USA Today Sports

Don't Expect Any News On Big 12 Expansion

The Big 12 paid a firm out of Chicago to tell the league's front office and others what most have been saying for a long time – the model of a 12-team conference, split into divisions, playing an eight-game league schedule and a championship football game are best for the league.

Remember a few months ago when University of Oklahoma President David Boren was squawking about how the Big 12 was psychologically disadvantaged, not to mention numerically, as the Big 12 Board of Directors met and discussed the conference and the future. Remember, that the league's leaders voted to defer all comments on expansion and possibly realignment, championship games, and third-tier television rights (mainly the Longhorn Network) to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Big 12 chairman of the board of directors in Kansas State President Kirk Schulz.

But Boren just kept right on talking, later to be joined primarily on the Longhorn Network topic by an interesting patriot in Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy. One of the results, maybe the only result from the winter Big 12 get together, was that a search firm out of Chicago (Navigate Research) was secured to see what the best form and posture might be for the Big 12 to consistently get its best team(s) into the College Football Playoff.

After over 40,000 computer trials the computer told us what we knew already. The model of a 12-team conference, split into divisions, playing an eight-game regular season schedule and a single championship game worked best.

Bowlsby released those mind blowing and earth shattering details on Monday in Phoenix where the Big 12 athletic directors, head football coaches, head basketball coaches, and head women's basketball coaches are gathered for their spring meeting and the Fiesta Bowl's annual (toned down) function. The Board of Directors will meet later this summer in Los Colinas in the Dallas-area and it is expected that by then Boren will be the spokesperson for the Board of Directors as Schulz has left K-State for Washington State. He now just needs to make sure that Cougars head football coach Mike Leach will let him speak up.

The release of the consultants research and findings has the subject of expansion and realignment back on the lips of the all those involved. The campaigners of the University of Cincinnati and University of Central Florida have pushed into ready mode.

The league itself, according to the Dallas Morning News, is still in a political or voting standstill considering expansion as Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and possibly Baylor are for adding to the league while Texas, Texas Tech and TCU look to be against. Expansion moves require an 80 percent majority, so the folks that want to ad are one short to get it done.    

“This will probably persuade some people one way or the other,” said Bowlsby to the media gathered in Arizona.

Maybe, or in a league that wrote the book on not being proactive and sometimes struggling with needed change or even discussing alternatives, this will be another case of the wheels spinning in the mud and all that happens is everybody gets muddy. 

“If we do nothing, we'll fall behind the SEC and the Big Ten in terms of (revenue),” added Bowlsby. “We may be every bit as competitive as we are today, but we'll fall behind financially.”

What you might have is all that psychological and financial damage coming out of that lack of numerical understanding. 

The problem is to add means just that, to add. That means getting schools that just don't enhance the Big 12 numerically toward its named set-up, but also schools that enhance the value, television footprint, prestige, and tradition of the Big 12. Do Cincinnati and Central Florida do? I don't think so.

I'm not sure fishing in the non-Power Five leagues gets you a trophy catch. I hate to start this all over again but Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and Miami are my ACC targets and two old friends, Arkansas and Missouri, are my SEC choices. Go get those and you have something to write home about. I don't need research to tell me what a big-time school looks like. Just like I didn't need research to tell me a 12-team league with a championship game kind of makes sense for a league that calls itself the Big 12.


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