I know what some of our subscribers think and what some of the listeners on Triple Play Sports and Sports Talk with Robert Allen and Friends think. They think the Big 12 is on its way out, that the league is weak and Oklahoma and Texas are looking for the first chance to escape the Iowa States, Texas Techs, and Kansas States of the world for a new mega super conference in the SEC or the Big 10.
I'm going to take the Big 12 Presidents at their word, or at least the word of the chairman of the Board of Directors in University of Oklahoma President David Boren at this afternoon's press conference.
"No one's looking to walk away from this conference," Boren said at one point while adding often that he felt the most camraderie and Kumbaya feelings that he had ever felt in all his years of being in the Big 12 and he's been there longer than anyone. "Any feelings to the contrary is just mistaken. They don't understand the strong commitment that we all have to it. As you know, I've been on this board since day one. I think I'm the only remaining president on this board that's been here since day one when the Big 12 Conference was formed."
This is true as Boren and longtime Texas President William Powers were the founding presidents joining with the founding athletic directors Donnie Duncan of Oklahoma and DeLoss Dodds of Texas, neither of which are still around. Boren really is the lone remaining pioneer, so it is for that reason that I'm going to take him at his word on this one.
I have no doubt that the Big 12 was unanimous in not expanding. It didn't make any sense in the end and, by the way, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby didn't come right out and say it but he hinted with the new inventory of the Big 12 Football Championship Game the networks will significantly sweeten the TV deal for the league and they won't even have to bring in more members to split it with.
The Big 12 is safe and sound and on solid ground. Yes, read that again you Pokes fans that want the Cowboys to sneak off to the east and join the SEC West. For you really crazy fans that want to live your life on Pacific time while living in the Central time zone you can comprehend the same message. The Big 12 is safe and sound and on solid ground. That is for the next 8-9 years and that's a long time. In nine years I will be 65 years old. Probably not retired, at least not fully, but I hope to be around to see what's next. That is when we will find out.
The meeting has all of the schools solidly pledged to each other through the duration of the current television contracts. Boren said that could go further when it needs to but right now all of the grant-of-rights needed is through the current TV deals into 2024-25.
He talks a good game when it comes to sounding permanent.
"What I heard over the last 24 hours as our colleagues spoke very candidly among ourselves was the strongest expression of unity and cohesion and commitment to the conference that I've ever heard," Boren expressed, probably like he did many times as the chair of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "In my opinion, there's not a single school in this conference that is looking to go elsewhere. We are committed to each other. We're committed to the Big 12 Conference. We're committed to staying in the Big 12 Conference and making it as strong as possible.
"The grant of rights has come up in the past at a time in which we have been negotiating contracts with our media partners and otherwise," Boren continued explaining why there was no need to lengthen the grant-in-rights with nothing of a deal to tie them to. "So, in other words, it's always been in the context of a proposed deal, if you want to say it that way, proposed agreement that would lead to longer-term media contracts, with certain provisions in them. So that's when you consider grant of rights.
"As we begin to approach the end of our current term of contract, which is approximately eight years, I think undoubtedly you're going to see a whole series of discussions about what are the prospects, how will the contracts be renewed or changed. That's certainly I think the feeling that we've had at the University of Oklahoma, that when that time comes, that's when you discuss the grant of rights. You don't discuss it as an abstract matter when there's really nothing on the table."
Everybody is in, both feet, and with 10 members and a championship game on the horizon. Eight more years is a long time. All you doubters can give it a rest and if you were really rooting for the Big 12 to die, well, that isn't very nice. The Big 12, in good times and in bad, has been our heritage, our history. We've celebrated championships and enjoyed the many bowl tie-ins and Big 12 Basketball and Baseball Tournaments. Oklahoma State won more conference championships last season than any other school in the league and that is another reason to be proud.
I trust the words of David Boren would easily satisfy as those from Burns Hargis, Oklahoma State President. You see they may be from different sides of the aisle, but they are two old-fashioned politicians who likely loathe what is going on in the current Presidential race, but are in agreement with what is going on in the Big 12.
"We are committed to this conference," Boren added. "As I say, what I heard in that room, gave me a tremendous amount of optimism. There have been times over the past in the history of the Big 12 when there's not been that sense of unity in the room, real cohesion, and sincere commitment."