Monday, October 17, 2016

Big 12 presidents pass on expansion

Oklahoma President David Boren, left, and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby laugh during a news conference after The Big 12 Conference meeting in Grapevine, Texas, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Oklahoma President David Boren, left, and Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby laugh during a news conference after The Big 12 Conference meeting in Grapevine, Texas, Monday, Oct. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


Grapevine, Texas (ap) — The smallest Power Five conference is not getting any larger. The Big 12 is staying at 10 schools.

After three months of analyzing, vetting and interviewing possible new members, Big 12 leaders on Monday took expansion off their agenda.

“This was not a decision to not expand,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “This was an endorsement and reinvestment in the 10 that we had.”

Oklahoma President David Boren said the decision was unanimous and no specific schools were discussed or voted on during five hours or so of expansion talk while Big 12 presidents and chancellors met Sunday night and Monday.

On Monday, University of Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little weighed in on the conference’s decision.

“As we have said all along, the priority for the University of Kansas and our athletics program is a strong and competitive Big 12 Conference,” she said in a statement. “The board’s unanimous decision today goes a long way toward ensuring the long-term stability and strength of the conference and its member institutions.”

Boren, the chairman of the Big 12 board of directors and the only president who has been in the league since its inception in 1996, insisted he has never seen “such a unified sense of purpose on the board.”

Texas President Greg Fenves said 10 is the right number for the league.

“It promotes a competitive balance and allows for a round-robin schedule in the different sports, which is best for our student-athletes,” Fenves said. “This is the right way to ensure a strong conference moving forward.”

Conference officials held interviews in September with Air Force and Colorado State from the Mountain West; Central Florida, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, South Florida, SMU and Tulane from the American Athletic Conference; and BYU, which is a football independent with its other sports in the West Coast Conference.

Houston AD Hunter Yurachek said the Big 12’s decision “is not just about the University of Houston and the Big 12 Conference, it’s about the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics. It does not, and will not, deter our mission of building champions for life.”

UConn President Susan Herbst said going through the process was a positive experience and it gave her a better understanding of where UConn stands and what it has to offer.

“Most of the schools they were talking to were in our conference,” she said. “I think that shows, without question, that our conference plays at their level and are athletically and academically appropriate to be a Power Five.”

Boren once called the Big 12 “psychologically disadvantaged” as the smallest Power Five league and the only one without a football championship game.

“The circumstances have radically changed,” Boren explained Monday when asked about the comment he first made in June 2015.

Boren said his interest in expansion was tied to his desire for the Big 12 to start a television network like the ones the Big Ten, Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 have and the one the Atlantic Coast Conference is on target to start with ESPN in 2019. Once it was determined that the market was not there for a network, his interest in expansion cooled.

And the Big 12 announced earlier this year it was bringing back its football championship game in 2017, no matter its composition.

Knowing now there will be 10 teams, Big 12 athletic directors can move forward with the process of determining if the league will split into divisions and how to determine which teams will play in the championship game.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, part of a subcommittee addressing those issues, said that decision could be made by November. As for the site of the title game, he said the league got bids from four potential hosts.

While never committing to expansion, the Big 12 has been tossing around the idea for almost two years as it tries to find ways to increase revenue and improve the conference’s chances to make the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 was left out of the first playoff in 2014, but conference champion Oklahoma made it last season.

Boren and Bowlsby both said that expansion could be re-addressed in the future, but said it no longer is an active agenda item.

In June, the conference announced record payouts to members of $30 million each, and expansion talk seemed to fade.

A month later, at their last board meeting, school presidents were briefed by consultants who explained how the conference could bolster its playoff chances by adding schools and boost revenue.

Two new members would have meant an extra $50 million in TV revenue per year for the Big 12 on contracts with ESPN and Fox that run through 2025.

The networks have not been keen on the idea of paying the Big 12 to add schools. When asked if the league would be getting more money from ESPN and FOX for not expanding, Bowlsby wouldn’t get into specifics about negotiations.

“We have a new piece of inventory with our championship game, so we’re in the process of discussions with both FOX and ESPN on that,” Bowlsby said. “There are components of the contract that we also talk about in the context of those changes, and we’re going to continue to talk about those.”


Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

I'm really hoping the Big 12 Presidents have a lot of highly confidential data and information that is not available to anyone else. Otherwise it would be far to easy to view those people as a bunch of bumbling idiots, reinforcing my already very low opinion of the brainpower for those in academia. The Big 12 office should have a 'market research' and/or 'business development' team already in place to be researching options (technologies, expansion, network relations...). For them to make the very public announcement, interviews, and conclude with today's press conference is far to amateurish. People would get fired in the real world, except in government, for that kind of performance.

Joe Ross 1 year, 11 months ago

Tell us how you really feel though! lol ;)

Henry Joseph Hofmeister 1 year, 11 months ago

Perhaps when brownback is gone kansas will have enough money to bring back WSU football and make it a viable option. IF, and a big if, they can keep up a basketball team, football is huge down there and no university to play at. The spanish speaking coaches there bring in texas and oklahoma like mad to play and dominate.

Robert Brock 1 year, 11 months ago

The conference's presidents made the right decision. It was about money. None of the candidates made a difference.

The GoR runs out in about seven years - expect some big changes as we get close to that event. KU is not ready...

Terry N Tom Denner 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope everyone took notice that Bowlsby just threw the BIG 12 under the bus. KU like KST will be either Big 10 team or ACC team in the next 1 to 2 of years. I hate the report that talk about Texas, Texas Tech, KST, and KU ending up going the the Pac12 together. Texas can leave now for all I care and take OU with them. OU and Okla St. will head to the SEC, WV & TCU to the ACC, Baylor ?, & last but not least ISU to the Mountain West. Say good bye to the BIG 12 people. Wish KU would of sported to the ACC when they were asked during the last melt down. Tom

John Joseph Gorski 1 year, 11 months ago

KU and ISU will likely be BIG bound. ISU is a step up on a Snyderless KSU both in sports and location. ISU has Iowa as its rival while KSU has no ties to the BIG. KU had a few teams in the B1G promoting them a few years back when realignment was being tossed around. Texas, OU, OSU, and Houston/TCU would go to the SEC due to geographic area and rivals like Arkansas and Texas A&M. Any four of TTech, Baylor, BYU, TCU and KSU could head to the Pac 12 while WVU would go ACC.

Jay Scott 1 year, 11 months ago

Iowa would have something to say about ISU. What do they bring? In what sport are they elite? None.

Their only real chip is that they're AAU. They offer no real market and no pedigree.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

ISU has a good loyal fan base. Although their football team has been only marginally better the KU's, their per game attendance blows us away. I also admire how the ISU fans all turn out in KC for the Big 12 Post Season Basketball Tournament. If Kansas went to the Big 10, I'd welcome ISU.

Today I'm hearing U of Houston is high on the list for Big 10 expansion. They would fit well into their 'western division' as travel to Houston from the mid-west is easy and economical, relatively speaking.

Benz Junque 1 year, 11 months ago

ISU will be Big 10 bound only if the Big 10 fails to land any of the bigger fish (Texas, OU, pretty much everyone else in the Big12 but KSU).

Jay Scott 1 year, 11 months ago

All projections of K State in a major conference if/when the Big12 dies are dubious.

Right now there are 55 teams in the PAC, B1G, ACC and SEC, including ND. In the supposed 64 team world that leaves 9 spots.

Texas and OU are givens. OK State, WVU and KU are likely next. Then who?

BYU, Houston, Cincy, UConn,UNLV, SDSU, Temple, all offer more in various ways than the rest of the existing Big12 members.

Baylor, TTU, KSU, ISU and TCU should all be concerned.

Should Miss State, WSU, OR St, Purdue, Wake, BC be worried? One would think not but who knows?

LJ Gee 1 year, 11 months ago

Is there any doubt that Boren is an idiot? First he claims that having 10 teams and no conf champ game would give the Big 12 an advantage. Then, when it very clearly didnt, he said the conference was 'psychologically disadvantaged' due to size. Now, he claims that there have been significant changes and being small is once again the best way to ensure the long term stability of the conference. Its obvious he has no idea what he's doing and is just constantly reacting in stead of being forward thinking.

The big 12 is like the last print newspaper adamantly claiming this whole twitter thing is just a phase. The conference is dying a slow death and has been for a few years. The sad thing is that none of the schools that were being evaluated this time around could have saved the conference. Everyone should have been fired the day the ACC announced their television deal b/c that was the death nail in the coffin of this conference. At this point, they're just trying to make as much money as possible while the ship sinks.

Here is my prediction of the future of this conference - OU, OSU UT and yes, UH will end up in the PAC. It would have easily been TTU but the last 5 years have shown how fragile that program is and outside of geography, they have nothing to offer. Also, UT has said they want UH as a local partner. I do think KU will end up in the Big 10 but unless state legislators force KU to bring KSU, they wont get in due to academics. ISU, KSU, TTU and Baylor will all end up being mid majors. WVU might find a spot in the ACC and TCU might find a spot somewhere just due to booster support and the city of Dallas.

I give the big 12 5 years tops. UT wont wait for TV contracts to expire and neither with the Pac. KU better start being proactive though. If there is one lesson to be learned from all of this its that true leadership is proactive not reactive

Jay Scott 1 year, 11 months ago

Is there any doubt that Boren is forced to play the hand that the Big12 schools deal him?

Anyone who thinks that the conflicting comments that Boren makes are his own thoughts and not simply the best spin on the current consensus or lack thereof is the real idiot.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 11 months ago

LJ, good analysis. I believe that Boren may have a ticket on the senile train, or he's bi-polar. Either way, it's actually painful to have to listen to him speak.

