There has been a lot of finger pointing going around college football the last couple of weeks. It all comes in the wake of Oklahoma and Texas shocking the college sports world by leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. One of the many allegations from Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby is that ESPN worked with the AAC to try and destroy the Big 12 and get some schools to join that conference.
In the cease and desist letter Bowlsby sent ESPN, he didn’t just allege that ESPN conspired to get Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, but he told Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports that “I’m absolutely certain [ESPN was] involved in it with the [American] trying to poach our members.”
Bowlsby also told CBS Sports that ESPN’s actions are, “tortious interference”.
But on Wednesday at AAC media days, commissioner Mike Aresco denied that emphatically, saying the assertion that his conference conspired with ESPN to kill the Big 12 “unfounded” and “grossly irresponsible accusation”.
ESPN had also previously responded, saying in a statement saying the “claims have no merit”.
However the leverage for the Big 12 remains money. As Bowlsby said this week in front of the Texas Senate, Big 12 teams could lose $14 million per team without Oklahoma and Texas. But that still puts them above the $20 million mark per team, while the AAC is making less than $10 million per team.
So while many want to already write off the Big 12 Conference as dead and gone, they still have reasons to believe their survival is possible, and the idea that any school would willingly jump ship for the AAC is comical. Unless, of course, ESPN does collude to try and bring down the Big 12.