(This story was updated on June 16, 2010, at 9:20am EST to reflect that Penn State became the 11th school in the Big 10 several years ago.)
They say that you shouldn’t mess with Texas, but this week Texas decided not to mess with everyone else.
The University of Texas Longhorns, one of the nation’s premiere college football teams, are staying in the Big 12 Conference, rebuffing overtures from the Pac 10 Conference, and as such helped avoid a chaotic scramble among schools searching for more television and conference revenue. Two Big 12 teams, Nebraska and Colorado, decided to leave the Big 12 for the Big 10 and Pac 10, respectively, which helps both schools and makes the already powerful Big 10 a 12-school conference (Penn State became the 11th school several years ago).
“The Big 12 kept their marquee football programs – Texas and Oklahoma and the majority of conference games that involve either Texas or Oklahoma generate strong demand,” Zach Anderson, chief operating officer for TicketCity in Texas, told TicketNews. “Losing Nebraska obviously takes one big game off everyone’s schedule, but if [Texas] A&M, [Texas] Tech, Missouri and Oklahoma State continue to succeed in football then I think demand across the conference will remain solid.”
While professional sports tend to be big business for East Coast brokers, due to the number of professional teams from Boston down to Florida, college sports, particularly football, is big for a lot of Southern and Midwest brokers. So, if a school decides to move conferences, it would shift thousands of dollars in purchases from one conference to another because of the potential new teams on the schedule. Nebraska, for example, has a devoted following, but excitement will spike at the prospect of facing Michigan and/or Ohio State on a regular basis.
“Nebraska moving to the Big 10 will cause us to look hard at acquiring tickets to a Big 10 Championship Game, when they get that off the ground,” Scott Meach, CEO of Atlanta-based SecondTicket, told TicketNews, adding that 30 percent to 40 percent of his company’s sports business is in college football, particularly in the Southeastern Conference.
He added that the big news would have been if Texas ended up leaving the Big 12 and that conference ended up folding.
“If that scenario had happened, bowl game contracts that many brokers have would have been impacted.”
Anderson does not believe Colorado’s move to the Pac 10 will have much effect, until its football program turns around. But, Nebraska’s move will have some impact.
“I think Nebraska is a brand that adds strength to ticket demand in the Big 10. Cornhusker fans will want to see matchups against Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, etc.,” Anderson said. “And, since Nebraska is the new team on everyone in the Big 10’s schedule, that will generate a lot of demand in their first few years in the conference.”
Lance Patania, president and CEO of New Jersey-based Prominent Ticket Service, said he doesn’t anticipate too much of a change in which teams or games he plans to purchase.
“These moves were all about television contracts, which pay these schools a lot of money. Some teams will play some new opponents, which will help to drive up some ticket sales, but the conferences won’t be overly affected,” he said.