USA Today Sports

Is Big 12 Expansion Moving Forward?

Could the Big 12 be moving to adding two teams? If so, keep an eye on Cincinnati and Central Florida.

I've known Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports for a long time. We go back to young buck days on the Big Eight Skywriters Tour, covering the league, and for me primarily Oklahoma State, since the mid 1980s. Dodd came on with CBS online on Wednesday and really didn't say anything concrete or have any major quotes on the record but he said for the first time in years, he called it a vibe, he thinks the Big 12 is moving toward expansion.

The fact that Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who is conducting the proceedings that include athletic directors, senior women administrators, head football coaches, and men's and women's head basketball coaches, is saying that he isn't going to tell the league leaders what to do. But he is going to tell them to do it immediately and with conviction. 

The Oklahoma State contingent includes athletic director Mike Holder, senior women's administrator and assistant soccer coach Karen Hancock, head football coach Mike Gundy, new head basketball coach Brad Underwood, and women's head hoops coach Jim Littell.

My personal opinion is that it is hard to make your league better without going out and getting schools that are equal or even better than what you've got. We know the payouts in the SEC and the Big Ten are going to keep those schools where they are. The only outside shot would be if a school like a Nebraska liked its competitive situation better in the Big 12, or the same with Missouri, Texas A&M or even an Arkansas that left the Southwest Conference so many years ago. An about face from one of those schools would signal a bad sign nobody wants to give off and that is the competition is too tough where they are and a bad sign the Big 12 wouldn't necessarily want, and that is we're an easier league come compete against us.

It may just be a band-aid but adding a couple of schools might give the league a longer shelf life to dig deeper and correct some of the problems that cause the most emotion like third tier television and the Longhorn Network.

Dodd says he doesn't think Mormon-based BYU will be one of the schools, and I agree. He suggested Cincinnati as a travel partner for West Virginia and then Central Florida. I agree again, not with the quality of the choices but with the speculation.

Cincinnati has been campaigning and it appears they have the support of University of Oklahoma President David Boren, who will likely become the chairman replacing departed Kansas State President Kirk Schultz at the Board of Directors meetings for the Big 12 Presidents and Chancellors from May 31 to June 3.

Boren carries stroke in all this. In fact, if Big 12 expansion, playoff game, and third tier TV issues were a MMA event then you would likely see a tag team of Boren and Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy going against Texas athletic director Mike Perrin and TCU head football coach Gary Patterson. Both combos represent weird alliances, but recognized ones as all things considered go on in the Big 12.

For instance, right now with Houston's football program on its highest of horses under Tom Herman as head coach don't expect the football coaches (or anybody else) to be pushing for letting the Cougars in the Big 12 hen house.

In the end, whether it is at the Board of Directors meetings or taken up with a special meeting later this summer, remember it takes a super majority, 8 out of 10 schools to agree to allow in new members. Current battle lines show a 7-to-3 standoff with Texas, Baylor, and TCU together and primarily against expansion. OU leading the way with all others leaning toward getting back to 12. Somebody will have to blink. This has been a strange year in politics, so why not a strange year in Big 12 politics?


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