If it looks like a bribe, sounds like a bribe and smells like a bribe ...
By remaining in the Big 12 Conference, Texas can cast itself as the good guy, the savior even. The Longhorns stay, the Big 12 lives on. No matter that it has only 10 members, thanks to us, it's still a league. Aren't we wonderful?
The reality, though, is that the Longhorns were bribed. And so were Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
Had those three schools left, the Big 12 would have broken up, leaving Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor homeless. That wouldn't do. So they offered to give up part of their expected increase in league-wide revenue and hand it over to Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M -- already the three richest programs in the league -- if they'd stay in the conference.
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe says ISU and the four others agreed to give up their share of the penalty that Nebraska and Colorado will pay ffor leaving the league. ISU athletic director Jamie Pollard disputes that. But he does say ISU and the four others will compensate Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M for any revenue they might have lost by staying instead of fleeing to the Pac-10.
In other words, we'll pay you guys to keep playing with us.
You also can expect the Big Three to collect more television revenue than the others, which already is happening. Unlike the Big Ten, the Big 12 doesn't divvy up TV money equally among its members.
What's more, Texas gets the go-ahead to start its own TV network if it chooses -- and keep all the money. The rich just keep getting richer.
When I mentioned the bribery angle to an Iowa State fan the other day, she said she didn't care because her Cyclones wouldn't have to find a new league. Most other ISU fans probably feel the same way because the program will be better off in the end. Instead of 12 schools splitting revenue, it'll be divided only 10 ways, so Iowa State figures to get more money, not to mention the prestige of remaining in a BCS conference.
Some other issues will come into play. All 10 schools will play each other in football every year, meaning the Cyclones will face Texas and Oklahoma annually instead of twice every four years. Nine conference games will mean one less non-conference game. Does that leave room for the Iowa State-Iowa game to continue? We'll see.
In basketball, everyone probably will play a full round-robin of 18 conference games instead of 16. With Nebraska and Colorado no longer available to kick around on the hardwood, the league gets even tougher. As ISU women's basketball coach Bill Fennelly put it, the conference went from best to bestest.
For now, math purists must be offended by these conferences. The Pac-10 has 11 teams, the Big Ten has 12 and the Big 12 has 10.
But hey, what's in a name? Besides, the only numbers that count anymore in college athletics are those that have a dollar sign in front of them.