In this week's mailbag we extensively discuss the prospects of the Big 12 bringing BYU into the league, whether the Big 12 needs a conference championship game, and West Virginia's showing so far in the league.
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To the ‘bag:
Dave in Dallas writes: If BYU could get invited to the Big 12, it would increase competition, which is good. But who would be the 12th team?
Trotter: That’s part of the problem with adding BYU. The Cougars probably bring more to the table than any non-power conference team out there outside of Notre Dame. They have a global following. They have tradition. They would expand the Big 12 footprint into new TV markets. But who would you pair BYU with? There’s just really not anyone out there that would bring more to the pie financially than they would take out. That quickly turns this into non-starter, at least for now.
Jonathan in California writes: Jake, what is with all this talk of expansion all of a sudden? BYU is definitely worthy of consideration but here I thought expansion was over, at least for a few years. I for one am against any expansion that ends round-robin scheduling. The Big 12 is unique right now that the winner is indisputable champion having played everyone. You can’t hide from another team from the other division.
Trotter: There are actually no discussions being held regarding expansion. This is all just outside chatter stemming from a quote BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall gave unprompted to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. There won’t be any expansion coming up, at least until the league has a three- or four-year window evaluate how its format fits into playoff model.
John Robert in Houston writes: I still think BYU has a lot to offer our conference. But now that we are wealthy and strong, I think it is time for BYU to make some major concessions if they are serious about staying relevant. If they did, do you think they would receive an invitation? Would the Big 12 blog recommend they receive one?
Trotter: No and no. I get why everyone wants to get back to 12. But financially, logistically and geographically it just doesn’t make sense. The Big 12 is justifiably pleased with its current distribution revenue. If the Big 12 added BYU, they’d have to add another team (again, who would that be?). And good luck shuttling student athletes from Morgantown to Lubbock to Provo, Utah, on any kind of semi-regular basis.
Josh in Wichita, Kan., writes: Do the ADs have unilateral control with regards to adding new schools, or do they take any input from other school officials? Alumni? The league? BYU seems like it would be a huge get, but I understand that they like the money they are getting right now.
Trotter: Nope. The ADs have input, but ultimately the conference realignment buck stops with the presidents. So if the league ever decided to move forward with expansion, there would have to be a bunch of people that would have to get on board with it. And right now, virtually nobody is board with it.
Chris in Provo, Utah, writes: What are your thoughts on the Big 12 getting a championship game with only 10 members?
Trotter: It could certainly be something the Big 12 entertains and pursues if the league finds that not having a conference title game is hurting its chances of putting a team into the playoff.
Mark in Snyderville, USA, writes: I keep seeing people clamor for Big 12 expansion and bringing back the conference championship game. But I'm looking at your Big 12 playoff article and I'm realizing that without the title game K-State plays for the national title in '98, Mizzou plays for it in '07. I have never seen any evidence that the conference championship game has actually ever helped a Big 12 team.
Trotter: You make a very good point. In chatting with West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, he doesn’t think the omission of a championship game will harm the Big 12 in the playoff era. And he believes the round robin format will be preferred in the playoff era to the cross-division scheduling gaps that could affect other conferences. Sure, there’s money to be made in a conference championship game. But it took more Big 12 teams out of the national title game than it helped put in there.
Mathew in Wheeling, W. Va., writes: Jake, you have said that West Virginia can't handle the big boys of college football. Granted, it has been rough since October of 2012, but Georgia, Clemson, and Oklahoma aren't big boys? Any program that goes 89-38 since 2004 has to be doing something right!
Trotter: It's always illuminating as a journalist to be misquoted. You’re referring to my Big 12 squads as World Cup teams post, which drew similarities between West Virginia and the Ivory Coast. I never suggested that West Virginia couldn’t compete against the big boys. What I wrote was that West Virginia has struggled to compete in its first two years in a big-boy conference, which no one -- even you -- can really argue.