand Don’s work even better than some of his peers (as only she and Peggy understood the New York Times ad was about “I dumped her/she didn’t dump me”) yet being deferential in a way that she wouldn’t upstage Don (unlike Faye).  In Don’s mind, Megan = Anna + romance.  At least that’s how Megan has been portrayed up to this point, which is part of the mystery.  Based on what we know, Megan was the right choice for Don compared to Faye, but the catch is that there’s probably a whole lot we don’t know about Megan.  As Roger hilariously asked after Don’s announcement, “Who the hell is that?!”  The audience is asking the same thing and I’m sure that’s a topic that’s going to be explored deeply next season.

There were three positive signs about Don that left me feeling hopeful that this would all work out (even though happiness is a feeling that doesn’t last very long on this show).  First, he answered Sally’s question about who was Dick in California about as honestly he could to two young kids on vacation to Disneyland.  There are other times and places where Don could fully explain his Dick Whitman background without having his kids emotionally crushed every time that they saw Mickey Mouse for the rest of their lives.  Second, Don immediately recanted his story to Megan that Anna’s ring was a family heirloom and explained that it was from a person very close to him.  Third, it was very clear that Don was upfront with Megan about his relationship with Faye, as Megan was the one that prodded him to tell Faye about the engagement news and that it wouldn’t get any easier by waiting.  Those were three instances where Don would’ve flat-out lied not too long ago, so this indicated that he has indeed grown as an adult over this past season.  Can he keep it up or is he going to end up reverting back to the serial philanderer next year?

My gut feeling is that the show is probably going to move away from Don’s personal issues next season and focus much more on the women: Megan’s background and flaws (if there are any), Joan dealing with motherhood (with or without her doltish husband that’s in Vietnam), Peggy continuing to deal with a world that still rewards women getting the MRS degree more than concrete professional accomplishments, Sally adjusting to a new home and stepmother, and, probably most importantly, Betty confronting the prospect of another marriage going down in shambles and witnessing her kids grow way more attached to Megan than her.

Mad Men has such compelling character development that I could write a whole lot more words on just the Don/Megan/Faye dynamic (much less the others on the show), but let’s move onto this week’s picks before this turns into a 10,000 word book (with home teams in CAPS and odds from Bodog via Yahoo!):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

  • UCLA Bruins (+26) over OREGON – Oregon has to slow down, right?  This could set up as a dangerous “look-ahead” game, as well, with the Ducks playing USC next week.
  • ILLINOIS (-13.5) over Indiana – I’ll be taking the twins to their first football game on Homecoming Weekend in Champaign.  The Illini really aren’t half bad.  I can’t say the same about the Hoosiers.
  • LOUISVILLE (-1) over Connecticut – Louisville should’ve covered last week at home against a better Cincinnati team.  I think they’re winning outright on Saturday. 

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 3-2
Overall Season: 7-13-1

NFL FOOTBALL

  • BEARS (-2.5) over Redskins - Ugh.  This is going to be a fugly game.  I do think the Bears are going to be able to move the ball against this Washington defense, so they should benefit from that in combination with the home field.
  • FALCONS (-3) over Bengals – If I were assigning confidence points to these picks, this is the one I feel most strongly about.  So, expect the Bengals to run away with a 30-point upset win.
  • Giants (+3.5) over COWBOYS – I haven’t been very consistently right on many things this season, but one thing that I do feel comfortable about is always taking the points against Dallas.  That team is truly terrible.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 3-3
Overall Season: 9-9

Once again, feel free to use this post as an open thread for the weekend’s games and non-expansion college sports news.  If you want to talk about conference realignment in general, please continue the discussion on the Through the Wire post.  Have a great weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

OK, Husker fans.  I’m a believer now, or more to the point, I’m a believer in Taylor Martinez.  Also, I’ve buckled on the Boise State/TCU debate – Boise State may very well be #1 in the BCs rankings released on Sunday night, but the TCU defense is just stifling in a manner in a way that I don’t think Boise State can match.  Out of the non-AQ schools, I think that TCU is the best.

Here are this week’s parlay picks (with home teams in CAPS and odds from Bodog via Yahoo!):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

  • MICHIGAN STATE (-7) over Illinois – Incredible beatdown by Illinois over Penn State last that I didn’t see coming at all.  I just wish this week’s game was being played in Champaign.  With Michigan State’s defense holding Denard Robinson in check last week and Illinois effectively having a poor man’s version of Michigan’s offense, I don’t think the Illini are coming out of East Lansing with a win.  Fortunately, Illinois is going to have a very favorable schedule for the rest of the season and it would be a legitimate disappointment if we don’t make it to a bowl this season (which I wouldn’t have said a month ago, when I didn’t think we’d even have a chance at bowling).
  • LOUISVILLE (+3) over Cincinnati – Taking the points with the home team.  Nothing more and nothing less.
  • Arkansas (+3.5) over AUBURN – I think that LSU is the real deal out of the SEC, but I still have a lot of reservations about Auburn.  Arkansas has also been underestimated by Vegas for much of the season. 

