July 28, 2011

Three and Out: Life in a television generation

Here is this week's "Three And Out," a weekly feature that will provide a quick but opinionated take from Tom Dienhart on three hot topics.

1. Television generation. We all have heard the complaints from Big 12 folks over Texas' soon-to-be-launched Longhorn Network, which will be done in conjunction with ESPN. Conference coaches are outraged over the idea that the network could televise Texas high school football games, which in the eyes of rival Big 12 coaches would give the Longhorns a massive recruiting edge. And they probably are correct. But don't feel sorry for the other Big 12 schools. They knew the bed they were crawling into when they agreed to remain with Texas in the Big 12 following the defections of Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-12) after last season. The other Big 12 schools knew one of the conditions for Texas remaining in the Big 12 - and keeping the league together - was that it would be allowed to begin its own TV network. Well, here it comes, in all of its massive built-in-advantage glory. If the other Big 12 schools don't like it, they can leave. But the only schools with likely viable options are Texas A&M and Oklahoma. There has been speculation that both could be candidates to join the SEC in the future. Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State likely have no such options. They appear stuck taking whatever Texas gives them. Such is life in the Big 12, which should just change its name to "Big Texas." While other leagues are expanding, the Big 12 has contracted and has a house that's uneasy. How long can this marriage last?

2. Dreaming is free. Let's say Oklahoma and Texas A&M do bolt the Big 12 for the SEC. Both could be put in the SEC West, and Alabama and Auburn could be moved to the SEC East and Vanderbilt to the West. Talk about a formidable 14-team league!

3. Tough turnaround. When I first looked at Mississippi State's schedule, I was stunned to see that in early September, the Bulldogs play host to LSU just five days after playing at Auburn. That's two SEC powerhouses in less than a week. Do you think the SEC would make a school such as, say, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Auburn or Georgia navigate a daunting stretch like that on a short week? No way. The cries of outrage would be long and loud from those precincts. But, hey, it's Mississippi State, which never figures to be a consistently elite SEC team. And that's why it got this scheduling shaft. Too bad. Dan Mullen has a difficult enough task winning in Starkville. More proof that college football can be one of the most unfair sports in the nation.

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.


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