Waiting game roars on in Big 12 expansion saga


My favorite part about the ongoing Big 12 expansion saga is how often it compels people to state the obvious.

The most recent and notable example of that came earlier this week when Oklahoma president David Boren, speaking after the Oklahoma board of regents meeting Wednesday night, so eloquently declared that Big 12 expansion was not a given.

Terrific. Glad we got that cleared up.

Of course it’s not a given. If it were, it would’ve been done long before now.

There’s even a decent argument to be made that it SHOULD have been done long before now. If that were the case, KU might be opening its Big 12 football slate at Louisville in a couple of weeks or looking ahead to a January basketball match-up between Rick Pitino and Bill Self. Instead, the Cardinals and all-world quarterback Lamar Jackson are doing their thing in the ACC and the Big 12 is sifting through a pool of less-than-desirable expansion candidates.

I’ll give Boren this: For a man who has never been shy about opening his mouth and stoking the fires of one of the hottest topics ever to hit college athletics, his recent comments show a certain level of progress back toward reality and indicate he may have learned something from his past mistakes.

There’s nothing wrong with Boren stating the obvious if the obvious is true. And, in this case, it most certainly is.

The next meeting of the Big 12 board of directors is now just a month out and, although commissioner Bob Bowlsby has gone on record saying he would like for there to be a vote of some kind regarding expansion at that meeting, this conference hardly seems like it’s ready to move ahead with that four weeks from now.

Reports have indicated that the vote may not even happen and that all 10 members of the conference at least have some concerns about where the expansion process currently stands.

That won’t keep the speculation or politicking from running wild, though. What’s the fun in that?

Fans, coaches and administrators from those schools still deemed to be “in the running” continue to try to put their best foot forward in an effort to impress and inspire the Big 12 to bring them into the conference. Can’t blame them for that.

But the impassioned pleas of those schools desiring a spot, Boren admitted, may go for naught.

“I’m also listening to fans, not just to our coaches and AD and other people,” he said. “How do they feel about it? Are they excited about the expansion pool.... I’ve sometimes described the league moving at glacial speed in the past, but I think the main thing is for us to be thoughtful.”

The funny part about that statement is this: The fans, coaches and even ADs have next to no say in all of this. Heck, even Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby is having a difficult time in this mess and he’s the one who was hired to lead it. Instead of being an open process which equally values the input of those who run the schools and those who know the most about college athletics, the current expansion talk is being driven and decided in the offices of Big 12 presidents and chancellors, good news for some schools and awful news for others.

So again we wait. What exactly we’re waiting for certainly is open to interpretation and remains to be seen.

Some believe we’re waiting on the Big 12 to pick the schools with which it wants to move forward, be that two new members or four. Others believe we’re waiting on some kind of Hail Mary that magically presents more attractive expansion candidates. And still others believe we’re waiting for the Big 12 to do nothing.

Regardless of which of those reads is right — or, perhaps more fittingly, if they all are — the man who has been the least prudent in all of this, at least in the public eye, suddenly is banging the drum for the Big 12 to be more thoughtful.

The problem is, if you have to give too much thought to which schools you want or even whether the conference should expand at all, doesn’t that kind of answer the question for you?


Suzi Marshall 5 years, 11 months ago

Boren has long been a pro-BYU guy to join the Big 12. U Houston quickly became the other high value pair. Apparently at the OU BoR meeting some serious questions about BYU came up regarding their Code of Conduct and that several Big 12 Student Councils (ISU, KSU considering, etc) petitioning to keep them out. Along with the no-Sunday play, several OU people have questioned...'Do we really need to bring on this headache?' With the Number 1 option, BYU, now in question, that leaves only UH, with it's #8 DMA (Designated Market Area). Since many in the Big 12, especially at OU, see Cincinnati as a very poor substitute for BYU, that leaves the question to be...Does the Big 12 expand by only one...UH? Expansion by only one is unlikely.

I'm thinking the Big 12 expands with BYU and UH or they don't do it at all, which would put the death rattle around the Big 12's neck.

Daniel Kennamore 5 years, 11 months ago

The only way I'd be okay with adding Houston is if we go to 14. To only go to 12 and add yet another Texas school would be a literal waste of everyone's time and money.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 11 months ago

The Big 12 'needs' Houston far more than they 'want' them.

Fred Davis 5 years, 11 months ago

Suzi - tune into 97.5 Mondays and Thursdays from 7-10p for a little Jayhawk love from time to time.... Rock Chalk

Fred Davis 5 years, 11 months ago

I'm trying to wrap my brain around why people have an issue with adding another Texas school. Texans care about sports and they produce some of the best talent - in any sport - in the country. So why wouldn't you want to add a school from the soon-to-be largest 3rd City in the Entire USA? KU has tremendous support here in Houston and adding it to the Big 12 would be a boon to both the school and conference. It adds a natural rival for most of the rest of the conference and you've got a school that is committed to improving its facilities and national standing. I'm struggling with how that's a bad thing.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 11 months ago

The avid KU support in Houston is on display with every watch-party at 'Coaches Bar & Grill.' We are getting it going up north at Stadia in The Woodlands as well.

