Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Big 12 ADs weigh their expansion options
By David Ubben
Well, if nothing else, the Big 12 at least figured out this whole "one voice" thing. The league's athletic directors met on Monday to discuss the league's future, but all anybody wanted to talk about was the big "E" word.
The good news for the Big 12? One man, and one man alone talked about that "E" word -- expansion -- on Monday. He didn't have much to say, but it's better than the mixed messages in the past that leaked out of Big 12 meetings and painted a picture of a dysfunctional conference with no clear leadership.
"I think we did gravitate around some principles that will guide us going forward and I think we created some filters that we all agreed on," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told reporters after the first half of the two-day meeting. "I think there was a fair amount of unanimity in the room."
It's no secret that the Big 12 is mostly happy with 10 members, though there are some around the league who disagree. What anyone would agree on? If they don't bring enough cash, they don't warrant inclusion. The list of teams that can do that seems to be a short one.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says the current setup is financially beneficial for each school, but he wanted to run through "what-if" scenarios.
Forbes Magazine reported earlier this month that the Big 12 earned $26.2 million in revenue per team over the past year, the highest per-team average among all conferences.
There's plenty of talk this week about a possible alliance with the ACC, but it won't get anywhere near the attention of the possibility of an ACC member joining the Big 12 for good.
The league's ADs are scheduled to focus on less sexy issues -- football scheduling anyone? -- on Day 2 of the meetings, but it doesn't sound like much groundwork was laid for the Big 12 to invite any members anytime soon.
Weighing options at this juncture is a good move for the league and fends off some of the (silly, if you ask me) perception that the league was passive and reactive to the changing college landscape, rather than proactive while other conferences poached four members.
Still, unless that landscape changes soon and one of those "what-ifs" becomes a reality, I'd expect the Big 12 to remain a 10-team configuration.