Thursday, February 23, 2012
Q&A: Big 12's Chuck Neinas on expansion
By David Ubben
Tuesday and Wednesday, Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas was one of 11 FBS conference commissioners (in addition to Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick) who met in Dallas to discuss the future of college football's postseason and possible changes to the BCS format.
He'll be leaving his interim post to his successor by July 1, but after the meetings concluded, he took a few minutes to speak with ESPN.com on the league's rocky recent past and possible future expansion.
David Ubben: The West Virginia situation is finally settled. How would you describe the process of the last few months, trying to watch that get settled while you handled your business and waited on West Virginia to handle its own?
Chuck Neinas: We were never in doubt that West Virginia was coming. It was only a matter of how they wish to extricate themselves from the Big East. There were a couple of paths they could have followed and they selected the one that they did, but there was never a question in our mind that West Virginia was going to be with us.
DU: Never a question they'd be in the league for 2012?
DU: What gave you so much confidence that you were going to have them for 2012?
CN: We had obviously explored it in great detail with the administration at West Virginia University and they kept giving us assurances, "We'll be there.'
DU: How would you describe the league's current attitude toward expansion in the future?
CN: Good question. I'd say that No. 1, the board of directors charged our expansion committee to continue to monitor the landscape of college athletics. We've just gone through a rather interesting year, and so we now have 10 good, solid members. We're very stable for a lot of reasons, and you can't ignore the fact that every one of the 10 signed a grant of rights, which means that the conference now has their television rights, so that puts us in a very secure position going forward.
DU: That was officially executed, correct?
CN: Oh, yes.
DU: When were the official documents actually signed?
CN: It was done. I can't remember -- I can't give you the date, but of course West Virginia was the last one to sign it over, but they're all in. So, right now, there's a feeling that 10 provides the opportunity for everybody to play each other in football and a double round-robin in basketball and that's appealing to a lot of our members. That's not to say there won't be further review of expansion, and that could well happen, but not on my watch down the road.
DU: Down the last road, you secured the first-tier money without a championship game, but that's up for renegotiation in 2014. Could you see that being a catalyst for future expansion?
CN: No -- well, it could be. But I don't think that's necessarily what would drive expansion.
DU: So, how would you describe the mood of the league as it moves forward without Missouri and Texas A&M?
CN: Positive. Very positive.