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Hope Houston isn't holding its breath

6/18/2010

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe made his feelings about any future Big 12 expansion clear on Tuesday. You might even call them "unequivocal."

"We're not looking to expand at all," he said. "And certainly we wouldn't look to expand with any institutions that are in our geographic, five-state area now. We're very comfortable with where we are and there's no interest in having an expansion review at this point, and I don't think it's going to come in the future."

Perhaps he should have said it louder. Two dozen Houston lawmakers sent the Big 12 a letter petitioning the conference to invite the University of Houston.

"Despite UH's local and statewide prominence, the university does not belong to a strong BCS conference such as the Big 12. The Cougars, the city of Houston, and the state of Texas deserve better," it reads.

You can read the full letter on the Houston Chronicle's website.

If we're talking on-field product, there's not going to be any arguments coming from my direction. I suspect that's also the case in Lubbock and Stillwater, whose teams suffered losses to Houston in 2009. Baylor coach Art Briles also came to Waco via Houston. Houston saw its share of big-time football as members of the Southwest Conference up until 1995, when it became a member of Conference USA after the formation of the Big 12.

But if we've learned nothing throughout this realignment saga, it's that the on-field product is far from the most important consideration.

If it was, TCU might already be a member. But neither the Horned Frogs nor Houston, with its 32,000-seat stadium, should count on ever becoming a member.

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder estimated that a new member would have to bring with it $15 million in value. It's not Houston's fault its probably the second-most popular team in Houston. If the Big 12 South had left for the Pac-10, both TCU and Houston might have ended up in a new Big 12.

That didn't happen, to the detriment of Houston's future in a BCS conference.

"I don't quit," State Rep. Garnet Coleman told the Houston Chronicle. "I don't start something I'm not going to finish. If I didn't think this was a worthy endeavor, I wouldn't have started it. This is the beginning of this effort, not the end."

(On a final note, any discussion of Arkansas in the Big 12 is wasted breath. The only possible scenario in which the Hogs might leave is if someone can convince Jerry Jones or some other crazed moneymaker to guarantee the Hogs make the same amount of cash as the SEC, no matter how much more it makes than the Big 12. Arkansas just cashed a $17.3 million check, and that number will continue to grow. Also, though everyone's currently holding hands, there are stabler leagues than the Big 12. For starters, the SEC. So you'd probably also have to guarantee that if the Big 12 loses another member or breaks up, Arkansas gets automatic entry back into the SEC. So, if you guys know anyone who can set all that up, let me know and we can start talking about the Hogs rejoining their Texan rivals.)