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 2-2
Overall Season: 6-11-1

NFL FOOTBALL

  • Seahawks (+6.5) over BEARS - The Bears shouldn’t be getting anything close to a touchdown spread based on what we’ve seen so far.  This will be a win for the Bears since Seattle is hellabad on the road, but the score will also be close enough that Lovie Smith will continue to be the coaching chopping block in the minds of Chicago sports talk radio callers.
  • VIKINGS (-1.5) over Cowboys – I can’t tell you how much I’m delighted by Brett Favre falling on his 4-inch sword this week.  People that I know that have spent a lot of time around Green Bay have told me plenty of stories of #4’s adulterous womanizing douchebag ways that have been ignored over the past two decades by a media that insists upon pushing the facade of their All-American golden boy.   Good for Deadspin (an outlet I’ll always be grateful to for linking to this blog regularly when fellow Illinois alum Will Leitch was running it) for pushing to the forefront a clear incident of sexual harassment in the workplace that the mainstream media that just wants to pass off as a tabloid takedown of a “hero”.  (OK, so it might be tabloid takedown, but it’s deserved in this instance.)  That being said, I don’t know how the bookmakers continue to give the Cowboys so much credit – that’s a BAAAAAD team.  It also took the league’s best secondary to keep the newly formed Favre-Moss combo in check on Monday night and they still were able to connect for big plays late.  The Cowboys certainly don’t have anything close to the Jets’ secondary and Minnesota is an extremely tough place to play on the road.
  • Raiders (+6.5) over 49ERS – Good thing that Bay Area fans have the Giants in the NLCS to take their minds off of this craptacular metro area football fest.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 2-1

Bears Games for the Season: 2-3
Overall Season: 7-8

As always, feel free to use this post as an open thread for the weekend’s games and non-expansion college sports news.  If you want to talk about conference realignment in general, please continue the discussion on yesterday’s Through the Wire post.  Have a great weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

First off, the Frank the Tank empire is expanding.  In addition to the already-existing Twitter feed @frankthetank111, I’ve created a new Facebook page for the site, so you can “Like” (or “Dislike” on the Wall) the blog to your heart’s content and maybe figure out what some of the commenters here look like.

As for this week’s BlogPoll ballot, I had been holding off on moving Oregon up to #3, but I couldn’t any longer after that dominant performance against Stanford.  Granted, I’m still skeptical of how the eye-popping offensive numbers would look against opponents with top tier defenses.  Note that plenty of people thought that Oregon was going to score at will on Ohio State in last year’s Rose Bowl, but the Buckeyes pretty much hammered the Ducks.

It appears that I’m destined to go 1-2 in my picks each week, which is fairly frustrating with a ridiculous number of games having the Vegas outcome determined by garbage points in the last couple of minutes (i.e. Virginia Tech-NC State last week, Illinois-NIU a few weeks ago).  This is why it’s a good thing that I don’t live within driving distance of a sports book.  Anyway, onto this week’s parlay picks (with home teams in CAPS and odds from Bodog via Yahoo!):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

  • PENN STATE (-8) over Illinois – Direct quote from Ron Zook in today’s Chicago Tribune: “To me, it is exciting the fact we are going somewhere we have never won before.  All that does is make the percentages that much better that you’re going to win.”  As mentioned above, I’m not exactly a gambling savant, but I have a nagging feeling that’s not exactly how bookmakers determine the odds.
  • Arkansas (-6) over Texas A&M (neutral site at Jerry World) – I haven’t spent that much time in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but what time I have spent there indicates that the Rangers-Rays AL Division Series overlapping with the Arkansas-A&M game across the street for sure on Saturday and possibly the Cowboys-Titans game on Sunday will result in a Traffic Armageddon not seen since the combination of senior citizen and Pennsylvania drivers at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.
  • UCLA Bruins (+7.5) over CALIFORNIA – Am I missing something with this line?  Way too wide for my tastes for similarly performing teams. 

