Thursday, May 31, 2012

Leaders at Big 12 meetings: League set at 10

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione talks to reporters at the Big 12 conference's annual spring meetings on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione talks to reporters at the Big 12 conference's annual spring meetings on Wednesday, May 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo.


— If the Big 12 Conference is planning to expand in the near future, its leaders sure are putting forth a strong effort to hide it.

Wednesday, after the opening round of the conference’s annual spring meetings at the Intercontinental Hotel near The Plaza, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard and Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione took time to address a group of reporters that even included one writer who covers Florida State for the Tallahassee Democrat.

The question on everyone’s mind was whether the Big 12 had any interest in expanding back to 12 or beyond. The answer that was given repeatedly throughout the question-and-answer session was, “No.”

“We did (discuss expansion),” Neinas said while answering the opening question. “And the athletic directors confirmed their position that they’re comfortable with 10 members.”

After stating that right out of the gate, all three men were asked in a variety of different ways about Florida State, Notre Dame, Clemson and other schools rumored to be at least on the radar of Big 12 expansion. Although all three presented a unified front, none of them chose to squash the speculation 100 percent, despite being given repeated chances throughout the hour or so that they spoke to reporters.

“We deal with what we know,” Castiglione said. “Not hypotheticals.”

Skeptics of the Big 12’s current stance point to similar words that came from the SEC office during the summer of 2011. After announcing publicly that the league was pleased with its lineup at the time, the SEC jumped at the opportunity to scoop up Texas A&M; and, later, Missouri, but only after those two schools first severed ties with the Big 12.

Whether that’s what’s happening here is anyone’s guess, but Neinas, Pollard and Castiglione each said that the schools rumored to be linked to potential Big 12 expansion never were so much as mentioned during Wednesday’s meetings.

“We’re not talking about them,” Castiglione said. “We’re talking about 10.”

When pressed for clarification by the reporter from Florida, Neinas confirmed that the Big 12 had not been contacted by Florida State and added, “and we have not reached out to Florida State.”

As the questions concerning why 10 schools is ideal for the Big 12 piled up, Neinas continually pointed to what he believes is right with the league. He made mention of the addition of TCU and West Virginia and the greater sense of unity that has come with the elimination of divisions. He also briefly talked about the vastly improved television deals the league has secured with ESPN and FOX and highlighted the recent agreement with the SEC to create the Champions Bowl, which would pit the Big 12 and SEC football champions against one another in a postseason bowl game, provided those teams are not a part of the anticipated final four that appears destined to replace the current BCS system.

While all of those examples of the league’s strength and stability were known coming into the day, many still wondered if the Big 12 was and is making a mistake by not taking a more aggressive approach for a third straight summer.

“I would say the position we’re in is very proactive,” Pollard said. “We’re making the proactive decision to say 10 is in our best interest. We think we’re positioned in a way that we’ve got (everything) covered and can act accordingly if we feel we need to. But, right now, we think the way it’s going to turn out is we may be the one that’s left standing (while everyone else says), ‘They had this thing figured out a year ago or two years ago.’”

Added Neinas, yet again: “The future looks bright for the Big 12 Conference. Bigger is not necessarily better.”

As for the league’s official take on the best system to improve upon the BCS mess with a four-team football playoff at the end of the season, that stance was much more clear.

“We’re in favor of taking the four highest ranked teams,” Neinas said. “And we think there should be some type of selection committee situation and strength of schedule must, underscore must, be included in any analysis.”

A decision from the BCS is expected by the end of June. The Big 12 spring meetings resume today and will wrap up Friday morning.


Bangkok_Jayhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Still can't get over this whole realignment mess... West Virginia in the Big 12?! San Diego State in the Big East?! 10 teams in the Big 12 and 12 teams in the Big 10?

On a side note: Of course those guys denied talking about expansion. There is not really any benefit of discussing expansion unless you have another school confirmed to come in. I wouldn't put a lot of stock in the denials.

Spencer Goff 10 years, 4 months ago

I laughed at this, most likely one of those "truth in humor" moments. As soon as they say nothing is going on, it surely means something is going on.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 4 months ago

"Bigger isn't necessarily better."..... when we're talking FSU, Clemson or ND it sure is.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 4 months ago

... If your theory were correct then ND would be a counterbalance to Texas.

