Irving, Texas Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe on Tuesday made public the joke that so many people around the country made privately during the weeks that followed this summer’s conference realignment talks.
“I’m in communication with (Big Ten) Commissioner Jim Delany now about a swap,” said Beebe, asked if the Big 12 would change its name at the conclusion of the season. “That was a joke.”
Speaking at what would have been a very different scene had the demise of the Big 12 become a reality, Beebe carried himself with pride and confidence when discussing where the Big 12 is headed.
“There’s a great deal of excitement about the future of the Big 12,” Beebe said. “There’s a renewed sense of commitment, a new sense of belonging and a greater appreciation for each other.”
There’s also a lot of work to do.
Included among the topics Beebe addressed at Big 12 media days Tuesday were: the fact that the league’s revenue structure actually remained the same; that Colorado’s departure strategy should be clearer sometime this fall; that he would spend the next eight to nine months exploring a potential name change and the impact and importance of the Big 12 brand; and the fact that, at this point, it does not appear that the conference will seek to host a football championship game once the membership dips to 10.
Beebe still made sure to point out that the league still had a long way to go before things could be considered back to normal.
The Big 12 commissioner spoke for about an hour, fielding questions of all varieties. Some offered subtle praise for the role Beebe played in keeping the conference together. Others challenged the commissioner to provide assurance that the fiasco the league endured this summer would not happen again. Beebe was happy to oblige on both counts.
“These decisions were made for the long term,” Beebe said. “And people who expressed the decisions said that. They said it to all of you, they said it to us, they said it to each other. So I’m not sure what else we need to do. I guess we could get all the athletics directors and board members up here and sing ‘Kumbaya,’ and maybe that would help some of you. I’m not sure that’s going to happen until we just observe it for a few years. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
One of the more well documented concerns that emerged from the conference realignment talks was the lack of some kind of a contract signed by the 10 remaining Big 12 schools stating their loyalty to the conference. Beebe said such a contract was not necessary. Several Big 12 football coaches in Dallas this week agreed.
“Where I’m from, verbally works for me,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “If I tell you I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. You may not have to shake my hand.”