Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe wants some definitive answers, and he wants them by April 2011. I don't blame him.
Beebe on Tuesday said he wants Big 12 teams to commit to the league -- or get out -- before the league starts negotiating a new TV contract with Fox Sports Net. The Big 12's contract with ESPN/ABC runs through the 2015-16 season, but Beebe understandably wants to know what the league looks like before meeting with the Fox brass next April.
Will Beebe's deadline impact the Big Ten, which might end up courting some Big 12 teams? Probably not.
Although the Big Ten's expansion study isn't moving as quickly as everyone would like it to, we should have some answers during the fall or the early winter. The league in December set out a 12- to 18-month timetable for the study, and though April 2011 falls in the middle of that window, things likely will be decided before.
As I wrote last month, the Big Ten isn't operating on anyone else's timetable but its own. The league also wants to avoid mistakes made in past expansions, and minimize the damage on the back end. There's more than enough time to figure things out before the Big 12 begins its negotiations with Fox. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said that when the Big Ten decides to begin formal discussions with potential new members, the process will be fast.
Colleague David Ubben writes:
What doesn't make sense is forcing Nebraska or Missouri to definitively commit to the Big 12 without fully knowing the Big Ten's intentions. Beebe's deadline gives the Big Ten plenty of time to make up its mind, even if it's two months short of the tail end of the Big Ten's timetable. To get his wish, Beebe still needs Delany to cooperate, and it's possible Beebe's April aim won't make more than a blip on the Big Ten's radar. ...
Will they be invited to apply? What percent of the Big Ten's television revenue will they receive immediately? How long until it's a full share? If Nebraska or Missouri can't answer those questions -- and the countless others -- the Big Ten would be doing a disservice to two possible future members. Helping them do it by April would be the best option for all concerned parties, both conferences and both schools.
Delany wants to be thorough with this process, but when the time comes to act -- and sources say it likely will come late this fall or early this winter -- he will do so quickly.