Big 12 conference meetings happen every year around this time, but there is definitely a sense of something different in the air this time around.
The three-day session will hit the ground running Wednesday and here are some of the biggest topics up for discussion.
Will Baker Mayfield be given back his year of eligibility?
Most of the items this week will focus on the long term, but the one that will affect OU the most in the short term has everything to do with quarterback Baker Mayfield and whether or not he will get back that lost year of eligibility.
Proposed by OU, this rule needs the majority of the Faculty Athletic Representatives to vote in favor of the proposal Wednesday. Not a unanimous vote, but a majority of at least six votes to give Mayfield the possibility of one more year in Norman after this season.
The rule would waive the automatic forfeiture of a year of eligibility for non-recruited walk-ons that transfer within the conference.
It would go into effect for all walk-ons going forward, but obviously Mayfield is the poster boy for the rule as of right now.
If it doesn’t, things could get dicey in a hurry. Mayfield only has one year of athletic eligibility right now but could be a graduate transfer at another conference for the 2017 season. That would undoubtedly be another sour situation for the Big 12.
This measure didn’t pass last year, but OU sources are very confident this year will see the change necessary and Mayfield will at least have the option.
Updates with expansion and conference network?
It’s the ol’ chicken and the egg conversation. What comes first for the Big 12? Expansion in its membership or creating a unified Big 12 Network?
Can one happen without the other? Once again, don’t go into these meetings expecting any breaking news in this situation. Instead, it’s going to be more discussions about what the universities believe will be the best possible answer for the conference in the long run.
The schools proposed for possible expansion seem to be pretty clear cut even though OU president David Boren mentioned 25 programs expressing interest last month.
Houston? Cincinnati? Memphis? Central Florida? Colorado State? BYU? Connecticut? It seems unlikely any existing Power 5 schools will seek out the Big 12 so the debate will rage on whether or not any of these schools add real value to the conference.
Conference championship game?
Expansion won’t be decided, but the issue of the conference championship game could absolutely be something we get a bit more closure on this week.
When it comes to the college football playoff, we’ve heard terms like “game management” and “body clocks,” and right now for the Big 12, it’s “13th data point.”
Research (and common sense) says the 13th game is pivotal in trying to earn a berth in the four-team college football playoff.
But when you play a round-robin schedule, it still doesn’t quite compute because there would be a guaranteed rematch in the championship game.
And just for example, last year’s scenario would have really thrown everything off and is the absolute worst case scenario. OU took care of business in Stillwater vs. Bedlam rival Oklahoma State and then would have been asked to beat the Cowboys once again the following week.
It’s not ideal, doesn’t sound fair, so intriguing to see what the end result of these discussions will be.
Fate of Baylor?
It was reported by Horns Digest’s Chip Brown last week that former Baylor president Ken Starr will not be in attendance to represent the Bears.
That was even before everything that has gone down in Waco. Former football coach Art Briles is gone, replaced by Jim Grobe, who has no real connection to Baylor so it's a chance for a much-necessary fresh start. Athletic director Ian McCaw resigned Monday afternoon.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said last week at the conference baseball tournament that he didn’t feel it was his spot to interject. His viewpoint was to let Baylor handle Baylor and react after the dust has settled.
No, Baylor won’t be kicked out of the conference or anything extreme like that. But what will be worth noting is the dialogue that takes place to guarantee nothing like what occurred with the Bears won’t ever happen again in the Big 12.