Big 12 Expansion And Outside Confusion

I noticed this week in the aftermath of the declaration from University of Oklahoma President David Boren that the Big 12 Conference needs to expand to get back to 12 teams that there is confusion with some media, primarily in the state of Utah, as to what is included in the Big 12's television contracts, which run through the 2024-25 school year, with 2024 the final football season in the deal.

Before I get into some of the confusion, I do agree with Boren that the Big 12 needs to be proactive in thinking about the future and increasing membership. I will get into that in just a bit.

First, where do media members get off calling folks in the Big 12 including conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby liars about the terms of the contract? I saw a report where the reporter said the Big 12 had said the contract terms were rigid and did not allow for more compensation for the league if it expanded membership. They needed to pay more attention or maybe care more, I don't know which.

The accusation was so convincing that I had to check with a conference administrator to make sure I wasn't wrong. I had always had the impression that the primary TV partners of ABC/ESPN and Fox and Fox Sports Net would increase the compensation if the league added valuable new members. The key being valuable members.

The Big 12 right now doesn't see the need to increase it's number, and I agree. The league is healthy, and its members are getting rich.

Because I am a firm believer that we are moving at the top level to four 16-school super conferences I believe that some league is going to be eliminated. I think the Southeastern Conference is strong and solid, and the Big 10 is so solid both in sports and academics.

Now understand that football is the guiding light. You must be strong in football because that counts the most in TV negotiations, and all around clout. The Pac-12 based on geography is in a very good position. That leaves the Big 12 and the ACC likely to Duke it out for survival.

That's where Boren is right. The Big 12 must have a plan, begin executing it long before, and fight as hard as you can fight because survival of the conference is at stake. Texas and Oklahoma are foundations for the league. Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU have built their programs into strong pillars for a conference. Texas Tech is not far behind those other four. West Virginia adds its tradition and strong love of football in a football crazy area. Iowa State has done the building and has the fan support, but lack of TV sets and tradition puts them in a precarious situation and Kansas is the basketball school that brings great basketball but little right now in the way of attractive football.

The ACC is a traditional basketball league, which puts it in the boat with the Big 12 where they could be fighting for the last life preserver. You hate to promote upheaval and battles for schools, but I remember the last two rounds of conference realignment and it was no fun watching Nebraska march to the Big 10 and Missouri and Texas A&M bolt for the SEC. Notice I didn't mention Colorado. Again, I hate to be brutally honest but the shape of their program for a prolonged period means they have not been missed.

I have my dream league and it consists of the current Big 12 membership with Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and one other school added. That actually gets the league to 14. Now as for 16 some day, I really dream big and I'd like to get Missouri and Arkansas. I told you I was dreaming. None of that really matters but it does matter that the Big 12 readies itself and doesn't get caught flat-footed ever again because the next time it happens it could mean the end of the conference.


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