As ESPN's Brett McMurphy tweeted earlier this week and the Mothership noted, the Big 12 Conference has signed a 13-year, $2.6 Billion media rights deal with ABC/ESPN and FOX. Divide by 10, carry a few 0's, move the decimal point to the right and add some commas, and that's $20,000,000.00 per school per year. Just from the tier 1 and tier 2 media rights Tier 3 rights---i.e., rights to broadcast games that ESPN and FOX don't choose as part of their package (usually 1-2 football games a year, plus a few basketball games and olympic sports)---will be bid out to a third party, expected to be in the $5-8 Million range. Oh, and then there's bowl revenue, and ticket sales, and concessions. Yes, WVU is going to be fairly well-off financially over the life of this contract.
A friend lamented to me last night that college football conference realignment is all about the money. And while that sounds cynical, he's absolutely right. What he neglected to mention was that money matters for more than just money. Money matters because it has a direct impact on a school's ability to compete at the highest level. We've gone over this before, but schools with more money can hire and retain better coaches, build better facilities, have more and better stuff to attract better recruits, and, hence, win more. Is it a shame that some schools who aren't as financially attractive may get left in the dust? Sure. Is it frustrating that realignment has destroyed some of college football's best rivalries? Yes. We'd all like to score 100 points on Pitt this year. But if we want WVU to win a national championship---or even have the ability and opportunity to compete for one---those are the realities we have to live with.
For the first time in its history, WVU is officially at the big boy table. And what makes it better is that the conference is stable. The 13 year grant-of-rights assures that nobody is going anywhere for the foreseeable future. The climb from the Southern Conference through independence, through the Big East, has been long and difficult, but WVU football has arrived. Not that we are a top 5 program yet (and we may never be one), but in terms of opportunity, exposure, and equitable finance, we are in the same club as Oklahoma and Texas. Think about that for a minute. Think about how far we've come as a program. And the next time you see Jim Clements or Oliver Luck, make sure to thank them for this fantastic opportunity. As WVUIE97 said earlier today, CHA-CHING!!!!!