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S-N Editorial

Expansion was Big 12’s only choice; Easy does it during busy harvest season

 

September 23, 2021



Expansion was Big 12’s only choice

Sometimes you’re against the wall and the only way out is through it. Just ask the Big 12 Conference.

The league, of which Iowa State is a member, was thrown into turmoil this summer when Oklahoma and Texas announced they would soon be fleeing to the money-green pastures of the Southeastern Conference. With bigger names and more TV revenue, the decision was driven completely by the almighty dollar. Both OU and UT already rake in cash and the opportunity to make more was simply too enticing to ignore.

That left the remaining Big 12 schools adrift in the ocean of college athletics. None of them are big brands like their two soon-to-be-former conference members, making them unattractive acquisitions for the Big 10, PAC 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference. Around the Hawkeye State, there was speculation that ISU might land in the Big 10, but it made no sense on paper. The University of Iowa already owns the conference market share here, making the addition of ISU pointless from an expansion standpoint – there are really no eyeballs (or advertising dollars) to gain by adding the Cyclones. Other schools faced the same plight. Though they might have expanded a conference’s territory, their market values were minimal.

Alas, the remaining eight Big 12 schools had but one option – stay together and expand the league.

It was announced earlier this month that Houston, Central Florida, Cincinnati and BYU will be joining the Big 12 to make it a dozen again. BYU is currently independent in football, while the other three schools are members of the American Athletic Conference. Though they’ll never replace the prestige and financial impact of Oklahoma and Texas, the additions are as close to a home run as the Big 12 could have hoped for.

Houston expands the conference’s market share to one of the largest metro areas in the United States. UCF has one of the largest enrollments and alumni bases in the country. Cincinnati is perennially solid in both football and basketball. BYU expands the conference’s footprint westward and also gives it the Cougars’ massive fan base. While some folks may scoff at the additions, they are extremely good gets.

Will the Big 12 generate less revenue with Texas and Oklahoma gone? Absolutely. Will remaining schools have to look at cutting some sports due to the negative financial impact? Possibly. Did any of the eight schools have a realistic shot at joining one of the other Power 5 conferences? Not likely. Was expansion the Big 12’s only shot at staving off complete irrelevancy and future dissolution? Absolutely.

The addition of Houston, Central Florida, Cincinnati and BYU is a life raft that will keep the Big 12 afloat for at least the next decade. The landscape of college football is forever changing, and the other four Power 5 conferences definitely have a leg up on the Big 12 now that Texas and Oklahoma are gone. However, the Big 12 lived to fight another day. In the end, that’s all that matters.

Easy does it during busy harvest season

Fields are aflutter across northwest Iowa as farmers swarm fields to take out that beautiful golden grain. It’s an exciting time of the year, but it’s important to remember how fast tragedy can strike.

September 19-25 is the 78th annual National Farm Safety and Health Week. Specific emphasis is placed on raising awareness about the many dangers farmers face in their day-to-day jobs, and the numbers certainly reinforce those claims. Agriculture has the highest annual death rate per 100,000 workers in the nation and surpasses all the other industries including mining, construction and manufacturing. It is typically more than five times higher than the average death rate for all industries combined and in 2019 alone, there were 573 fatalities, or an equivalent of 23.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.

In the face of such grim statistics, the Iowa Farm Safety Council has released a helpful list of tips for farmers this harvest season. The council suggests: Cautiously approaching field adjustments or repairs; taking precautions to avoid slips and falls; making smart decisions while assigning tasks to youth; using and maintaining the slow moving vehicle emblem correctly; and retrofitting tractors with rollover protective structures. It’s also important to get adequate sleep and nutrition, because maintaining a balanced diet and getting quality sleep are essential to keeping you going during harvest. They might seem like no-brainers, but utilizing these tips could go a long way as we charge into the 2021 harvest season.

Of course, farm safety is a two-way street. Drivers on rural highways and gravel roads should take extra precaution when out and about right now. Be conscious of slow-moving vehicles like tractors, combines and semis. Always give them space and slow down when approaching these vehicles, because accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. Cars and small trucks don’t match up favorably with huge farm equipment.

Use extra caution while you’re in the fields this fall and travel safely. Harvest season is an extremely busy time, and it’s easy to get distracted. Be alert, drive smart and be careful out there. But most of all, have a safe and bountiful harvest.

 
 

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