I've reached the point where the rumors make me roll my eyes. But it is the offseason of college football and spring practices have not yet started so we need something to talk about. Yet we have one commissioner openly talking about looking west and adding teams if it makes sense and another not talking publicly but apparently funneling certain media members rumors about his league to see what the public reaction is.
And so the latest whispers have the Big 12 doing nothing, adding basketball only members, adding 2-4 full-time members and talking with the planet Pluto about adding another time zone. The Pac 12 is supposedly adding San Diego State, as their AD keeps telling people, or hoping other members vote for adding the Aztecs- and no one is sure they have the eight votes to get in. The idea that SMU delivers the Dallas market is just that, an idea, because they don't. Few schools deliver a large media market and the larger the market the likely you are to deliver anything.
But it does appear the Pac 12 knows what the remaining media companies interested in doing business with them are offering. Depending on what you want to believe among the many media reports is that Amazon and ESPN are the two offering the Pac 12 a deal that may total less than what the Big 12 is getting for its members. If true, and no one really knows, then Pac 12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff has a problem. He publicly and privately told people his media deal would, at least, be as good as the Big 12 and likely better. If he can't deliver then he likely won't be commissioner in years to come. So, what does one do in a situation like that? Why you call the Big 12 and try to talk about partnerships- like a merger.
Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormack doesn't need to do anything to throw the Pac 12 a lifeline. Yormack has publicly talked about getting into a fourth time zone. He's talked about basketball only members and he's listening to anything to enhance his league's brand and coverage with the exits of Texas and Oklahoma. But Yormark knows he can only add teams, in whatever form, if his current members keep their expected payouts in the future or see them increase.
Among the many rumors out there is the idea of adding Gonzaga as a basketball only member. For starters, I don't know where Gonzaga puts the rest of their sports and there would beno support to make them a full member in the Big 12, minus football. No one argues how good the Zags have been in basketball but how sustainable is it if Mark Few is no longer their coach? Brad Stevens left Butler for the Celtics in 2013. Butler joined the Big East the following season and made four straight NCAA Tournaments. Barring a run through the Big East Tournament, Butler will miss the NCAA Tournament for a fifth straight season and may suffer a losing season for the fourth time in five seasons.
When the AAC added Wichita State, the Shockers had gone six straight years to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament under Gregg Marshall. They've made one tournament since and Marshall is no longer their coach and the Shockers have become just another team in the AAC.
But back to the rumors of a big merger and Yormark has leverage. He doesn't need to help the Pac 12. He can let Kliavkoff show his members the best media deal and if those schools don't like what they see, Yormark can pounce and pick who you want. I do think there are numbers a league should not go to because at some point it's not a conference and the media money is diluted. Most media people think 16 is the max and 20 becomes a convention.
For now, I think the Big 12 stands down and lets the Pac 12 schools make a decision if a media deal is good enough to stick together and maybe add San Diego State and SMU. But I don't think those schools have enough votes unless the media money is there. If it's not, Kliavkoff needs help and that might come in talking with Yormark about partnerships, mergers or anything to survive. I don't think the Big 12 wants all of the Pac 12 schools but there are some they would take.
At some point the cards must be put on the table and the Pac 12 media deal, wherever the figure comes in, will be presented to members. That's when the dominos begin to wobble or fall. Until then, lots of stuff to laugh at, roll your eyes at and wonder where and who these rumors are coming from, but that's conference realignment these days...
Nuggets: NBA All-Star Game losing coach Mike Malone called it "The worst basketball game ever played." Not sure about that. My eighth grade team was held to 7 points in a loss that I think was the worst game ever. But I get his point after last night's exhibition in Utah between the NBA's best players. It was a glorified layup line and three-point contest with people running around avoiding any effort to play a game. How do you fix it? You don't. You can't. This is what the NBA All-Star Game has become and most all-star games are like this. Do you even know the format of the NHL All-Star Game? The Pro Bowl is not an egg-tossing contest. MLB still has the only true all-star game because, while the stars don't play enough, pitchers don't lob pitches to batters and the basic concept of the game is still played...Speaking of the NBA's All-Star Weekend, Mac McClung won the Dunk Contest and people went crazy over his performance. But why was he even in the contest to begin with? He's played two NBA games and has been a G-League player with a two-way contract with the Sixers, but despite his "mad hops" have we reached a point that so few NBA players want to participate in this event?...The XFL is back and while our Guardians were awful, my feelings about the XFL, USFL or anything FL- it's football. If you want to watch and enjoy it, that's great. If it's not for you, then don't watch. Funny how ESPN showcased highlights on SportsCenter for the spring league they televise but acted liked the USFL- with games on Fox and NBC- didn't exist...I watched and still not sure what the rules are at the end of the Daytona 500. But congrats to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and team owner Brad Daugherty for a fantastic finish...I think...Finally, my wife and I were strolling through the Winter Garden Farmers Market and there was a street musician playing the guitar. He had a tip jar that was full of bills. My thought was that it was a mistake. With a full tip jar are people more likely to not add to the jar versus a tip jar that is maybe a third full?
Final note: On this Presidents Day, John F. Kennedy was the youngest president ever being inaugurated at age 43.