Mesa Legend

How the Big 12 Conference Was A Waste of Time

Christopher Jones
Mesa Legend

Photo Chris JonesAbout a dozen people in a conference room waiting for a phone call from the Big 12 conference. More specifically Bob Bosely, the commissioner. In fact a couple of groups of people are waiting. Memphis, Houston, Arkansas State, Boise State, BYU, Cincinatti, Colorado State, East Carolina, New Mexico, Rice, San Diego State, University Pittsburgh, Southern Methodist University, Temple, Tulane, University of Central Florida, University of Connecticut, University of Las Vegas, University Southern Florida, and Air Force. In all the Big 12 has 15 states and the government (kind of) waiting for their action.

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Courtesy of Josh Hallett

On the morning of October 17 the Big 12 made their decision. There was no celebration and no dream admission to a “power five’ conference waiting. Because their decision was to not make one at all. The president and Oklahoma President David Boren claimed the move was more of a celebration of the current conference. “I think that this was really not a decision not to expand, but this was an endorsement and a reinvestment in the strength of the 10 that we have,” Bowlsby said. Yet Boren was the person who came up with the campaign expansion and a TV network and the return of a football title game by calling the conference “psychologically disadvantaged” in June 2015 after the TCU Horned Frogs had were snubbed out of the college football playoffs during the 2014 season in part because of a lack of exposure a network provides, and most importantly because with the current format of the Big 12 there is no conference champion.

Hard to imagine they have much chance of having a for sure playoff contender with anything short of an undefeated team, but Boren also said during a press conference, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We feel a lot of confidence that we have in the conference. That contributed to our decision not to further expand at this point.” Only it is broke, very much so. When your name says one thing and you’re actually another something is very wrong actually in every case. Doing an outlandish search and turning into a sweepstakes only to call it off after three months is not an “endorsement” of the conference it is a slap in the face to those 15 states and the government (kind of). It’s showing that you realize the problem and once you realized how much work went into solving it you called it quits. There was an unbelievable upside with minimal risk if the conference had properly vetted each team.

ESPN and Fox had opposed expansion because of the pro rata clause in the TV contract. For each additional school added, the Big 12 would have gotten a payment of about $25 million annually. Presuming new members would have been given far less than full shares, the current members could have made an additional $3 million to $4 million in the first year.Among those upset by the Big 12 decision was Tilman Fettita, the chairman of Houston’s board of regents “We know the University of Houston is qualified from an academic and athletic standpoint,” Fettita told Houston’s Fox 26. “I’m just shocked that we went through this entire process and nothing happened.”Since the Big 12 now will stay at ten members it has planned to introduce a title game in the 2017 season.

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