Still no guarantees Big 12 will last

June 20, 2010


The Big 12 gained a reprieve this week.

Will it be a new lease on life for the 15-year-old conference? Or did it merely postpone the inevitable?

Five or 10 years from now, will it still be sending teams to BCS title games and NCAA Final Fours? Or could it face a similar raid in the future?

Commissioner Dan Beebe likened the conference’s rebirth to “kind of like renewing the vows.”

As Beebe observed, many people throughout the country like the idea of an intact Big 12 and the denial of the first superconference.

Added Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione: “I think we’re strong and this is being considered a means to keep us strong in the future.”

But that future still looks shaky to some.

“It’s definitely on life support,” said B. David Ridpath, an assistant professor at Ohio University’s Center for Sports Administration. “It came out of a coma and is still attached to a machine.

“I think everybody linking arms is one thing. But there are still going to be one or two schools that are attractive. There’s going to be too much opportunity for teams to move.”

Undeniably, the conference suffered a hit. The exit of Nebraska (Big Ten) and Colorado (Pac-10), probably both after the 2010-11 season, robbed the conference of the two North Division schools with the greatest football traditions.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the Big 12’s challenges:

The college landscape. The drive for expansion by the Big Ten and then an aggressive Pac-10 put the Big 12 at risk. For now, expansion seems to have hit a lull.

“I think it has settled down for now, but I don’t think the idea of the superconference has gone away,” Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott told 1280-AM in Salt Lake City. “It was a very compelling vision. At some point in time, it will crop up again.”

With teams like Texas, Texas A&M; and Oklahoma, the Big 12 has schools that proved attractive to other conferences.

Allegiances. With the wanderlust exhibited by several schools, loyalty could be a key concern. Texas President Bill Powers Jr. seemed to embrace the honor system.

Infighting. Fault lines emerged during the process.

Beebe pledged to enforce unity while saying he wasn’t worried.

“We had a board of directors call (Friday), and I never felt such an energy and appreciation for each other,” Beebe said. “I think there’s a cohesion we haven’t seen before.”

The championship game. With 10 teams, the Big 12 will be unable to hold a football championship game without an NCAA waiver. For now, Big 12 football coaches love the idea of a regular season without a title game roadblock.

Yet imagine the fallout if a Big 12 team cruises through the regular season, then gets leap-frogged in the BCS standings by a Big Ten or SEC team on the strength of an epic title game win.

The best argument for the league might be recent events. The last several weeks brought conference members face-to-face with uncertainty.

“Surreal,” said Castiglione, who took calls about the situation between innings of his children’s baseball games. “It was moving at warp speed.”

Some schools were faced with the potential challenge of new conferences while parting ways with some traditional rivals. They were the lucky ones.

Five schools scrambled to possibly preserve a conference while faced with a significant loss of status if the Big 12 dissolved. Among them: Baylor, fresh from great runs in the NCAA Tourney by its men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“We really rode the emotional rollercoaster through the last couple of weeks,” said Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw, who worked closely with new school president Ken Starr. “There were moments of encouragement, but there were also moments of despair. I liken the whole process to a football coaching search on steroids.”


KEITHMILES05 8 years ago

Well, the remaining 9 schools sold their souls to Texas and it was all about money. When Texas decides to bolt there ain't a damn thing the other 9 sissies can do. Talk about being weak and shallow.

anon1958 8 years ago

Its not the Big 12, its the the Big Texas Conference. Hopefully it wont last.

jhokfan 8 years ago

Will the people outside the conference who intervened on behalf of the Big 12 do it again if another conference attempts to expand beyond 12? If Delaney's greed and recklessness which caused all this is not held in check then we are not sitting on solid ground. If those who intervened do so again then the Big 12 can last.

mwilliam 8 years ago

There is no need to be hating on Texas, Nebraska is the one that decided to leave and it is my belief, regardless of what he says, Tom Osborne was jealous of Texas' success and the lack of success that Nebraska has been having. Sure, it's about the money, unfortunately, just about everything in America is about the money; we are in a capitalist society that cherishes the green. The last figures available regarding revenues brought in by football for Big 12 schools is 2008, guess who brought in the most, naturally, it was Texas at $88.7 million which was the highest in the country, about $20 million more than second place Ohio St. Kansas pulled in a whopping $17.7 million for the same time period. Even though Kansas had total athletic revenue greater than three of the teams that were in the mix to move, the bottom line is what can you generate on the football field? I am a Jayhawk through and through and I'm not trying to be an apologist for Texas but with that kind of money they can do about anything they want. This is a time for Beebe to become aggressive and truly save the Big 12 by making some aggressive moves to ensure we keep what we have and that we are in a position of strength to attract a couple of other teams that will help make the league stronger and more profitable. That means attracting two, three, four...teams that have strong football programs with a large potential TV audience.

Martin Shupert 8 years ago

The entire conference should look around for another conference to join with and become their own super conference. Imagine the Big Ten and Big Twelve getting together... a schedule could be put together where they play two or three inter-division games which are matched according to their RPI. Otherwise, they stick with playing in their divisions (the old Big 12 and Big 10). In other words, at the end of each season, not only have a conference championship game, but match up both second place teams, both third place, and so on... Interesting stuff. A team could claim the divisional championship in both basketball and football, but also play for the conference championship. We'd have great TV games such as Texas vs Ohio State, Michigan vs Nebraska, even Kansas State vs Michigan State or Iowa vs Iowa State would be interesting. Basketball, likewise, would give us Michigan State vs Kansas, Indiana vs Texas, Baylor vs Ohio State... and the Big Ten and Big Twelve fit so well together... I do wish someone was working on this possibility

Gregory Newman 8 years ago

Its real simple quick cupcakin the schedule. Do your 9 regular conference games. One each of SEC, PAC 10, ACC and Big ten. Then the conference RPI goes off the chain with 500% wins. If you're a coach that you professed to be or crying about conference bias man up. Put your pocket where your mouth is then the networks will look at the other conferences with disdain.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years ago

Why do we need a conference at all? Just have all the various teams play each other.

So, the football team and the baseball team could play a three-game series. One baseball, one football, and if necessary pick a deciding, third event. I think synchronized swimming would be a fan favorite.

Or the men's and women's basketball teams could play two b-ball games against each other, and for a tie-breaker, they could do a gymnastic event, likely the uneven parallel bars.

When the women's soccer team squares off against the men's golf team, for tie-breakers I would fully expect that they would gravitate towards events involving silly walks.

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