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The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party: Mike Moran commentary

[1]The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
By Mike Moran

“Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that’s all there is my friends, then let’s keep dancing
Let’s break out the booze and have a ball
If that’s all there is”

Peggy Lee sang that in 1969 and it earned her a Grammy, but she might as well have been singing about the results of the volatile realignment game played by college presidents, athletic directors and conference commissioners…………so, Colorado and Utah head to the PAC-10 Conference and Nebraska will unleash thousands of football fans to the streets of Evanston, Columbus, State College, Ann Arbor and Iowa City in the future……..that’s it?  I guess what I have learned, along with a lot of others, is that indeed, Texas is Forever, and Bevo runs the show………..PAC-10 Commissioner Larry Scott almost scored a home run and was on the verge of creating the first Mega-Conference by adding not only CU, but Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to the league, making it the behemoth of college sports and changing the face of television revenue forever……….in the end, Scott would not let Texas dictate what the Longhorns always wanted, their own television network, and pressure came from a number of other sources that forestalled the seismic new order………..this is not going away, fans, so sit back and wait, because in a couple of years, we will see this shake out again as the Big 10 continues to court Notre Dame, and where the Irish go, so goes the world in college football…….there is simply too much money as a lure, and college athletics faces a future where the strong will survive in some sort of gigantism, with the less fortunate huddled by the side of the road in enjoyable, modest and economical leagues and alignments………and guess what? We will finally get the playoff that so many clamor for, but limited to the giants in four Super Conferences, and who knows what role the NCAA will play in all of this, maybe none………..Colorado and Nebraska got good deals, and both schools are better off in the PAC-10 and Big 10………and Craig Thompson landed a prize in Boise State for the Mountain West Conference, despite losing Utah in the process…….the Huskers were fed up with the way that the Big 12 developed, with all that power in the Texas-oriented South Division, league headquarters and football title games in Dallas and politics everywhere………..the Buffs get a league with institutions that have similar academic missions and a huge alumni base in Southern California, which will also help recruiting in a big way……….tell me that CU fans won’t enjoy rivalries with USC, UCLA, Utah and Washington………..I cut my teeth in my game as the Sports Information Director at CU from 1968-78, and took those road trips to Lincoln, Ames, Lawrence, Manhattan, Lawrence, Columbia, Stillwater and Norman, but it was always sort of out of synch where the Buffs were concerned………the media in those towns ridiculed Boulder and its culture, and their fans viewed Colorado as a great place to spend summers, but not as a sports rival………the Nebraska-Colorado “rivalry” was never bought by the Huskers or their media, no matter what Bill McCartney accomplished, and Nebraska has never forgiven the Big 12 for ruining their true rivalry with Oklahoma in the divisional arrangement…..I saw those Nebraska-Oklahoma games firsthand after Bob Devaney took the reins in Lincoln in 1962, and they were epic, history-making clashes, like the 1971 “Game of the Century” won by Nebraska 35-31 in Lincoln, and I covered the November 23, 1963 game in Lincoln as a young Omaha TV reporter on the weekend that President Kennedy was assassinated, won by the Huskers, 29-20………..with the President of the United States dead, and the nation in shock, oranges rained down on me in the end zone during the fourth quarter in Lincoln as fans celebrated the win and an Orange Bowl berth………..the survival of the Big 12 with its ten teams has been great theater this week………Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon heralded the new Big 12 which now has only 10 teams, while dissing the Cornhuskers and  Buffaloes for leaving……..Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, who was the AD at Nebraska awhile ago, got into a spat with some fan who sent him an e-mail, angered by the decision to stick with the Big 12 and not go to the SEC…………A&M fans were angry, tired of losing to Texas, but in the end, the money and politics kept the Aggies in line, prompting one pundit to remark that “In the end, though, when it came time to stand up to Texas, much like on the field in their annual rivalry, the Aggies were all hat and no cattle.”………….Missouri, which had openly courted Big 10 membership for months, also survived in the Big 12…………“If Missouri stays, that’s fine,” billionaire and Oklahoma State Uber-donor T. Boone Pickens said. “But I want them to shut up about trying to figure out someplace to go. They’re either a loyal member or they’re out with me. Nebraska has wanted to leave since the Big Six, and that’s 1940. That’s 70 years ago. What’s Nebraska got to offer? They’ve got (only) 700,000 households, and 1.8 million population.”…………….meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Texas athletic budget for this year is reported to be something around $137 million…….the United States Olympic Committee’s 2009 budget was $135 million……….Colorado spends about $45 million on sports, so there you go………..media rumors circulated earlier last week that the Big 12 was looking at adding BYU and Air Force to get back to a dozen members…………this is the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and it’s now taking future reservations.

Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. The Omaha, Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City’s Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant. Reach him at: mike@thesportscorp.org [2] and read more of his columns at www.coloradospringssports.org [3] .