With the official announcement of a Pac 12/Big 10/ACC alliance, it is clear much of the college football landscape has buried the Big 12. Texas Tech fans, come in close and listen; it is time to firmly grasp and accept a Texas Tech, AAC union.
Power is the one thing driving all of this change. Money too, but power is money in college athletics. The SEC is trying to create a way to self-insulate if (when) the NCAA collapses. Three other current Power five conferences are looking to join forces to “stabilize a volatile environment.”
College football fuels the power. College football drives the bus for all of college athletics. Spare the basketball school arguments. Kentucky football has greater revenue generation than Kentucky basketball. And this was happening before the Wildcats have become competitive on the football field. Baseball is only profitable for approximately 10% of all programs at the division one level. Red Raider fans, I know the last 5 years have been unprecedented in national relevance in both of these sports, but if they want real power (and money) they need to start winning on the gridiron.
Quick math tells the average fan that 12 is greater than 4. The newly proposed 12-team playoff guarantees a playoff spot for the six highest-ranked conference champions. Assuming the Big 12 does indeed stay six feet under, that would leave only nine FBS football conferences. If the last seven years have proved anything; it’s that the smallest conference will be left out. In a new 12-team playoff world, Conference USA and the MAC are almost guaranteed to never be in serious contention to earn a playoff berth. Ultimately, a playoff expansion equals greater access.
Greater Playoff Chances
In the long run, a world where Texas Tech and the AAC co-exist means a greater playoff chance. Oklahoma has won the Big 12 for six consecutive years. Iowa State is playing at unprecedented heights. Texas is a sleeping giant. Oklahoma State has won at least seven games every season since 2006, including 10 wins in six of those seasons. Texas Tech has not been able to even get to the top of the Big 12 one time. The last conference title was a co-championship of the 1994 Southwestern conference (last outright, 1955 Border conference). So I will ask the question to Red Raider fans? Don’t you want to win a conference title? Don’t you want to be in the college football playoff?
Growth is Inevitable
The playoff world is only going to become larger. “But I don’t want my college football to just be about the playoff.” Why? A fan can celebrate a team’s accomplishments if they don’t lift the ultimate trophy at the end of the year. But, at the same time, a fan should continue to expect their team to continue to make strides to get better to win the ultimate prize. They aren’t playing the game just because they are bored; those Red Raider football players are playing to win each and every game. The current top teams of the AAC, including Cincinnati, UCF, and SMU, are on the same level that Iowa State is right now. They are all really good teams but aren’t elite teams. Texas Tech can come into the league, understanding the infrastructure needed to compete at the highest level, and can compete right away with anyone in the league.
Forget the term “Power 5”
The AAC is a step-down. “Texas Tech deserves to be a Power 5 team”. We just talked about playoff expansion. The current rendition is already viewed as a “Power 5.5” worthy league. Assuming 6 conference champions are guaranteed a spot at the playoff annually, the name of the conference is (mostly) irrelevant. Sure, the SEC is going to be loaded with rosters that have tons of recruiting stars on them. And many of those players will still want to play in that league with the goal of getting into the NFL. Hear this though Texas Tech fans, if the program can develop (which I know currently is a big ask), playoff appearances can lead to more national exposure. I seriously doubt the playoff committee will give a playoff bid to an 8-4 SEC team over an 11-1 AAC team because it still boils down to winning the games.
Leadership would improve with Texas Tech, AAC working together. The Big 12 has a well-documented history of being held together with Elmer’s glue and duct tape. All of it capped off with its bell cow programs conducting essentially a Coup d’état to grab more power and money. AAC Commissioner Michael Aresco has gone through, and survived, changes to his league before. He is a commissioner that Texas Tech fans can trust will run a conference with all teams on the same page.
Don’t Fear Change
Don’t be scared Red Raider fans, college football certainly is going to look vastly different than most of us know it to be. This change is going to likely be taking place over the next 5 years, with many TV deals/grants of rights expiring across the country. There will be things I personally miss for sure. But the game, the pageantry, those will still be the same. The feeling of winning big games will still be there. It is time for Texas Tech fans to turn the page, just like they did at the Border and Southwestern conference. Come jump aboard the Texas Tech, AAC train before the seats fill up.