Brak 10 years, 4 months ago

Hmm...Always talking crap on Texas and assuming the Big12 is going to implode. Talking very highly of the SEC and never bad mouthing Mizzou. Bad troll is bad.

jhox 10 years, 4 months ago

I can't say I disagree completely with JHWKDW, Brak, but the grammar and spelling in the post is really poor, so you may be right. He (or she) may well be a Missouri grad. I'm not saying that with the intention of being one of those "grammar cops", who I generally despise. I'm merely pointing out the fact that the grammar is suggestive of a possible MU troll.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 4 months ago

Dodds has been courting Notre Dame for two or three years, so I don't think he's opposed to more than 10 so much as he wants the Big12 to be discriminating about who they consider adding.

aerohawk 10 years, 4 months ago

"You have to analyze whether you want to go beyond 10 first," Neinas said. "There's more to it than just adding a member. How it impacts the membership in terms of the BCS standings, how it impacts the television arrangement, how it impacts the basketball arrangement, what it does to other sports. I think you have to take an analytical approach to it."

This is from the ESPN article about the same topic. I thought it was interesting that he mentioned basketball.

LogicMan 10 years, 4 months ago

You, above, hairless plains apes should get some sleep!

I take them at their word -- they are going to wait on any formal expansion until after the playoff method is set. But you can bet there's lots of talks going on behind the scenes, especially with ND.

Stan Unruh 10 years, 4 months ago

Totally agree. Why show your hand now. When the word on the playoff is announced next month, the Big 12 will be able to take further action. We need to be patient.

bradh 10 years, 4 months ago

What I hear is that the Big 12 will sit back and let other conferences decide our fate, again.

HawkDigestCom 10 years, 4 months ago

Despite their recent success in losing four schools and getting to their dream of number of 10 (which was obviously the secret plan all along) ... they're just not instilling me with a lot of confidence. I predict a fumble at the goal line.

jhox 10 years, 4 months ago

If they are being truthful, then they are also being very short sighted. Whether they like it or not, the future is super conferences. Alden may have been right on target when he said the differences between the SEC and the big. 12 is that the SEC is concerned with the long term picture and not just the next couple of years. While 10 teams does make a lot of scheduling sense, and may mean more revenues for schools in the short term, the Big 12 needs to be careful or they may end up being left out of the superconference race.

Patrick Leiker 10 years, 4 months ago

It was interesting to hear Alden say that. Maybe the reason the Big 12 was never able to look at the long term picture is because they had to deal with people like the governor of Missouri running his mouth about how attractive Missouri was to the Big Ten. Maybe if ADs like Alden hadn't always been looking for greener pastures the Big 12 would have been able to look long term instead of trying to appease a few dissidents.

jhox 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm not one to defend MU in relation to anything, and you do bring up a good point, pleiker, but let's be honest here, the Big 12 was a mess from the day they moved the league offices to Texas. MU and the Missery Governer may well have started the ball rolling toward the break up of the conference, with their public love of the Big 10. However, in the eyes of the folks in Texas, the Northern schools were second class citizens. Never mind the fact that the Big 8 was THE viable conference when they merged with the SWC. The Northern schools were not dealt with fairly from the start. The conference was horribly managed.

Let's hope the new Commissioner does as good a job as the interim commissioner did. It helped that Texas has finally been hit with a reality check (in that they now realize that nobody will put up with their antics like the old Big 12 schools did for too many years.) The fact that the Pac 12 turned down OU, OSU and Texas this second time around says a lot. Texas has finally realized that the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. Financially, the Big 12 is in their best interest and, hopefully, they now realize that they're going to have to share the management of the conference with the other schools.

OU tried its own power play, and that resulted in MU leaving. If nothing else, the so called power brokers in the conference have been brought down a rung, and now understand that they don't hold all of the cards. The conference is in better condition than it has been in a very long time. They have forward momentum. Let's hope they don't get complacent and lose that.

JayHok 10 years, 4 months ago

Jhox, I think all of us will agree that the big 12 comish at some point a few years ago lost control of things. What we needed a few years ago was for someone to stand up and bring everyone together like Neinas did. "if anybody wants out, get out now. Otherwise stay in and help us build this conference for the future. We as a conference are only as strong as our weakest length."

So that speech has been given now in some shape or form. Even with the contracts, we're every bit as equal as the SEC. Too bad our leadership voice Mizzou left three weeks before things came back together in the conference. For Mizzou to not see that Beebe was 75% of the problem was shortsided of them. Mizzou fans started this team up on Texas mentality. A lot of us would agree that elements of that were occurring before Neinas stepped in and got the members on the same page. But it took leadership, not our public voice--Mizzou-- spreading their bad thoughts about Texas. The funny thing is Mizzou is about to go through this entire thing again with Alabama when it signs a half million dollar tier 3 package. It's legal and that's what really upset Mizzou the most. Texas signed a deal that was legal in the big 12 and now look what conference is about to follow Texas' footsteps---the SEC. Poor Mizzou...

If the SEC messes up and chooses a bad commish for their next one, watch out. Mizzou fans likely will blame it all on Alabama, especially the fact that they will never win an SEC championship, just like they never won a regular season Big 12 championship.

jhox 10 years, 4 months ago

I believe Missery leaving was as much about hurt feelings as it was about the sense of insecurity, or the Texas Longhorn Network. In fact, I think the only teams really upset about the Long Horn Network were Texas A&M and to a lesser extent OU, or at least that was the case once the conference or the NCAA told Texas they couldn't show high school games on that network. I don't think MU had that much of a problem with it other than when high school games were being discussed on the LHN.

In any event, the entire episode was about hurt feelings and insecurity. The same can be said for Nebraska leaving (they were mostly upset over the opposition to having the Big 12 football title game alternating in KC, and the fact that none of their Big 12 brethern were supporting them in that stance.) KU, MU, KSU and ISU were all more than happy to give that up, in order to have most of the basketball tournaments in KC.

I recall reading how upset Missery was that David Boren (OU's President) had scheduled a press conference as the same time as Brady Deaton (MU's President). Deaton's press conference was for official Big 12 business, and he felt Boren was trying to one up him. That was supposedly the final straw. MU decided they needed to show the world they had some value, so they took their ball and went to find new friends. I hope they live to regret it. The travel will not be fun. I would love nothing more than see the Big 12 add the likes of FSU and Miami (or Clemson, or Georgia Tech) or, better yet, Notre Dame. How would MU feel if those things happened, and they missed out on the opportunity to add high profile rivalries without the dramatic increase in travel the SEC will involve? That would be poetic justice. Their most natural rivals should be Arkansas and aTm, yet they won't even play those two schools on an annual basis. They've sold their soul to prove they have some value to someone. The Big 12 is on the most stable footing they've been on in years. There is no way they are better off in the SEC.

Robert Brown 10 years, 4 months ago

Actually, not surveying the landscape and and not being proactive is what got the conference in trouble in the first place. Of course, it really doesn't make sense to come out and say they plan to expand. I suspect that there will be more activity after the national championship formula is determined.

It seems like the Big 12 is echoing what the SEC is saying about the championship game. Maybe there will be a tighter alliance with the SEC. How about a 24 team super conference that that is operational during football season?

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 4 months ago

I still think if the superconferences start up, Kansas falls into one of the 64 teams.

The PAC 12 seems to be the conference I always get concerned about when trying to get to 16 (if that is what occurs).

If you look at their landscape, there aren't a lot of schools in the West that would be "BCS" caliber.

Remember they were reaching for UT and OU, and were taking their step-brothers to appease them. If you look now, who would they go after?

The Big Ten, anybody would be happy to go there. However, they will be fairly picky getting to 16, they will only take members of current BCS conferences.

The SEC only has to get two more teams, they can get leftovers and still remain viable (they would even like an additional texas school like TT or even Baylor). Demographically I think they would like a North Carolina School.

The Big XII doesn't really care, but they only want to expand when the team itself brings in big revenue.

The ACC is looking more like the Big East from last year, holding onto the basketball schools (and catering to them), whereas not realizing that the dollars are associated with football.

Ultimately, once the decision is made, it might not require superconferences, if that is the case, teams will like the 10 team team setup. If they go to conference championships and you have to have 12 teams, we will grab two guess would be Notre Dame and FSU starting in 2013 (after the ND football deal is expired) and after FSU requests to join the Big XII (and severs its ties with the ACC). I don't see the 16 teams ever taking shape.

If you have 16, in basketball do you play all 15 one time and the three in your pod an additional 1 time?

In football, I know you aren't playing 15 games, so do you play your pod every year and then rotate to a different pod every year? I guess I don't get it.

april28 10 years, 4 months ago

Air Force and ND. Two strong athletic programs, national brands, great academics, reasonable travel. Perfect fits with our conference.

I'd rather have Air Force than Louisville any day.

baldwinjhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

Air Force doesn't want to deal with our conference. They were approached with the mormons. It got too complicated.

LogicMan 10 years, 4 months ago

If I remember correctly, AFA said publicly that because of their weight/size restrictions (military fitness requirements), they couldn't compete well-enough on the field with the Big 12. The MWC is a good fit for them.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 4 months ago

We should have a conference of ONE. League Champs every year!

Wait - we already do that in basketball......

kujh1970 10 years, 4 months ago

Of course, what is eventually going to happen is there will be only two conferences, the Big East and the Big West. The country will be spit down the middle, which will later be determined. It will play out much like the NFL and the NBA. There will be sub-divisions with an eventual play-off system to crown the National Champion. You heard it here first.

LogicMan 10 years, 4 months ago

Big North and Big South, with the championship game fought in Gettysburg, PA.

Robert Brock 10 years, 4 months ago

The Big 12 is looking strong now. No need to rush into taking others until they get the right fit.

Vernon Riggs 10 years, 4 months ago

Can you say Tortious Interference? The Big12 can say they have clean hands.

Patrick Leiker 10 years, 4 months ago

Maybe they didn't plan it this way, but they are right about the benefits of not having to play a championship game now that there will be a 4 team playoff. You think the football coaches at Missouri and A&M are happy about the idea of having to win an SEC division plus the championship game in order to make the 4 team playoff? Will never happen. They just eliminated themselves from the possibility of ever making a 4 team playoff.

Brian Skelly 10 years, 4 months ago

This is the public position and should be. At least until the 'playoff' set up is determined. And no, I dont buy that they are satisfied at 10. At least no one beyond UT. OU seems to have publicly come out for 12 (or more). I think there are more schools for expanding, than arent. Im also quite sure that it is factual that there is no consensus on which way to go.

While this year its 10, I see almost zero chance of it being 10 next year. To much money on the table for a handful of teams to lose out on.

jhawkNKC 10 years, 4 months ago

Ok, this may seem like a silly question but I swear, for the life of me, I have not seen this addressed anywhere yet...not on the radio, on the web or in print: if they stay at 10 teams for at least a couple of years, is it still going to be called the "Big 12?"

I know the very first comment touched on a similar thing with the Big 10 having 12 teams...I just assumed that the name would have to fit the number of teams in the league if they did, in fact, want that as part of the league name. Just doesn't seem to make much sense to have 10 teams yet be called the Big 12. Am I missing something here?????

texashawk10 10 years, 4 months ago

The names will stay the same because the conferences own the trademark for the conference names. I could be wrong, but I want to say that the the Big 10 owns the trademark for Big 14 and Big 16. It could be the Big 12 that owns those trademarks, but I seem to remember reading that the Big 10 owns the rights to those names.

jhawkNKC 10 years, 4 months ago

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks...hadn't seen anyone talk about that topic!

Ron Prichard 10 years, 4 months ago

I remember hearing that about the trademarks, but I thought it was the Big XII that owned them. I wouldn't swear to that, though.

texashawk10 10 years, 4 months ago

I don't remember for sure either, but I want to say that the Big 10 bought the rights to the Big 14 and Big 16 names when they added Nebraska two years ago.

Larry Smith 10 years, 4 months ago

Well, The Big 10 conference had 11 teams for 18 years before they added Nebraska. So, I don't think the conference name is that big of a deal.

Vernon Riggs 10 years, 4 months ago

We won't stay at 10 teams. The Big12 can't come out and say 'we want FSU and Clemson' to entice them to leave the ACC. We would have to have Baylor Prez Ken Starr represent us in the trial and then pay the damages to the ACC. Wait for it.

Hank Cross 10 years, 4 months ago

There's no need to go to 12 now b4 the playoff system is established. Even after that happens, you have to make sure that the new teams are going to make their nut and add some to the pot for the rest. Of the possible additions, only FSU has a case for adding real $$$ to tv contracts. (Please, not another word about ND coming to the B12. If forced into a league, they're going to the B10, or even the ACC or the P12 over the B12. ND, however, will join the SEC and B12 in supporting the best 4 format over the best 4 conference champs format.)

Bevo and its beloved LHN aren't going anywhere and any conference with UT is going to be a superconference. As of now, the ACC (and by extension the BE) exist at the whim of the B12. If the B12 wants FSU and Miami/Clemson, they will go and the ACC will be out of the contention to be a FB superconference. The ACC and the BE would then become BB backwaters.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 4 months ago

I agree with everything you said except possibly ND. I don't think they even know what they are going to do right now, but I do think controlling their third tier rights is a major issue with them and the Big 10 will never let that happen. I'm not saying they will come to the Big XII, but given the last two years and the complete turn of fortunes for the Big XII, I hesitate to rule anything out.

KGphoto 10 years, 4 months ago

Notre Dame to the B1G makes sense. In fact that where I think they'll end up, however I don't see why they would pick the PAC over the Big 12. I especially don't see them going ACC. What has you thinking that?

Hank Cross 10 years, 4 months ago

ND doesn't have any rivalries, tradition, or anything in common with the B12. They would go the P12 over the B12 because it is a superior academic conference and b/c of their rivalry with USC. They also have a quasi-rivalry with Stanford.

Academics and image would also be why they would choose the ACC over the B12 as they would be a better fit with Duke, UNC, UVa, MD and their old foe BC.They also schedule ACC teams. The additions of Pitt and Cuse would also be more tempting than OKstate, ISU, and TT.

In the end, I think the 4 best format will prevail and ND will remain indy.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 4 months ago

I believe he said Big East over the Big Ten.

Spencer Goff 10 years, 4 months ago

Realignment MUST be done if they said they are happy with ten.

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kureader 10 years, 4 months ago

It started with a couple schools who decided to leave their conference for money ... now we have a free-for-all. We now have ALL the conferences, university chancellors and presidents, state Boards of Regents, the NCAA, the BCS, ESPN, other television networks, and state and federal government officials ... all wanting to excercise some control over conference alignment and postseason games. I'm not sure even the Big 12 officials can predict the outcome.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 4 months ago

I just heard from an inside source that without a doubt, we are 100% going to stay at 10 teams until we go to 11 or 12.

arizonahawk 10 years, 4 months ago

It makes perfect sense for us to continue the name "Big XII" and only have ten teams. Just like Iowa State's mascot is the Cyclone but also a red bird. More proof that logic is not required for successful college sports.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 4 months ago

Regarding trademarks..I was told that The Big 10 owns The Big 14 and the Big 16, however the Big XII owns The Big XIV ant The Big XVI, the difference being the Roman Numerals, although I'm not sure I am buying that explanation.

Imagine however, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State, Clemson, Oklahoma State, TCU, West Virginia and BYU all in the same football conference along with KU,KSU, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor plus anybody that would be a super conference!!!

We'd never get a sniff of a national title but we'd sure make a lot of money!!!

LogicMan 10 years, 4 months ago

BYU probably burned its bridge last year. They should go back to the MWC until BYU's management changes their ways enough for the PAC to take them.

Jeff Kilgore 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm stealing this from local sports radio because the point is clear: major conferences expand, minor conferences contract. That point makes it clear where the BigXII needs to head, no matter what they say.

We need to be a true 12, and this needs to be done this July. FSU and Clemson would be great additions. Maybe next year we look again. I'm neutral on ND but believe that they'll ultimately fit the Big10. Miami might say that it's happy where it's at, but that's just the present talking. If the ACC melts down, they'll be looking to move. This would be great for lesser football teams in the conference. We can walk in to both Florida and Texas and be more relevant. That would immediately improve the talent base.

Go Thunder!

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