NEW ORLEANS – Both the NYSE and NASDAQ received boosts yesterday as unexpected news ushered in a close to the day’s trading: after mistaking the Sun Belt Conference for a telecommunications company, industry giants AT&T and AOL-Time Warner followed up their error by merging with the SBC in a $1.8 trillion dollar deal, the largest in history.
Above: two teams that are probably in the Sun Belt Conference.
“We are extraordinarily excited at the possibilities of this new partnership,” SBC commissioner Wright Waters said from his Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits-based office on Canal Street.
“The universities and programs representing the SBC are institutions of excellence. Though we have little traditional history in telecommunications or mass media, we have always excelled at meeting challenges and exceeding expectations. We expect the best of ourselves, and we now have $1.8 trillion reasons to believe our expectations.”
Waters continued: “This is awesome. So awesome. Yes.”
This deal is the first merger between multi-billion dollar corporations and a college football mid-major conference, with far reaching ramifications for both the telecommunications industry and the Bowl Championship Series. Though most experts were hesitant to predict any quarterly or fiscal year fluctuations resulting from the enormous merger, the mood was one of cautious confusion.
According to Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox the federal regulatory community is looking into the merger with the curiosity of motorists passing “dead bodies everywhere on an off ramp.”
“Holy shit. Holy fucking shit. Did you see that?” Cox offered as further explanation for his agency’s proposed “gawking” action, a period of internal investigation into “what the fuck just happened over there” traditionally lasting six to ten weeks.
Another SEC – the Southeastern Conference – was also left gawking after news of the merger reached the college football world. As one of the most prestigious and toughest athletic conferences in the nation the SEC has long acted as a big brother figure to many of the smaller football playing schools located in the south, particularly in the southeast region of America which considers Saturday afternoon games both a birthright and a religion.
“It was a mentoring partnership, a nurturing and guiding role,” former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer said of the relationship between the BCS conference and the lesser known universities south of the Mason-Dixon line.
“We protected them and helped them grow by inviting them into our homes where we destroyed them for annual paychecks. Everyone benefited: we got a win, they got money, and television got Auburn versus Western Kentucky. Some people didn’t like it, but there’s always the few. In the Renaissance they needed patrons. What would Florence have been without the Medici family? Without their money? Because of us Arkansas State has flowered into whatever it’s flowered into. We’re the Popes of the sixteenth century, and Middle Tennessee is our Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo needed patronage to give us David. We are that patronage.”
Kramer paused, then corrected himself: “We were that patronage.”
Now that the SBC has at its disposal nearly two trillion dollars worth of assets – not to mention the multi-media arms of AOL-Time Warner and its publishing, movie, television and other original content archives, plus the indomitable will of the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette – the once looked over conference doesn’t need the money that an away game in, say, Knoxville represents. Florida International will now be able to engage opponents in brawls within the comfortable enclosures of FIU stadium, a full twelve miles away from such hostile environments as the Orange Bowl. The so far unstated fear of Kramer and the SEC is that the balance of power has shifted.
Experts point to SBC schools’ ability to now text message an unlimited amount of times thanks to AT&T’s employee cellular plans, which also include extended anytime minute benefits that will give coaches the ability to call recruits almost twice as much as an SEC school. Roaming charges are a thing of the past for the staff of North Texas.
Said one Mean Green assistant coach who did not wish to be named: “I’m callin’ [California running back and likely high school All-American] Darrell Scott right now. At three in the afternoon. Outside of my zone. [USC head coach] Pete Carroll is gonna be shittin’ bricks, and [Texas head coach] Mack Brown’ll eat ‘em.”
One BCS school official who also required anonmity had this to say: “The Sun Belt Coalition [sic] can do whatever it wants now. Who cares if they don’t get a BCS invite? We get one every year despite clear indications we shouldn’t, so nothing sacred is being broken or anything. They can build their own bowl game with a $50 million payout and call it the ‘Turd Bowl’ and we’d probably crawl to their door. I just hope our NBC contract doesn’t fall through now.”
Over and over again the primary concern of other college football coaches and administrations was money: how much more the SBC now has, and how much behind everyone else now is – but they are not alone in their consideration of money. After his discovery that the SBC was in fact a mid-major college football conference stretching from Florida to Texas, AT&T Chief Financial Officer Richard Lindner expressed some doubts about the merger.
“While we certainly respect [the SBC], I have to wonder if their… $3.12 million dollar… contribution. Contribution? Contribution to our $1.8 trillion enterprise. I have to wonder if that’s… commensurate,” Lindner said.
Lindner would not speculate on a renunciation of the merger, citing confidentiality agreements.
An ecstatic Waters was not so tight lipped: “We have the best lawyers local television can advertise. Johnson vs. the state of Missourri, 1992. Precedence. They signed a non-Indian giving clause. Fine print, baby. Who wants some Cristal?”