All the hype and discussion around the Big XII expansion might come down to seven simple letters.

ESPN and Fox.

The two TV partners of the conference have been grumbling their displeasure over the proposed expansion, saying that the additional teams would "water down" the conference, basically disrespecting teams being mentioned such as Houston, UConn, UCF, Cincinnati and Memphis. But this isn't really about the schools or their programs, it's about what everyone knows it's about- money.

ESPN and Fox are bound by their contract which states that they have to pay pro rata, or equal current value, to any teams added to the conference. So while a Houston vs. UCF game matters to fans in Houston and Orlando, the TV partners are overtly concerned that the ratings the game would generate wouldn't be that strong, thereby preventing their ad teams from selling the games with a high rating, which means less money for them.

The current Big XII deal is worth $2.6 billion over 13 years, which is a lot of money. This means that the networks need advertising sales on a national and affiliate basis to be strong in order to make money on the investment. In their opinion, diluting their money making opportunities through expansion is a bad idea.

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