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 2-1
Overall Season: 5-9-1

NFL FOOTBALL

  • Packers (-2.5) over REDSKINS - Washington isn’t half bad, but let’s not get too carried away here.
  • BEARS (+1) over Panthers – If the Bears were playing ANYONE other than Carolina or Buffalo this week, the Todd Collins era would be an awful shellacking.  As it is, this was the right week for Jay Cutler to have a concussion.  In the meantime, the TV networks will have to update its “The Bears have had 697 starting quarterbacks since Brett Favre first started with the Packers” graphic for the next Chicago-Green Bay game.
  • Titans (+7) over COWBOYS – This feels like the Bears-Cowboys game in week 2 – way too much love from the bookmakers on Dallas here.

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 1-3
Overall Season: 5-7

As always, feel free to use this post as an open thread for the weekend’s games and non-expansion college sports news.  If you want to talk about conference realignment in general, please continue the discussion on yesterday’s Through the Wire post.  Have a great weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111 and Facebook)

I’ve been spending the last couple of months powering through The Wire for the first time on my Netflix queue.  (I just finished Season 4.  Until further notice, if anyone mentions a word about Season 5, I will hunt you down like Omar.)  The overarching theme of The Wire is that our institutions in society are largely intractable, where “good soldiers” that follow orders and tow the party line are rewarded with promotions while bold thinkers usually end up getting demoted, fired or shot.  “The System” is fixed in place with little hope for change, whether we’re talking about the drug trade, police tactics, political maneuverings or old people continuously believing that young people like the Black Eyed Peas.  (As depressing as that sounds, The Wire manages to weave in at least a few laugh out loud moments in each episode and I understand why plenty of critics call it the greatest TV drama of all-time.  I can’t believe that it took me this long to watch it.)

What the conference realignment process over the past year has shown is that college sports has its own entrenched system.  Slant reader duffman put together some incredibly detailed analysis of various college football programs over the years (here and here), with some of the takeaways being that decisions and circumstances from the early 1900s set up the system that we have today and not much has really changed in the sport’s hierarchy since World War II.  (This doesn’t count institutions that voluntarily de-emphasized athletics since then, such as the University of Chicago, Ivy League schools and service academies.)

When I first wrote the Big Ten Expansion Index post, I imagined conference commissioners and university presidents taking a Machiavellian approach in raiding each other to advance their own interests.  However, it has borne out that risk aversion largely rules the day.  For all of the talk about demographics, geographic footprint and basic cable subscribers, the Big Ten performed the equivalent of Berkshire Hathaway buying stock in Coca-Cola by adding tradition-bound and geographically contingent Nebraska.  (To be sure, it was definitely the right move.)  Texas, despite having the most powerful college program in the country on paper, couldn’t shake off the political shackles of Texas A&M and Texas Tech… assuming that it wanted to shake them off at all.  Big IIX commissioner Dan Beebe somehow kept the conference together based on a bunch of pie-in-the-sky promises regarding exit fees from Nebraska and Colorado (which have turned out to be about a third as much as predicted) and supposed future increases in TV revenues.  Now that the Big IIX has averted the Conference Grim Reaper, Texas-based politicians are likely going to keep it alive in perpetuity.  I know a lot of people believe that Texas is on the road to becoming independent in a few years, but I don’t see it.  Texas is in a very different situation than Notre Dame, not the least of which is having to answer to a whole lot of politicians and members of the general public that are going to demand UT to spread some wealth as opposed to just its fanatical alumni base.  Besides, Texas wants to own a massive plantation and sip mojitos while watching a bunch of worker bees from Lubbock and Waco do the landscaping work.  Notre Dame, on the other hand, just wants everyone to get the f**k off its lawn.  Both Texas and Notre Dame are power-hungry, but have different approaches in seeking/maintaining such power.

It took a guy from the world of women’s tennis in the form of Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott to attempt a truly revolutionary move.  Yet, in Wire-esque fashion, the Pac-16 proposal was rejected at the very last moment and the Pac-10 had to settle for the “good but not great” additions of Colorado and Utah that may not even raise conference revenues much compared to the status quo (if at all).  Plus, ESPN, who is still the ultimate sugar daddy for every conference (even the Big Ten), came down hard against the prospect of 16-school conferences and appears to be willing to pay up in order to prevent them from ever forming.  As a result, I’ve become extremely skeptical that there’s going to be much change for the foreseeable future among the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-10, ACC and Big IIX.  (On a side note, the commenters have been discussing what the new name for the Big IIX ought to be.  My vote would be for the Big Country: instant association with a band and song that you won’t be able to get out of your head for 8 hours straight after hearing it along with the ability to use Oklahoma State alum Bryant Reeves as the official conference mascot.)