Daniel Kennamore 5 years, 11 months ago

Because it doesn't expand our footprint at all. Further, it adds yet another P5 school in the state which makes KU's chances at getting the state's 3rd-4th tier football recruits even less likely.

There are more important things to consider than convenience of fans we already have in a city.

Fred Davis 5 years, 11 months ago

Expanding what footprint? The Big 12's? Yeah, let's 'expand' the Conference's footprint by adding a directional school that no one cares about... UH has history and ties to the conference already - you know what expands a conference's footprint? Good rivalries and great games. UH and OU was a National story that dominated CFB headlines on one of the biggest opening weekends in CFB history. If you're worried that you might not get recruits you've already lost. KU needs to worry about wins right now regardless of who is added to the conference. UH has a devout following and adds more cache to the conference - and if you don't think having a presence in the 3rd/4th largest city in America that's also the Nation's Energy Capital doesn't 'expand the footprint - then enjoy UCF and its robust history.

Alex Fletcher 5 years, 11 months ago

What following? They have trouble filling out their small stadium as it is.

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

People are concerned because they're whiny little small town Chicken Littles. Ask Nebraska fans how their grand escape from under the oppressive thumb of Texas has gone. Now they're Ohio State and Michigan's biotches...

Doug Wallace 5 years, 11 months ago

They love it because no more Texass Shorthorn B.S. They have a voice in all matters unlike the little 12-2.Hell the fans even like it! A Big key also is they share revenue and they do not have one team having their own network!

I Dare you to poll or look up online how many people/fans of Neb want to come back to the craphole little 12-2!

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 11 months ago

Historically, large market cities have been pro focused cities (Chicago, NY, LA, Houston), very focused on NFL, NBA, etc. Did the Big 10 really think they were getting NY with Rutgers, do they think they are getting Chicago with Northwestern? It'll be interesting to see with the LA Rams in California how that will affect USC and UCLA.

The next tier have focused on mixes of both college and pros, like KC, Miami, Denver.

Then the next tier is where they have successfully grown just the college sports (e.g., Tuscaloosa, Austin, etc.)

Historically, pro sports thrive in large metros and college sports thrive in up in coming metros, or the mid-markets (some say suburban).

I'm not saying Houston is great, but their focus is on the Texans, Rockets, and Astros, not the Cougars.

Could you imagine...the top two choices are Cougars, followed by a Bearcat. Either way two more cats to join if we expand.

Jay Scott 5 years, 11 months ago

Interesting that you left Dallas off that list....

Doug Wallace 5 years, 11 months ago

Screw this expansion. None of those team WILL EVER REPLACE COLORADO Misery NEBRASKA OR TEXAS A&M PERIOD!

Some of us are praying that the Pac-12 Adds the 5 good teams from the Little 12 KU,KSU, OU,OSU,T Tech, and get us out of this sorry joke of a conference!Better yet what a early Christmas gift that would be!

Better yet bring Houston and UTEP over to the Pac-12 Also! Maybe even Hawaii.

Hell make the Pac-12 Pac 20!

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 11 months ago

Am I the only one bugged we are the Big XII and we only have ten schools? Maybe a new name while we are at it. The Big ___, and we can just refer to it by how many at the time. Or...The Big Football Conference. Maybe The Big Boren. The Will They or Won't They Conference? The Anxiety Ridden/Sometimes Outright Paranoid Conference. University of Texas/University of Oklahoma/T-Boone Conference! Why not make some extra money and have kind of dating reality show with different schools, each with a rose in their hand (and a bag of cash) invited out for a private rendezvous with Boren to discuss romance and possible marriage? Bowlsby can be locked out of the room anxiously awaiting, jealous and giving asides to another camera about what might be going on in the other room. He looks into the camera and cries, "Bitch!"

On a more serious, less fun note, I do think another possibility is Boren, whose vision and ego are legendary down here in Oklahoma, may have some type of BYU/ Notre Dame fantasy going. And the reality is the For Sale sign went unheeded to create a "dream league." Worst case, if nothing happens, other shifts begin to take place across the country and Texas, OU, OSU, and maybe Baylor, form a group and jump without the other six. Love it or hate it, Football is King. Personally, as a KU supporter, where Basketball is King, I hate it.

Bob Bailey 5 years, 11 months ago

They are all looking the wrong way! Take your pick, but go SE from Cinti to Fla.

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