North Texas isn’t getting into the Big 12. The attendance, endowment, general fan support, and quality of the revenue producing Athletic Department is not up to the standard the conference wants.
If it were possible, the influx of cash into Denton coffers would be welcome, and go a long way toward helping produce a winner. No one wants a charity case, however and the Big 12 (ten) wants contributors toward the bottom line. Everyone likes more money. That should take care of the naive, the dreamers, and the unpractical among you.
Based on reasonable amateur assessments of the situation, the best we can determine is some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, and/or UConn + maybe one more – who knows?
The fallout is where North Texas is affected. The last time we did this dance, North Texas was able to level up from the Sun Belt to CUSA, bag a few years of solid revenue, and enjoy life for a bit. With the new stadium, a decent football coach, and relatively good basketball history in the short term, things were looking up.
Then we had the twin horrors of a terrible basketball team and the worst football loss in FBS history. Now? The stadium is still one of the nicest you’ll find but that isn’t enough to give ol’ NT a heads-up in the competition. Intrepid UNT Beat writer Brett Vito detailed the arms race recently. No doubt you already read that.
If the AAC were to be poached, the likelihood of a Rice, or WKU moving over instead of NT is higher thanks to our friends 1 at SMU. Even if they fought for our inclusion, UNT doesn’t bring in a market not already covered. That’s a no-go.
The good news is that we already have a series with SMU, so we don’t need to be in a conference with them to maintain something like a rivalry. Otherwise we’d be hoping and praying like NMSU, who desperately hope to join UTEP or UNM somewhere.
WKU, proud basketball team and old FCS powerhouse, is happy with their situation … but would like to improve the bottom half of the conference.
WKU AD Todd Stewart in June:
“We’re thrilled to be in Conference USA. I think it’s a great league for us,” Stewart said about those prospects. “I think we’re with like-minded schools much more so than when we were in the Sun Belt. To be aligned with Charlotte and Old Dominion and Marshall and Middle Tennessee and UAB and Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss – those are schools very similar to us that I think our fans identify with and relate to. I think it’s a strong conference overall. If that bottom half can just improve, then I think there’s great days ahead.”
However great they feel about Charlotte, ODU, and Marshall, the bigger checks from the AAC trump any friendship or ‘fit’. If you don’t believe me you must not have been paying attention for the last 30 years.
It seems the best that UNT can hope for is the fit that WKU appreciates with its current setup. Maybe a Texas State or Arkansas State?
The Red Wolves are a former Sun Belt foe who have managed to put together winning teams despite being poached for their head coach every year. Texas State is more UTSA’s rival 2 but would be a solid replacement for UTSA if they were to be called up by the American in the conference’s quest for market dominance 3.
Either would reduce the travel burden somewhat, and are more in line with the type of program North Texas has at the moment. Is it perfect? Nope. Is it reality? Yep.
There is always the looming possibility of a mega conference that is essentially ‘The Rest’. Also the possibility of a top level split that puts North Texas back into a de facto second division, with only the hope of some kind of promotion/relegation system at best. Right now, this isn’t even being discussed publicly so this is the last we’ll mention it.
With that, enjoy what is left off your weekend. The Night Of is great. Watch that.