It wasn't a surprise, this ESPN/Texas deal. Not the money, not the partner, not the length. The Longhorn Network -- or whatever you want to call it -- was announced Wednesday, a deal worth $300 million over the next 20 years.
Somewhere in there they managed to remind us that "campus musical performances" would also be televised and you had to chuckle. Sure, TLN will fund some other areas -- half the money in the first five years will go to the university -- but at its core this about Texas controlling the market, the Big 12, the universe.
It's about power -- just like the BCS, which got me to thinking. We all know that our beloved postseason system is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars on the table by ignoring a playoff. The commissioners would rather control the system than profiti more by it.
The Texas deal, though, should be a sign. A modest Plus-One playoff (four teams) can, and should, be in college football's future. I wrote about it on the day of the BCS championship game.
I asked BCS executive director Bill Hancock directly why the BCS couldn't enter into its own long-term agreement with a rights holder. Hancock said" "Don't kid yourself. The bowls would suffer." To loosely quote the conclusion in the book, "Death To The BCS", that's B.S. A Plus-One could be locked in for 15, 20, 25 years. The BCS fathers could expand it, shrink it, dump it. The point being that the BCS commissioners, like Texas, control the system so it's theirs to manipulate.
"Everybody we do business with, we do long-term stuff with them," Texas AD DeLoss Dodds told me Wednesday. "We find somebody we like and put some length on it."
As for the BCS doing a long-term Plus-One agreement, I asked Dodds about that too.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "You have to get the Rose Bowl past where they are."
The Big Ten-Pac-12-Rose Bowl blockade of an expanded postseason is not insignificant. But, remember, we once thought something like the BCS was impossible because the Big Ten and Pac-10 did not want to give up their exclusivity to the Rose Bowl. On Jan. 1, TCU of the Mountain West won in Pasadena. There goes some of that exclusivity.
TLN is such a game-changer that Texas is now essentially competing as an independent. It has a contract with ESPN. It has scheduling agreement with the nine other teams in the Big 12. The conference could go away but Texas/ESPN won't. Dodds swears his will stay loyal to the reconstituted 10-team Big 12, but for how long? It was within a heartbeat of jumping to the Pac-10 last summer.
"If something happened and the Big 12 would dissolve in some way -- which would not be caused by us because we're not going to do that -- who would take us with our network?" Dodds asked. "That's a question in my mind and I assume someone would."
Yeah, somehow poor, old Texas would scrape by.
Control. Security. It's something the BCS should think about. A four-team Plus-One solves a lot of problems. It would produce a more legitimate champion. It would take care of, in most years, all the undefeated teams at the top. For example, this year we're still wondering about how TCU would match up against Auburn.
It would move the access argument from between the No. 2- and No. 3-ranked teams to No. 4 and No. 5. That actually would mean less of an argument. That also would equal a better football postseason
We'd have Texas to thank for the template. The Horns rule. Literally.