Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy told Tulsa World sports columnist Guerin Emig, "I don't understand (Big 12) expansion right now. I don't know what we're doing. I think right now we're pretty much clueless."
Gundy's remarks came on the eve of a report from ESPN college sports reporter and Oklahoma State graduate Brett McMurphy that the Big 12 is going to video conference with some 17 candidate schools that have reached out and shown interest in being invited to join the Big 12. The schools range from favorites such as BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, and Memphis to relative long shots such as New Mexico and San Diego State.
Others include Central Florida, South Florida, UConn, Temple, East Carolina, Colorado State, Boise State, SMU, and Tulane. The other two schools are a mystery, but there is still the rumor out there that a pair of schools in the Pac-12 would like to discuss the option. Now, that would be a major coup for the Big 12.
McMurphy's story also suggests that the Big 12 in doing its due diligence will not be able to make a proposed deadline of prior to the opening kickoff of the football season. But more reasonably will have the issue of adding four or more likely two schools, or none at all, ready to vote on with the Board of Directors (Big 12 presidents and chancellors) by the regularly schedule October board meeting.
Gundy said he saw the quote from former Houston head coach and now Kansas State offensive coordinator Dana Dimel on how Houston, as a member of the Big 12, would be tough to beat in recruiting because of their proximity to the Houston and South Texas talent. Dimel added in his comments to the Wichita Eagle that, "I can't believe anybody would want Houston (in the Big 12)."
Like everything in the history of this league, this issue of expansion is about politics and longevity along with systemic failure. What needs to be known is if Texas really favors allowing Houston into the league? Does Texas see an avenue to a UT satellite campus in Houston by helping UH or are they smoke screening and counting on the other schools in the league to keep Houston from getting in. What Texas wants is important here. The other expansion pick, if there are only two, would likely be an OU preference.
If you are wondering why the league would bow to OU and Texas, check Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and some of the other schools looking for this conference to have a longer solidified and secure future. Iowa State suggested tying its vote in expansion to either a longer television agreement or an extended grant of rights by all schools, primarily OU and Texas, to further secure a future for the Big 12.
It all comes down to politics and preservation, or it could end in departure and demolition for the conference.
Personally, Gundy would like to see his school consult him and the other Big 12 schools consult their football coaches, who are fighting the battles on the front lines in the fall and on the road recruiting the rest of the year, when NCAA rules allow.
Gundy likes the league with the 10 existing schools. He can like it, but he may not have much longer to like it. Honestly, I'm not sure it matters because as much as the TV networks don't want to pony up the extra money if the Big 12 expands, I don't see OU and Texas getting out their Sharpies to sign an extended grant of rights.
The Big 12 is right at home, confused and uncertain.