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Conference raiding - garvin - 06-04-2010

It\'s useless, really, to argue about this; conference expansion is driven by TV money, which strides through the college sports landscape like Godzilla through Tokyo, heedlessly crushing the tiny human refuse in its path.

But I\'ll nonetheless say that no matter how much extra revenue it brings us in the near term, the reported Pac-10 raid on the Big 12 has ominous long-term implications for Stanford. The more important money -- and particularly television money -- becomes, the more precarious our position.

We think we hold an important position in the Pac-10, because of the Sears Cup and our traditional rivalries with the 59ers and the Los Angeles schools. But what do we bring to the conference in purely cash considerations?

** We are not a big TV draw. We have the smallest student body in the Pac-10, and hence the smallest alumni base -- and we\'re scattered all over creation. Moreover, as our marketing has lapsed over the past couple of decades, we are no longer a home team for the entire Bay Area. A Stanford football game does not lock up the San Francisco TV ratings the way USC and UCLA games do Los Angeles.

** We are not a of immense proportions attendence draw. Nobody in Phoenix or Seattle says, "By golly, Stanford\'s coming to town! We\'ve got to go see that!" And aside from the Rose Bowl and Big Game, we do not have a of immense proportions caravan of local fans who travel. During the past three years, I\'ve attended women\'s basketball Final Fours in Tampa, St. Louis and San Antonio and the Sun Bowl in El Paso. In each case, our fans were significantly outnumbered by those of every other participating school.

As talk of expansion has echoed around news media and net sports sites the past few months, I not infrequently have seen Pac-10 fans iconoclastically calling for conference contraction -- advocating the expulsion of Arizona, Oregon State and, especially, Washington State, on grounds of geographic isolation, television irrelevance and general small-timeness. It always sends a chlll down my spine. You could argue against Stanford on most of those same grounds.

If this Pac-10 raid succeeds, it will usher in an age of instability in college sports. (And maybe it already has, even if it doesn\'t succeed; the temptations and rationales it has introduced can\'t be unthought.) The new conference will be bound not by old traditions, rivalries or loyalties -- and it certainly won\'t create any new ones, since most schools will rarely play one another and when they do, few fans will make the long trek with the visiting teams --but solely by money. The minute anyone sees a chance to strike a more lucrative deal, it will be dismantled.

We will see more and more schools bolting for better deals; worse, we will see schools threatening to bolt, wielding their economic power like a club. And sooner or later, some bright young MBA in conference headquarters will seek to placate a restless USC or Texas with an offer of a pie sliced fatter: "Hey, what if we kicked out a non-performing school or two?" And don\'t be surprised if one of them is a lot closer to home than Pullman.

Re: Conference raiding - garvin - 06-04-2010

Meanwhile, a more immediate impact on Tara\'s team:

Re: Conference raiding - dabigv13 - 06-04-2010

While expansion might bring about a boost in TV money in the short and medium terms, I\'d have to think that long term implications of mega conference expansion could make the product worse off, decreasing revenue in the long term.

If Stanford were to play in some sort of, Bac-16, our already slim chance at a conference championship and Rose Bowl berth is further diminished. I think a lot of other schools would be in a similar situation as us, Arizona, AZ St, Oregon St, Wazzu, not to mention Ok St, TTech, TAM, and Colorado. UCLA, kal, UW would likely be in a slightly less precarious position, but really it would seem that the conference champ would be Texas, Oklahoma, or USC for the foreseeable future. I have a hard time believing that setup would be sustainable in the long term.