Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Why the Big 12 is not likely to expand

I could be wrong — I mean it’s been known to happen — but I really don’t think the Big 12 athletic honchos who are meeting this week in Irving will agree on a plan to expand. For one thing, it takes eight positive votes from the 10 conference schools to agree on anything and I see three "no" votes all the way down here, 225 miles south of Irving.

Texas doesn’t need nor does it desire expansion. For one thing, school officials believe the only legitimate expansion candidate on the horizon is BYU, but any expansion plan would require the addition of two schools. Unless a Power Five conference school could be convinced to join the Big 12 — and nobody sees that happening — there are no two additions that would satisfy Texas. In addition, any school seeking admission to the conference, other than BYU, which also has its own TV network, will insist Texas give up its Longhorn Network and the only way that will ever happen is if Texas leaves the conference for, say, the Big 10.

TCU is deeply indebted to Texas for shepherding (some may say "ramming through") that school’s membership in the Big 12 and, thus, will vote the way Texas does. Texas Tech, being the only other state school in Texas in the Big 12, also always aligns itself with the school in Austin.

So, at the most, I only see seven possible votes for expansion and that’s one short.

Not only that, even if an expansion vote managed to win eight votes, I can’t see the 10 Big 12 schools coming to an agreement on which schools to add. Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State are not going to want to add a BYU; they would prefer a football program like Memphis, a team they believe would be more competitive with them. I have also been told there’s long-standing bad blood between Baylor and BYU and West Virginia certainly isn’t going to approve adding a school that’s 1,900 miles away. West Virginia would only vote in favor of Cincinnati and Memphis, perhaps Connecticut. But UConn is going to be a travel budget-buster for the majority of Big 12 schools and Oklahoma and Texas will be hard-pressed to see any advantages whatsoever in adding any of those three institutions.

Too many Big 12 schools like to recruit in the Houston area, so I doubt if anyone will want to approve UH’s membership into the conference. The argument for Houston is a supposedly huge television market, but if that was so lucrative, why hasn’t some other Power 5 conference’s made overtures to UH? And I’ve heard the two Oklahoma schools are dead set against adding any other conference member from Texas.

All this talk about expansion is really wrong-headed to begin with. The conference apparently received a report from some marketing guru that said it had a 4.5 percent better chance of getting one of its teams into the college playoffs if it had a conference championship game. Wow! 4.5 percent. That doesn’t seem like an overwhelming number to me. But the argument is the only way to have a legitimate conference championship game is in a league with at least 12 teams divided into two divisions. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again here: What will give Big 12 Conference teams greater than a 4.5 percent chance is simply to schedule stronger out-of-conference opponents. If strength of schedule counts — and we all know that it does — why diminish your strength of schedule by adding weaker teams into the conference?

No comments: