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Realignment Today: Big 12 talks lead to further commitment, desire for conference to stay together

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Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks during NCAA college football Big 12 media days Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Arlington, Texas.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks during NCAA college football Big 12 media days Wednesday, July 14, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. by AP Photo/LM Otero

Leaders of the eight remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference remain focused on staying committed to one another and the conference they have called home for more than two decades.

After two days of meetings this week with athletic directors from what the Big 12 is calling the eight “continuing members of the Big 12 Conference,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby shared the tone of the talks.

“The eight ADs remain committed to furthering the Big 12 as one of the nation’s premier athletic conferences, and look forward to working with our presidents and chancellors to strengthen the league,” Bowlsby said Wednesday night in a statement released by the Big 12. “Future exploration by the group will continue to center on options that best position the long-term strength of the conference.”

The Big 12 is in this position, of course, because of the recent decision by Oklahoma and Texas to announce their plans to leave the conference for the SEC after the grant of rights agreement expires in 2025.

Whether the two powerhouse programs remain in the conference that long remains to be seen and could depend largely on what the eight members they’re leaving behind do in the coming months and years.

Shortly after OU and UT announced their future departures, the three other power-five conferences in college athletics announced that they were forming an alliance.

Leaders of the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 held a joint press conference to announce the alliance and they said then that the Big 12 was not included in it because of the general instability the conference is currently facing.

Speculation about Big 12 expansion, and which schools (and when) the Big 12 might add in an effort to regain stability and offset some of the losses of Oklahoma and Texas, has run rampant in the past couple of weeks.

But while he did not give a specific timeline of any kind, Bowlsby’s statement on Wednesday makes it clear that nothing is imminent.

BYU above all, along with Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston, have gained the most traction in expansion talks and rumors. But at least half a dozen other schools have been floated in recent weeks as universities the Big 12 might — or even should — consider adding.

The conference’s preference for patience likely comes from the fact that OU and Texas would face stiff exit penalties for leaving the conference, therein bringing even more money to the pockets of the eight remaining members.

But while financial stability may be a reality for at least a couple more years, the future of the conference beyond that seems to be viewed as being on rocky ground throughout the rest of college athletics at the present time.

Comments

Jeff Coffman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

KU is not going to be in the 8. KU has the brand to go to the B10, ACC and the PAC.

This rebuilding the 12 will not occur with at least 3 teams likely gone already.

Jeremy Wilhm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You are greatly overestimating KU’s current value in the scope of conference realignment. This push is being driven by Football (65%), TV Market (30%), and then everything else (5%). The B1G, PAC, and ACC, if the current state of CFB doesn’t change would take these schools before they would invite KU: BYU (MUCH better at FB and comparable TV market), Houston (Much better at FB and MUCH bigger TV market), Cincinnati (Much better at FB and comparable TV market), Boise State (MUCH better at FB even with a much smaller TV market), UAB (Much better at FB and a rebuilding success story, even with a metro market half the size of KC, it’s an Alabama College Football town) Every other school remaining in the Big 12, except KSU.

If the Big 12 collapses, KU will not be in one of the remaining Power 4 conferences unless there is a HUGE difference in the football team in the next two seasons.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Surely you are a troll. If you were a true KU fan, Alum or Booster you would not be posting ridiculous drivel. KU is at the top of this new monstrosity they are proposing. The Big10 has us on our sites and has already told our AD what to do to get in. I see something here that either smack of a depressive disorder, or the hallmarks of a troll. Either way, either Pull with the rest of us, shut up or get out of the way.

Keith Gellar 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"The Big10 has us on our sites and has already told our AD what to do to get in"? Where are you seeing this? Sure i've seen this being suggested by messageboard ADs but where has someone from the BIG come out and said it?

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Action in decision-making within the Big10 is done by backchannel. I did say the Big 10 has us in their sites-we have been since 2010. We have 2 problems in their estimation that we are fixing now. Rebuilding our moribund Football Culture and remodeling our sad Stadium and revamping our other Facilities. Those are the two things that, through my poking around I have come to find out. Insiders have been saying this for 11 years. Both are being fixed.

Jeremy Wilhm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I don't know where you are getting your info, but if the B1G really wanted KU to join and has wanted to for as long as you claim, they would have done it already. I am not a troll, I'm just not delusional about KU's current place in the college sports world.

Brett McCabe 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It would seem that ISU and KU should be focused on getting into the BIG. ISU has the football, we have the KC TV market. Both schools are AAU. Easy division alignments.

Keith Gellar 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Except the BIG doesn't want ISU or KU. So why try to force ourselves into a conference where we will be step children and will be treated like dirt.

We own the Big12 now more than ever. With OU and UT gone - we become the premier program. Even if we can't recruit top talent, we will still be undefeated in the conference and clearly, our fanbase cares more about conference streaks than national achievements like titles.

Jonathan Allison 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Like it or not, being king of a conference that pays out $5 - $10MM in TV rights per year is not equal to being in a conference that pays out $30 - $40MM per year.

It may alienate a not insignificant % of the fan base to move to a premier league, but if you're responsible for the financial health of the athletics department and/or the university as a whole then the decision is pretty obvious.

Sentimentally I would prefer the BigXII to survive and KU to continue playing against their traditional peers, but considering the instability of the conference for the past decade+, it doesn't seem very wise to continue to hitch your wagon to the Big XII if the B1G, ACC, or PAC are willing to take us in (which as of now is uncertain).

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Not as uncertain as you may think. The BIG has given us a list of tasks to accomplish which at this time are being acted upon. One we have no say in, is the recovery of our Football Program. The other is the refurbishing of The Booth to make it comparative to the other Big10 Venues. Fundraising is going on now.

Joey Meyer 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Matt had said it before - Big 12 should think differently if it wants to survive.

If KU gets an ACC or Big Ten invite, take it.

Until then, be the best “everybody else” conference.

Take all the Cinderella’s and best of the outsiders with rabid canvases, and make a conference that is fun and exciting.

Play on Thursday nights. Get on streaming channels, play on Twitter, do a top and lower division of relegation… whatever brings good matchups and interest (and $$$).

Crazy take from yesterday’s Heartland Conference- go to 16 with a nationwide conference, 4 pods of 4. East (UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, WVU), Central (KU, ISU, k-state, OSU), South (TCU, Tech, Houston, Baylor), and West (BYU, Colorado State, Boise State, San Diego State). All time zones. Lots of inventory. Better football than the PAC-12. Could even do a ‘flex game’ at the end of the conference season, take the top team in each pod, and have a 4-team bracket to determine the champion.

While wild, it would be very entertaining.

Jeff Coffman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Replace the East with a Florida Pod...Central, Southern, Florida Gulf, Florida Atlantic.

But i think that at least 3 of those schools have to be replaced. KU, OSU, and WVU.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Thanks for linking that article Joey. That's a great analysis and is clearly the path forward in my eyes.
Plus, I freakin' love the idea of a four pod conference playoff. That would be awesome and I really believe, long-term, when you give these G5 schools that are just shy of Power 5 conference status (UCF, Cinci, Houston, BYU, etc) an opportunity in a Power 5 conference, with additional media exposure and money, they will blossom into the national brands the conference wants and needs long-term. I'd take that 16 team league any day over the Pac-12. Not over the Big10, but maybe the Big10 invitation has just been temporarily lost in the mail.

Layne Pierce 1 month, 3 weeks ago

ISU and KU in the Big 10 would be like Nebraska. It is not a perfect fit culture wise. Except for Northwestern and Iowa, all the universities are nearly twice as big. Maybe the Big 10 can have a division that is only former Big 8 schools, (Neb,Ku,Isu, and Iowa)

At some point KU will really have to decide the best of bad choices.

RCJH

Brett McCabe 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Joey, that is a much better solution than simply keeping the Big 12 on life support. I’ve seen that movie and the sequels. All terrible.

Either get in the BIG or do something BIG. Hanging onto old ideas doesn’t work.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Plus, the author's analysis of the Power 5 conferences is valid in my opinion. If you raid the best teams of the AAC & Mountain West, then the gap between the Power 5 and the other conferences is a vast chasm. The Big 16 (so long Big 12) would have great TV markets and fun and easy travel destinations, and, certainly more fan interest than the Pac-12 generates.

Doug Roberts 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Adding a bunch of city schools who happen to be doing well in football right now is putting a band aid on a broken leg.

KU should lobby for the Big 10. They say they aren't expanding, but wait 2 years and they will.

Jeremy Wilhm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

KU has absolutely nothing to offer the B1G that they don’t already have. There is no incentive for the B1G to invite KU, either right now or two years from now.

Jeremy Wilhm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Again, not a troll. Just not delusional like you.

Spencer Goff 1 month, 3 weeks ago

If the rumors are true, our conference could look like BYU, Tech, TCU, Houston, Baylor, Ok State, KU, KSU, Iowa State, Cincy, West Virginia and UCF.

I would put that conference from top to bottom against anybody not named the current SEC (at least until Nick Saban dies in office) and I damn sure like it better than the Texass Ten.

This proposed conference has only one down football team (us…), three time zones of solid interest, dedicated fanbases that are not West Coast fair weather fans and way better bargaining chips than ESPN is going to admit.

It also has some amazing basketball, but people want to act like it doesn’t matter… at least until networks need programming from late January on.

Bowlsby estimated that UT and OU were driving 14 million per school of our current payouts. Even after a conservative adjustment down that puts our payouts in the 15-20 million range, not the “zomg we suck!” 5 million payouts people suggest. These four rumored teams only add to that value as each one is a solid addition.

Take UT and OUs money, then get these four on board and move forward. I have more interest in this proposed conference growing stronger than being somebody’s pity child. Crap or get off the pot.

Rodney Crain 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I want a pony, I want a puppy, I want a new bike, I want a go cart, I want a drone, I want to be in a Power 4 conference, I want a football team that can win more than 1 game...

Everyone that posted a comment, you are right, and wrong.

Right - Hope, wish on star, ask Santa, anything. Each of you have some valid suggestions.

Wrong - We have no power to push any agenda, by ourselves or with our conference. "Jack Squat" to put a finer point on it!

KU, other than basketball, has very little to offer anyone. Although our men's basketball team is highly respected across the country, it does not move the needle regarding this issue.

We need creative and clever Leadership. An Intelligent, proactive approach that can be implemented in 3 years or less. I just do not see the clown car of folks trying to right the conference ship as the ones who solve this.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It is truly unfortunate that our Chancellor seems to want to keep us in the dark ages if these reports are A)True or B)Credible. I think this is Bowlsby fighting tooth and nail to keep his job. I wonder if this effort takes into account the destruction it will wield within many of the remaining Members including KU. We have a chance to advance and play ball at the Big Boys Table. If Girod and Bowlsby wish to deny us this, they both deserve to lose their jobs. Rock Chalk.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I agree Rodney. I mentioned this before in a different article, Hope Is Not A Strategy.

KU can hope and lobby all it wants, but it has no control over if the Big 10 or ACC decide to expand, and if they do, whether KU gets an invitation.

Lance Leipold, Bill Self, our AD and Chancellor can flirt and persuade (win games and lobby), but even if they do that until they're blue in the face there's no guarantee of getting asked to the dance.

The posters that write, "Let the Big 12 burn" and other such nonsense are like children that tell their parent's they are going to hold their breath until they get what they want.

We have lemons. Lets make the best lemonade we can.

Keith Gellar 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I agree. We have 2 options: 1. Twiddle our thumbs and wait for B1G to come calling (big big If) 2. Start work right now to build and expand the Big 12.

Unfortunately, option 1 is very low probability thanks to complacent nature of KU AD, Chancellor, Coach Self and KU fanbase. We all became accustomed to a mediocre bball program. Football was always in the gutter, but if we had more national championships - that would have carried a lot more weight. But instead, we have big 12 streak who no one...i repeat...no one outside of KU and maybe Big 12 give a flip about. Each year, we would end in disappointment, but the KU faithful swept it under the rug rather than calling out the team and coach self. Our go to response would be "well, at least we're not ksu or mu" or "at least we made the tourney..unlike ksu or kentucky who are in the nit". Until this attitude changes, and until the bball program starts picking up some titles - don't expect the narrative to change. Bill Self is sitting rather comfy with his lifetime contract...no incentive to improve. and we have failed as fans on holding him accountable.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You obviously have lost all fight within you. This talk is defeating what most of us want-better future for Kansas. Lead Follow or get out of the way.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The naysayers are parroting back the defeatist punchline that OU, UTEX, and ESPN want to hear. That we have nothing to offer any better Conference, that we should just sit in our own crap and not do anything to better ourselves. By posting this depressive drivel you are adding to the chance that we will see no fees or penalties from OU or UTEX, that we will remain a diminished School in a second rate Conference, put together with bubble gum. i for one would rather go down trying to better the state of our Athletic Programs than admit defeat and second-rate status, just keep within this hamfisted failure and do exactly what Bowlsby needs to keep job security. Better to go out fighting to improve our lot than accept this demotion to keep the Status quo in a Conference filled with G5 Institutions. BYU may be another matter, but I would rather see us fold than take another Fundie Religious training School for Missionaries. Folks we have a brighter future ahead if we just have the guts to try. Why cripple our chances at something better? The Big 8 had a rule we never broke, unit the State of Texas made us break it. NO religiously controlled Universities. We need to remember this. It is much preferable to fight for our demons than to give into them.

Jeff Coffman 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Are you a proponent of removing Texas Christian University and Baylor out of the Big 12? Or just after certain religious schools?

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I am a proponent of Kansas getting OUT of the Big 12. Your mileage may differ. TCU is hardly a Religious University. They are more a Private Institution no longer affiliated with the D of C. They kept their name. I do not have to like Baylor and their crappy discriminatory policies, I was against their inclusion in 1994 and am against it today. I have similar problems with the LDS because of their support of Change ministries and the attitudes of the leaders who control the University with an iron claw. The Honor Code at BYU is medieval and the Church that operates them is filled with insane and nonhuman policies. All of the other Schools we are looking at are either east or south. They are 1,046 miles the wrong way. For a multiplicity of reasons, BYU does not fit. No I do not think TCU needs to be out of the Big 12. Baylor is already here but BYU is something else entirely.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 month, 3 weeks ago

In addition, you're factually incorrect. The Big 12 staying together or expanding requires OU, UT and ESPN to fulfill their television (media rights) deal. If the league fell apart, then that would serve the OU/UT/ESPN interests of not paying up &/or leaving early. I'm curious what your actionable agenda is? If you're Chancellor Girod, what are you promoting?

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

It does not have to include (without a reduced escape clause) the University of Kansas. Our leaving would do little to make a conference held together by revenge and duct tape to fold. We can be replaced by other Institutions. Keeping us behind just to satisfy the job security of the Big12 officers is not what I believe we need to be looking at. But hey it's a free country. Look as defeatist as you want. All it does is hurt KU and their chances of finding a better place to be.

Spencer Goff 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Get off the hypocrisy, politico crap train. You cannot tell how good a conference partner a school makes based on their affiliation. It was one of the most progressive "non fundamentalist" public universities in this country (Texass) that has now broken up two conferences. If they really cared about anything more than their wallet the Big 12 and possibly SWC would still be going strong.

Your last statement implies that it was the fault of the religious universities in our conference that blew it up, and that simply is inaccurate and, quite frankly, hypocritical.

Texass blew it up, the ultra liberal university did it for money and sports. I'm not trying to be political because politics makes my jock itch, but you need to be a realist about who and what actually happened. Baylor and TCU were both loyal and performed, I cannot say the same for their in-state partner.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Bringing my "Political Persuasions" into this is useless. You can only guess and probably wrongly what they are. Texas is not the Uber Liberal University you play them out to be. Your attacking whatever my political belief is is out of bounds here. so is the guessing of what the political leaning of the Flagship of one of the most conservative States out there. I am against discrimination on any level. That is the American way. My politics are my own business. You have no right to even bring this up. This is a sports Website, not an excuse for a political diatribe. You are way out of bounds bringing politics into this forum.

Spencer Goff 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I have not guessed or insinuated any of your political persuasions, nor do you know mine. I simply mean to defend TCU and Baylor as supportive members of this conference, it was not the religious schools that tore this thing to shreds, and it is not the anti-religious schools coming to rescue their stranded brethren. I am fine with any university that is a contributing member to a successful conference, and that is not what we had. KU is largely a progressive institution, but to assume that it somehow makes us better is derogatory and, quite frankly, puts us in the same vane as the very same Texass school that bailed on everybody because they "just weren't our quality." The two religious universities in our conference are good schools, BYU has excellent programs, despite my disagreements with some of their policies, I cannot argue their academic success. I stand by my statement that your comment attempts to imply this conference was strong when we excluded Baylor and TCU when the truth is this conference was stronger when we excluded the University of Texass.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 1 month, 3 weeks ago

I get my facts from publicly available Big 12 bylaws and signed, contractual agreements. For example, in the Big 12’s bylaws, the 10 programs agreed to remain in the conference until July 1, 2111, a period of 99 years from the July 1, 2012 agreement.
OU and UT signed agreements with the Big 12 granting their first and second tier media rights to the league through June 30, 2025. The league owns those rights even if the schools leave the league. The bylaws also state that schools that exit the league must provide 18 months notice and also forfeit two years’ of media distributions, which could total up to $75-$80 million per school. The bylaws are written in such a way that unless the league dissolves the remaining schools would receive the exit fees.

Leaving the Big 12 next year would require a supermajority vote, as Big 12 bylaws require 18 full months before the notice date and the effective date of withdrawal. Or six of the remaining eight schools could potentially vote to dissolve the conference.

Only if the conference we’re to dissolve would UT and OU get out without paying the exit fees or negotiating for a lesser fee.

I notice you didn’t actually answer the question of what would you do besides complain and throw out insults.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

You got problems lady. Ever consider some medication?

Brett McCabe 1 month, 3 weeks ago

To answer some of the various statements above:

KU offers the KC television market. I believe that it’s a top-35 market in the country. This would put the Big Ten in a new, substantive television market.

KU offers a perennial top-10 basketball program.

KU is an AAU school.

KU is contiguous for travel.

KU has Travis Goff. A guy with the connections and insight to make a transition feasible.

The Big 12 is a meaningless conference with no real traditions or rivals outside of the Original Four. Remember those great WVU/TCU/Baylor conference games back in school? I don’t, because they never happened.

If you want to go big and dramatic with something like Joey posted, then you might have something. But patching in a couple more meaningless additions is exactly what the conference, that begin withering the day that it was formed, has done.

Girod has about as much vision as a Chevy engineer in the 70’s. Or CEO, more accurately.

It’s up to fans and alums to hold feet to fire. Same ‘ol, Same ‘ol isn’t going to cut it.

Jeremy Wilhm 1 month, 3 weeks ago

KC is #34 in TV market size. Guess who is #8....Houston. Guess who is #17....Orlando (UCF). Guess who is #30.....Salt Lake City (BYU). Guess who is right by KC at #36.....Cincinnati. That's four schools with same or bigger TV markets as KU and has a much better recent football record that the B1G, PAC, or ACC would take over KU if the Big 12 falls.

