Four months ago, Big 12 Conference Commissioner, with the blessing of the conference presidents and athletic directors, stated that it was time to expand. Well, after four months of propping up schools, interviews, and soul searching, its four-month expansion exploration ended without ONE SINGLE VOTE cast for any school.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Oklahoma president David Boren, the acting chairman of the Big 12 board, announced the conference wouldn’t expand Monday.
The stated that they are just fine with the 10 teams that they have. It also officially ended what turned out to be a colossal waste of a lengthy process that involved the consideration of more than 20 schools and on-site interviews of 11 finalists.
Now, the Big 12 feels that a round robin format, a 10-team league and a misleading name is the right way to go.
However, what they did to the schools under consideration for their “expansion” bordered on distasteful. The Big 12 completely misled Houston, Connecticut, BYU and Cincinnati, four programs that were hoping to finally break through into a coveted Power Five slot after near misses in the past. The Big 12 also completely misled UCF, South Florida, Colorado State, SMU, Tulane and Air Force, programs that spent months upon months of planning and effort just for that one big chance at joining the big time.
Commissioner Bowlsby, Boren, and the whole lot of them owe apologies to every single school, as it just seemed that this whole ordeal was a complete and total farce, a tragicomedy of Shakespearean proportions. The Big 12 conference conducted this expansion like “The Dating Game”, and Bowlsby played the part of Jim Lange.
They reviewed all the school’s materials that they tirelessly put together. They flirted with these prospective schools via phone calls, and even met with some in person as some sort of “first date”. Yet, after all this, the conference decided the prospective candidates, which made up of more than 15 percent of the entire 128-school FBS lineup, weren’t “attractive” enough.
It’s not as if the Big 12 was under any mandate to expand. The conference was well within its rights to opt to stay at 10 teams.
However, after the debacle with TCU and Baylor from a couple of years ago, and the issues that certain schools are having off the field, the Big 12 is currently floundering with both a lack of football production and respect nationally. But a lack of vote signals the entire process meant nothing.
As for the jilted schools, they did not hide their disappointment at the Big 12’s decision. They said all the right things, as to not “poke the bear” if expansion were ever to come up again, but you could sense the seething and foaming at the mouth from these programs. Houston and BYU, the two programs that were considered the heavy favorites, maintained that they belong in a Power Five conference.
UConn, one of the dark horses from the beginning, went even further and released its expansion plan for everyone to see.
Bowlsby admitted Monday that without change the conference will be “substantially behind” other Power Five conferences a decade from now if it doesn’t make changes soon. After these four long months of schools jockeying for position to make it to the big time, they just couldn’t pull the trigger.
Yet, Boren and Bowlsby stated that this process didn’t waste anyone’s time, and this could be revisited down the road.
Let’s get something straight here. You romanced programs, you cajoled them into thinking that they can hit the lottery, and then pull the rug out from underneath them, and you say this can be revisited at a later time??? Well, that time was now, and you blew it.
These schools may get picked up by other power five conferences in the ever evolving world of expansion, and the Big 12 will once again be left holding the bag.