This brings us to the Big East, which is the epitome of institutional dysfunction.  The conference has reportedly has offered Villanova a spot to move up from FCS and is in talks with TCU.  Now, TCU receiving an invite makes complete sense to me and I said as much back in February for a whole host of reasons.  What’s amazing to me, though, is that the Big East-related people that I’ve talked to believe that if it came down to having only a single spot for either Villanova or TCU, then the invite would go to Nova since the conference is hell-bent on preserving its hybrid format at all costs.  This would be the case despite the fact that Villanova has less history, a smaller student population and alumni base and worse stadium situation than Temple, which is a school that the Big East kicked out as a football member in the same Philadelphia market that has proven to focus almost completely on pro sports.  Of course, I’m not an advocate of the Big East splitting for the sake of splitting in order to add a bunch of C-USA schools at the expense of breaking up arguably the nation’s best basketball conference, but the last thing that the Big East needs to be doing is trying to add in an FCS program.  That’s a WAC-fighting-for-its-survival move as opposed to an expansion worthy of a BCS AQ conference.  (By the way, please see this incredibly honest and straight-forward email from the athletic director of current FCS program and prospective WAC member Montana that several people sent to me and went into great detail as to what it would take to move up to FBS and how the FCS playoffs are losing money.)

This is a display as to how entrenched schools and conferences can be within their own microsystems at the expense of programs such as TCU and BYU that by every reasonable measure are BCS-level schools TODAY.   The Big East was formed as a basketball conference that later tacked on a football component as a matter of convenience and that attitude still permeates even though the economics of college sports have changed over the past 2 decades where football rules all.  True to form, the Big East decided to replace the retiring Mike Tranghese with his long-time lieutenant John Marinatto as commissioner this past year as opposed to going after a Larry Scott-type outsider that could actually make an unbiased judgment as to how the conference is perceived in the outside world.  Combine that with former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue being brought on board as an advisor (who has an unabashed interest in preserving the hybrid as a trustee of Georgetown) and it feels as though we’re more likely to see a remedial or reactionary move by the Big East geared toward placating the delicate balance between the Catholic schools and football members than a forward-looking one in the form of inviting TCU and/or other worthy programs.  I have nothing against Villanova, but the thought of that school having an easier time being granted BCS AQ status over a whole host of other schools is ridiculous.

With my understanding that the Big Ten isn’t going to be looking to add anyone unless Notre Dame and/or Texas suddenly have a change of heart, any members of the Big East that want to better themselves are likely going to have do it individually instead of looking toward the conference.  Pitt, realizing that a Big East network isn’t on the horizon and likely wouldn’t work even if it ever came to fruition, has actually started its own TV network called PantherVision, which is largely made up of coaches’ shows, Olympic sports telecasts and bits of real panther, so you know it’s good.  It would behoove the other Big East schools that have strong local fan bases (i.e. Louisville, West Virginia, Connecticut) to start their own similar channels because I certainly wouldn’t have much confidence in the lackluster leadership in Providence if I were running any of those institutions.

The shuffling among the non-AQ conferences will certainly continue with the WAC on the endangered species list.  Among the power conferences, though, expect more of the same (with maybe a Big East addition or two) as opposed to bold moves for the next few years.  I hope that the Big East does the right thing and invites TCU, but don’t be surprised if the institutional bias in that conference ends up elevating Villanova alone.

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111)

(Image from What’s Alan Watching?)

 

I’m still swamped these days, but I promise that I’ll have some new views on the latest conference realignment-related stories soon.  In the meantime, for an old post that seems to be relevant again, here are my in-depth thoughts from back in February on why the Big East ought to go after TCU.  Here are this week’s parlay picks for both college football and the NFL with my obligatory Illini and Bears choices (home teams in CAPS and odds from bodog via Yahoo!):

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

  • ILLINOIS (+17) over Ohio State
  • NORTH CAROLINA STATE (+4) over Virginia Tech
  • BOSTON COLLEGE (+3) over Notre Dame

Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Illini Games for the Season: 1-1
Overall Season: 4-7-1

NFL FOOTBALL

  • TITANS (-6.5) over Broncos
  • Redskins (+6) over EAGLES
  • Bears (+4) over GIANTS

Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2

Bears Games for the Season: 1-2
Overall Season: 4-5

Once again, feel free to use this post as an open thread for the weekend’s games and non-expansion college sports news.  If you want to talk about conference realignment in general, please continue the discussion on the Big Ten Division-palooza post.  Have a great weekend!

(Follow Frank the Tank’s Slant on Twitter @frankthetank111)