At MGN we have not been following the realignment rumors as closely as in 2013. The latest we have touched on it was in July, when the Big 12 started its rumbling after Texas and Oklahoma declared for the SEC.
The coming half-decade will see limited television and streaming revenue as the major dollars are consolidated in the newly formed gigantic SEC/Big Ten/ACC leagues. Let us get North Texas into a league with some drivable destinations, against some opponents that can compete a little bit and have the same level of ambition. If the work to get in a league with a Texas Tech or an Oklahoma State can be done now, it should be done. That work is showing that NT has or can have the same level of ambition and support from alumni and powerful figures to be a good league partner.MGN
Well, the projected AAC after this round of realignment will have the following AAC West:
North Texas, SMU, UTSA, Tulsa, Rice, Memphis, and Tulane.
The farthest program is Tulane, and that is an easy 7-hour drive. It is possible to load up a rental van and have a party weekend to support the alma after for three division away games per season. Beautiful. Memphis, New Orleans, Houston, and San Antonio are all good places to spend a weekend, also. Good times can be had, folks.
Aside from that the reports are that NT will be getting roughly $2MM in distributions, an increase of $1MM per annum as a member, forgoing the ‘standard’ $7MM for a specified period of time. The payout to leave CUSA, as reported to me by a league spokesman, is two-years distribution, which roughly is $3MM all-told. NT would have to notify the league this by this summer, and the two-year clock would start then.
The investments in the program — the facilities, salaries, financial controls, marketing, support etc — have all paid off in this move. It used to be that NT had potential, but looked like it was run by amateurs. The stadium was poor, the facilities were garbage, and the meetings with leadership left people shaking their heads.
Now that this last decade has past, NT has capitalized on that potential a bit, and looks like it can do the things everyone always hoped were possible. There is a new hoops arena coming. Apogee is great, and the new practice field and other improvements have helped position NT as a player. Another $1MM per annum (for now, and then more later, theoretically) will help continue this growth (there is always more to be invested) and help retain some of the good coaches (McCasland, etc) or pay for their replacements.
I am a fan of retaining talent for as long as it is affordable, but also acknowledge that there are risks. Paying Littrell like the best coach in the league is cool, until he performs like the worst in the league. Paying Mac so he doesn’t leave for like, Tech or A&M is fine, until he underperforms (if).
But those are table stakes in this game. Does LSU regret paying Orgeron? No. They won a title. Those were good times. Now, it is time to replace him. If you asked them pre-title, if LSU fans would want to pony up the cash to buyout the head man if it meant a title in the near future? They would open up their checkbooks before you finished your sentence. This is a cliché, sure, but it is for a good reason.
NT supporters have to realize that the name of the game is donations. Giving consistently and generously is how you make sure the program has the cash to make moves when they are necessary. Sometimes that means a buyout for the coach who has wilted, and sometimes it also means for the coach you want to pry away from an otherwise good program.
In any case, let us enjoy this time. NT has moved from the Belt — the terrible version thereof — to CUSA, where it enjoyed a league title appearance in football, a league title in basketball, and good times in soccer to the AAC, which is essentially the version of the Conference-USA you remember from the mid-2000s.
The absolute best part of all of this is getting UTSA, Rice, SMU, Tulsa and Memphis in the rotation. Regionality is the thing, folks.
The next thing to do is get La Tech and Texas State on the phone and get some series scheduled. Maybe mix in a little UTEP for old times’ sake.1
If you snort at this consider that two of the best-attended games at Apogee were UTEP games in Denton. There are a lot of UTEP alumni in DFW. ↩