Everything else you listed about basketball, AAU, travel - it has either no bearing or offers extremely little influence on the current round of realignment. It's not an easy truth to face, but it is the truth.

Vern Sheldon-Witter 1 month, 3 weeks ago

An unsolicited testimonial for Hope instead of caving into hopelessness-which is exactly what OuT wants to absolve them from paying their bills. It won't take long. They or ESPN/Disney will have to pay as of the 2023 season because they have already made agreements with the SEC-behind our backs-to be playing an SEC Schedule by that time. Folks try not to be sheeple. That is what they are hoping for-and Kansas going to a better situation in a year or two will make no difference in that.

Tony Bandle 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Random thoughts:

1] The only constant in life is change...ten years from now...

2] We'll be debating if the total of 16 teams for the football playoff series is enough.

3] Games will be streamed by individual match-ups, not necessarily conference schedules.

4] KU will have a state-of-the-art stadium...off site.

5] There will be female head coaches.

6] All QB's will be wearing a bright-colored jersey and only need to tagged to be downed.

7] Two feet in bounds will be required to complete a pass per NFL rules.

8] Advertisements will be on all football uniforms.

9] Top recruits will be paid signing bonuses just like MLB.

10] And I'll cheer hard for KU as I do now! :)

Robert Brock 1 month, 3 weeks ago

The Big 10 amuses me: what were those people thinking when they added Rutgers? Supposedly, Rutgers would add a lot of TV sets but how many of those TVs are going to be tuned to Rutgers in action? The content is something below reruns of Jake and the Fat Man.

At least KU brings a blue blood basketball program with a nationwide following. Real content.

Spencer Goff 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Their old commish was still stuck in the days of cable television. His deal had a different payout contractually from cable companies if you had a university IN that state as opposed to carriers outside your official presence. Thus, he wanted to be in New York for the B1G network, so he chose Rutgers because of their academic resume and assumed they would build up their sports performance by being associated with the B1G. Delaney simply was not ready for the digital age, if he had been he would know the cable box is a dying breed, and acted accordingly. They were better off at 12 then adding Maryland and Rutgers.

Keith Gellar 1 month, 3 weeks ago

"At least KU brings a blue blood basketball program with a nationwide following. Real content."

Nationwide following? What nationwide following? Are you referring to Jayhawks allover the nation following? if so, please STOP! JUST STOP! Bulls had a nationwide following! Lakers have a nationwide follow! Kansas does not! I grew up in north east and until i really got plugged into bbal, had no clue about Kansas and it records.

I'll give you our blueblood status - but we are a few years from turning into a UCLA. but nationwide following? This type of mindset is why we are in this mess to begin with - KU is the greatest program in the world! We have a huge following! ....yes- such a huge following that no other power conference even wants to take us in solely on our bball merits.

Pamela Shanks 1 month, 3 weeks ago

My experience leads me to disagree, You might consider the fact that KU fans filled the Stanford arena in year one, substantially out numbering Stanford fans. Year two, the game was moved out of the Bay Area and up to Sacramento (a four hour drive in traffic from Palo Alto). We nearly filled that NBA arena as well. Bill Self called both experiences a home court feel and advantage. There is big and loyal west coast following. So while our following may not compare to some, in my experience across the west and southwest, KU travels well and fans are thrilled to get a chance to see the Jayhawks in person. How that translates into conference realignment...well, we'll see. But there is no doubt that KU has a following out west.

Spencer Goff 1 month, 3 weeks ago

So let's assume this new conference gets formed up. Do we keep the league offices in DFW or do they get moved?

For obvious reasons, Oklahoma City is out. And for further obvious reasons, Kansas City, MO should be out. But where else? Gardner?

I can't believe I am saying it, but I think the offices get the best exposure and influence staying in Fort Worth.

I think I taste vomit.....

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