Texas Tech's Tuberville should fight for Big 12
BY DAVE SITTLER World Sports Columnist
Thursday, July 01, 2010
7/01/10 at 10:58 AM
Go to Dave Sittler's BlogOriginal Print Headline: Tech's coach shouldn't bail on Big 12 yet
THOMAS HAWLEY TUBERVILLE apparently missed history class when John Paul Jones was the lesson for the day.
While the remaining members of the beleaguered Big 12 Conference have adopted Jones' famous, "I have not yet begun to fight," attitude about survival, Tuberville is already waving the white flag.
This is strange, because Tuberville has never backed down in his career. You don't survive 14 years as a head football coach in the tough-as-it-gets SEC without knowing how to put up your dukes.
But there was Tuberville, who has yet to coach a game in the Big 12, predicting doom and gloom Tuesday about the future of a league that was rocked last month by the defections of Nebraska and Colorado.
Tuberville, hired in January to replace Mike Leach at Texas Tech, went on a radio show and declared: "I don't think this conference will last long."
It would be understandable if that comment came from coaches leaving the league, like Nebraska's Bo Pelini or Colorado's Dan Hawkins.
Some have praised Tuberville for having "the guts" to say something that a lot of his peers are thinking. That's one way to look at it. Another is that Tuberville's diplomacy skills need some polishing.
The Big 12 is in the fight of its 16-year life. And nobody can declare for absolute certainty at this point that the downsized conference will make it long term once the Cornhuskers and Buffaloes are gone.
But there are a whole bunch of schools that desperately need it to survive. And Texas Tech could be one of them.
Yes, Tech was a candidate when the Pac-10 wanted to add six Big 12 teams. But now that Utah has accepted an invitation along with Colorado, the Pac-10 only has four spots left to reach its goal of a 16-team conference.
Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor already know their chances of hooking on with another BCS conference could be slim should the Big 12 fold. Texas Tech could join them if the Pac-10 takes Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M.
So the prudent approach for Tuberville right now would seem to be to enlist in the fight to save the Big 12 instead of surrendering. At the very least, his negative comments to Rivals radio host Bill King had to leave many of his fellow Big 12 members extremely disappointed.
Tuberville, who reportedly has attended just one Big 12 meeting since his arrival in Lubbock, talked like someone who had been around since the Big 12 was officially formed in 1994 and started competition in 1996.
"There is too much disparity between the teams," he said, pointing out that the Big 12's television revenue-sharing plan isn't equally divided like the SEC's.
The SEC may give each member an equal TV share, but that league also allows individual revenue sharing opportunities for schools that create the interest in their product.
"Inequity" is often used to describe and deride how the Big 12 divides its TV cash. What Tuberville apparently doesn't understand is that "incentive driven" is a more apt definition.
It's designed to motivate schools to improve their football programs. The more they are on TV, the more money they make. That's why Missouri made more money than Nebraska when the Cornhuskers suffered through the Bill Callahan debacle.
Oklahoma is one of those often accused as having an unfair edge under the plan. The Sooners certainly have taken advantage of it since Bob Stoops arrived in 1999. Before that, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas were the powerhouse teams, while the Sooners' revenue share dipped during the dark ages of the Schnellenberger-Blake eras.
Because of his lack of Big 12 experience, Tuberville apparently is getting his information from disgruntled Tech officials. Some of his comments were accurate, while others were misplaced and definitely damaging to a league in the process of working on TV deals that could make the future of a 10-team conference very bright.
Perhaps Tuberville, who fought and won a lot of in-state battles with Alabama during his 10 seasons at Auburn, is playing some mind games with a Longhorns program that's comparable in Texas as the Tide in Alabama.
"Everybody is on the same page. Everyone gets the same votes," Tuberville said of the SEC. "That doesn't happen in the Big 12. We have some teams that get a little more money and have a little bit more stroke than some of the other teams.
"And when that happens, you are going to have teams looking for better avenues to leave and reasons to leave."
If the Big 12 dissolves, the avenues for Texas and OU will look like a super highway. Texas Tech? The Red Raiders could eventually be taking Route 66 to the Pac-10, or find themselves traveling on one of those bridges to nowhere.
That's why Thomas Hawley Tuberville needs to go John Paul Jones on the Big 12 naysayers by joining in the fight instead of jumping ship.