Okay Kansas City. I’ve got a little venting to do, so stay with me. Am I the only one that is just about sick and tired of ESPN? The network has become so bloated and egotistical over the years that it is getting hard to watch. Yes, they have become the world wide leader in sports entertainment and it’s impressive considering its roots as a small cable tv outlet in Bristol, Connecticut and yes if you need to know anything about sports, you can trust ESPN– usually– with their numerous channels, ESPN The Mag, web access and smart phone apps.
However, there is one thing that is driving me crazier than the constant coverage of Tim freaking Tebow sucking at football and that is their influence on the sports themselves is really starting to get annoying. All of this recent conference realignment in NCAA college football is a prime example that ESPN is putting its nose where it doesn’t belong and it has affect our local schools and has the University of Missouri convinced that playing in the SEC is a better option. There really is no other explanation as to why all of these schools are shuffling around from conference to conference other than to get lined up with big money TV deals.
And who has the biggest contracts in college football TV money? Yup, ESPN with nearly $700 annually in money going out to the NCAA. Between ESPN and ABC, the networks have ties to nearly every conference and just about every single bowl game. Why isn’t there a football playoff? Because these schools have been convinced that there is more money in sticking with the ignorant BCS rankings game.
The Big 12 over the past couple of years has undergone some drastic changes and this past summer it looked like the conference might be completely disbanded. After losing Colorado to the Pac 12 and Nebraska to the Big 10 last year, the conference saw Texas A&M bolt already and it looks like Mizzou is going to be the next to go. Why? Because the SEC wants the St. Louis TV market– and guess what else? Nobody cares about what we here in Kansas City think about this.
MU had officials in town last week to try and do some damage control. The once emminant announcment that the Tigers were leaving the Big 12 for the SEC hasn’t happened yet. Some think MU might be willing to hear out acting commissioner Chuck Neines on what the future of the Big 12 might include. The conference has already added Texas Christian University and last week West Virigina edged out Louisville for another invite. There has been speculation that Notre Dame is now involved in talks to join the conference in all sports but football.
Now you have the Big East inviting a bunch of schools, including Boise St. to join. Besides getting into what may or may not still be considered a BCS invite conference, why in the hell would Boise St. want to join the Big East. The last I checked, Boise was out west. How happy are fans going to be to realize that they are going to have to start saving money for trips to the east coast instead of the northwest region or west coast. I’d imagine not happy at all. Does anyone care? No. Because man that TV money is looking pretty good in the eyes of the Boise St. athletic department– and yeah that school has been screwed year in and year out because they aren’t a BCS school. Money. TV. ESPN.
Does Missouri really think they can compete every year in the SEC like they do in the Big 12? I hope not. Look, I’m a KU fan, I will admit it. I want MU to stay here so we continue a historical rivalry. But I get it. The SEC is cool. Alabama and LSU are awesome and you get a lot of respect just because you’re in the conference but does Mizzou really think they are a southern state? Because really, that’s what this is coming down to. And they see the dollar signs. ESPN loves the SEC. However in my opinion, if MU stays here, they will win more consistently than they will in the Southeastern Conference.
And I get it– schools like A&M and Mizzou are sick of Texas getting all the favortism and especially the ridiculous TV network that the Longhorns have put together but is bolting because of jealousy really going to be helpful in the long run? But see for some reason every seems to think all us folks in the midwest are boring. The real kicker is the misconception ESPN has in its believe that nobody wants to watch schools like KU, KSU, Iowa St., etc. unless we are in a league with more viewer friendly teams like North Carolina and ‘Bama and Florida and USC and so on and so on.
Lastly, how is Kansas City affected? Well, it’s easy. What do we have to lose that really pumps money into KC? If you said the Big 12 Tournament, you are correct. Will KU and K-State continue to play games at the Sprint Center and is the Big 12 as a conference really going to want to play conference games in a state (Missouri) that no longer houses a Big 12 school? More likely that conference tournament gets moved to Oklahoma City or Dallas, which doesn’t give a damn about the tourney. Another possibility is rotating the tournament and maybe Wichita, Ks. gets in on it.
So let’s say MU goes to SEC. Kansas City loses the Big 12 Tournament and KU and K-State both stop playing games at the Sprint Center, whether they want to or not, they may not have a choice in the matter. How does this affect say…the College Basketball Experience and Hall of Fame? The good news is for MU fans is their games will still get aired. By ESPN. Because they are in the SEC. But in KC, we get SEC forced into Big 12 country and guess which conference is going to get preferential treatment? You got it.
The bad news for the rest of us, is that Kansas City becomes a little more insignificant because who cares about the KC TV market right? The Big needs to do something about its own TV contract and hopefully that is one thing that Neines can do in his limited reign as Big 12 head honcho. But conference realignment has to get itself under control. These schools have to understand that they need to base these decisions on what is best for the schools, the students, the athletes and yes– even the fans.
So, there ya go, Kansas City. I’m back. Be sure to subscribe to my column to get an trusty email sent to you when I post something fresh.
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