I think that everyone in that room came to the same conclusion: the conference is dead in five years. With that as a given, I think the schools decided it would not be wise to anger the golden goose that is writing the $30-million check, and I think that they decided - why bother with the mess of adding teams when we'll all be parting ways anyway? There might have even been an act of integrity in all this - yeah, I know - that's a long-shot.

The addition of the championship game will bring in some extra money and I'm sure the TV partners sweetened the deal in some meaningful way.

The question now is this: who will the new Chancellor be and how will he/she have us positioned for the transition into some sort of new conference? I actually think that both the Pac and the BIG would take us based on basketball. But it would certainly be helpful if David Beaty could pick a starting quarterback before the GOR expires.

Jay Scott 1 year, 11 months ago

Two thoughts Brett

1) Boren takes what the 10 schools give him and spins it. If you think you could lead those disparate voices and agendas to a consensus, you should apply.

2) QB's don't win games, teams do. Aaron Rodgers wouldn't make KU a winner.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

I would take that hypothetical bet abut Aaron Rodgers as the KU QB in a heart beat. The abilities (reading defenses, throwing accuracy, IQ, experiences....) of a top notch NFL QB would make a team like Kansas a contender immediately. An even better choice would be a guy like Cam Newtown, before the recent concussion run, who can run as well as pass with the best.

Suzi Marshall 1 year, 11 months ago

If you put Archie in his prime on the current KU team...we'd make a bowl for sure. Think about it a minute...we certainly would have been 3-0 heading into conference play....beaten TCU and maybe even TTU. ISU would be toast in waiting.

LJ Gee 1 year, 11 months ago

yeah I agree. The writing is on the wall and the exercise is to make as much money as possible in the interim. We can obviously ignore jay b/c trolls dont deserve any actual consideration. I think its pretty clear Boren was leading things (since he is of course the leader) when reports come out today that there were in fact up to 5 schools in favor of expansion but a memo came from the league offices instructing everyone to say it was unanimous. Its clear this was not unanimous. Anyone who doesnt understand the true power structure within the league offices is an idiot cough jay cough. UT and OU have ALL the power and the other schools just follow suit. It seems clear UT and OU were just using this as a negotiating tactic to get more money from ESPN and Fox. From that standpoint, it was very successful. Unfortunately, for the third time in as many years, Boren has made the conference look like a laughing stock.

Here's the link to the article I was talking about, btw:

Michael Lorraine 1 year, 11 months ago

Since 1970 the Big 12 has won 11 national titles in football compared to 3 for the Big 10. Seems ironic that our conference is the one to likely become extinct.

John Joseph Gorski 1 year, 11 months ago

How many of those were won while the team was a member of the Big 12?

LJ Gee 1 year, 11 months ago

I think you perfectly summed up just how terrible the leadership in this conference has been. Its tragic the way this conference has become completely overshadowed by every other power conference. Honestly, outside of the midwest, Big 12 football is not relevant and thats just sad

Tony Bandle 1 year, 11 months ago

Well, if all of you and the predictors are correct, at least that will give KU the untouchable record of 17 Conference Titles in a row!!

What we need is some KU billionaires to call Les Miles, offer him a guaranteed 10 million dollar a year contract for 5 years and actually win some football games...even ones on the road!!

KU, Michigan State,Ohio State, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, etc sounds like a hell of a basketball league to me!!

Michael Maris 1 year, 11 months ago


Les Miles can't win with his own prime LSU recruits these days. Coach Miles wasn't able to change with the current college football trends (like Nick Saban has done at Alabama).

So, what makes you think that Les Miles can win with the recruits that Kansas Jayhawks currently able to recruit?

Maybe, college football becomes extinct in the next decade or two. And, all of this expansion business will be for naught.

Lloyd Kinnison 1 year, 11 months ago

No Les Miles! Check how he left OSU in the dark of the night!! I will stay with what we have.

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 11 months ago

This is OK folks. And don't think for one minute OU and Texas are going to leave us homeless. First, the league will survive without them. Second, why would they join the sec when they have us as an automatic w?

And everything said in the article stands to reason. Ten is a good number. Round Robin is a better structure. It's a fact. Now we have a playoff...only more money. Life is good.

If OU and Texas leave then we can look afresh at a number of others. Until then just not necessary.

Terry N Tom Denner 1 year, 11 months ago

Laugh it David Boren of OU. You know damn well that this will be the death of the Big 12 or the Big Texas Plus-9. In fact I'm hoping for another meltdown. I hope it happens Spring of 2017. Tom

Maria Ungaro 1 year, 11 months ago

The Big 12 is a joke, What a complete waste of time and completely embarrassed themselves on a national stage.

The beginning of the end to the big 12. This conference has done well but unfortunately did not see the big picture of college football.

I've said this many times that KU is best built for the Big 10. So, hopefully with a new school president they can be proactively seeking admission to the Big 10. I do think Iowa St would be next by default and location.

Kansas would be bowl eligible if they would play Purde, Illinois, Indiana, NW, Rutgers, & Maryland. Toss up with Nebraska & Penn St.

The quicker we get out of here the better for this program. Bill Self would love this conference as well.

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