Today I interviewed Coach Tuberville as the team prepares to face Virginia Tech in the Military Bowl. There was a real energy inside the practice bubble as the players worked toward a better outcome than last year’s bowl defeat. The team was hitting and competing this afternoon.
As we met, Coach and I discussed a number of items, including preparations for the Hokies, and (probably most interesting to the assembled Bearcats readers) conference realignment. I’ll let the interview speak for itself, and then draw some ill-informed and hasty conclusions…
Determining truth from fiction in all of the rumors about conference realignment has been no easy task. But, it’s refreshing to hear Coach Tuberville speak candidly. Indeed, I think he’s spot on. I don’t think the Big 12 Conference invites anyone unless they are forced to add teams by the NCAA, or the existing members can make as much or more money with a subsequent media deal after the invitations have been extended.
Right now, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and all of the other Southwestern schools (and West Virginia) are sitting on a huge pile of money. In my experience, businesses, and make no mistake “college” football is big business, do not part with money easily or willingly. One of two things, then, must occur as a condition precedent to any additional invitations being sent to UC or Memphis. First, the entities that control the Big 12 media contracts must be willing to pony up more money so that the existing members don’t have to share or move off their large pile of money. Or, second, the NCAA must refuse to provide the Big 12 with an exemption to hold a conference championship game with only 10 members. Call me crazy but I do think the Big 12 members want to play for national championships, both for money and pride.
How things progress with realignment is beyond me. And probably you. I’ve now asked Coach Cronin and Coach Tuberville what they anticipate. Their guesses, along with your guesses, are probably as good as mine. Although I do believe Coach Tuberville knows the Big 12 characters based on his tenure at Texas Tech. So, his sense of the situation is likely more accurate than anyone’s.
Like you, I would love for the Bearcats to play in the Big 12. If you noticed from the interview, I was asking about his take on realignment like a child asks his parents if Santa is bringing a bike. Yet, I need to say this: I don’t think life ends if no Big 12 invitation comes.
Sure, the AAC is not a Power 5 conference. And sure, it’ll kind of suck to continue playing Tulane and Tulsa (from now on – the “T” schools – on this site) in football instead of Texas and Oklahoma. However, the Bearcats still have a top flight basketball program, one of the best college football programs in the nation, two great coaches, a baseball program on the rise, and a track record for overcoming aging facilities and winning no matter the circumstance. Go Bearcats!
By Brian Fox