The Big 12’s Decision Not to Expand, Explained
By: Adam Bross
Announced yesterday was the formal decision of the Big 12 conference to remain at 10 teams which, naturally, leaves them two teams shy of the ACC and Pac-12 AND four teams shy of the numbers in the SEC and Big Ten (often argued as the best conferences in the league).
While these numbers mean very little in the grand scheme of things, it is of note that the Big Ten and SEC expanded to increase market shares and revenue for conference sharing. Rutgers and Maryland add very little value as competitive universities (even if Maryland brings some basketball prestige), but it did offer the Washington and New York markets to the Big Fourteen while also making the Big Ten network available to recruits in flourishing Maryland, New Jersey, and New York areas. Coincidentally, the SEX-iest Conference in America ushered in a school from Texas (arguably the most fertile recruiting base in high school football) and Missouri allowed entrance into the St. Louis and Chicago areas.
Listen, the number of schools means very little, but the Big 12 consists of four schools from Texas, two from Oklahoma, two from Kansas, West Virginia, and Iowa State. Outside of Texas, the conference manages to hit zero top-ten pipeline states with local teams. Deals with ESPN and Fox keep the teams on the forefront of television, but hardly any team lacks national coverage every-so-often. The Big Ten hits markets weekly with the Big Ten network and has bigger, better connections with ESPN and ABC. The Big 12 connect compete in the localized markets of Florida, California, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Georgia, Illinois, and Alabama when they have no presence in the states. It’s more than just watching games on television or in a team’s own stadium. Recruits feel the hype when Ohio State rolls into New Jersey or Alabama is in Texas. College Gameday hasn’t visited a Big-12 site yet this season and likely won’t unless Baylor and West Virginia are undefeated when they play.
I understand defending “The Model” or “Riding for the Brand”, but the Big-12 is over-hyping its round-robin style. Ohio State plays Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska this season. Do we really need the Buckeyes to play Purdue, Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois this season? Absolutely not. Divisions clean up the need for a round robin. If Michigan wins the Big Fourteen East, do we need to watch them play Purdue…or will just playing Nebraska/Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game suffice? If Oklahoma beats down West Virginia and Baylor, who cares if they missed Iowa State one year; furthermore, if West Virginia beats out Oklahoma in a Big 12 North division, why do we need to see Big 12 south champ Baylor play the Sooners? Can we just be happy knowing that even if Baylor did not play both West Virginia and Oklahoma that beating just WVU in the title game means something?
Bob Bowlsby is a clown. After watching every word he has said in his lifetime and his incessant belief in this round robin system, I refuse to believe he understands what happens in the world. Does he realize that a 10-2 Oklahoma is never going to make the playoff over 11-1 Michigan or Ohio State? Even the committee should understand that beating 9 Big 12 teams hardly makes Oklahoma worthy of a spot and one lone loss in The Game shouldn’t derail a season. It’s the fatal flaw of conferences that Oklahoma even garnered a spot over Ohio State last season when the Bucks lost to hmmm…Michigan State which looks a little better in EVERY SINGLE REGARD than losing to Texas. Bowlsby is the reason why the playoff system still fails and why America will never be right until the playoff is decided by one blogger sitting in a room watching college football for endless hours…my starting offer is a measly $500,000, NCAA. Consider it.
I promised you more than incessant ramblings of a madman when it came to this decision, but shit, I hardly comprehend how this decision is defensible. The jargon spat forth from Bowlsby makes me more liable to knock the Big 12 from power conference status than admit non-expansion was the correct way to go. His unfathomable explanation which fails to incorporate any financial, recruiting, viability, parody, exposure, or football playoff benefits only shepherds me toward the belief expansion was a necessity for the Big 12 at this time. In a dying conference whose best team cannot beat Houston, most prestigious program can’t break .500 in conference or make a bowl game known by more than a sponsor, and a horde of second tier names; you have to do more than sit with thumbs up your arses and say, “But yeah, no we love exactly how our conference works” because “No, yeah Texas and Oklahoma love having their playoff chances mashed into fine powder with one out-of-conference loss; they’ll never leave”.
Winners from the Big-12’s Decision
- Every Other Power Conference – The Big 12 could have dipped into the south with Memphis, the midwest with Cincinnati, the northeast with Connecticut, or the west coast with San Diego State, but currently the schools still reside in the dust bowl and well I guess West Virginia pumps out 1 or 2 ESPN 300 recruits a season. The rest of the country watched its assets and fertile grounds stay clean of Big-12 paws as the conference’s schools will be forced to continue recruiting in out-of-market states for now.
- Texas – Despite the Longhorns struggles, the Big-12’s lack of expansion leaves them the unquestioned boss in the conference. Needing to keep Texas happy might have kept expansion from happening if Bowlsby and his cronies ever get around to legitimate explanations, but the Longhorns cannot have the Big-12 suddenly viable and surviving if they decide to up and leave. The lack of on-field production likely has Bowlsby and company believing Texas is like a very handicapped kidnapper and the Stockholm Syndrome felt by the rest of the conference might be weary thin until the Horns on kingpins on the gridiron once more.
- Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and West Virginia – For other reasons, these four teams are ecstatic a combination such as Cincinnati and Memphis weren’t voted as conference mates because it might have left them in a north division without Texas, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Christian, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State….I.E. every remaining conference champion or co-conference champion since 2004 aside from Kansas State’s 2012 season. Now, these teams still have annual games with the conference’s bigger dogs and half of those (roughly) played at home.
Losers (the biggest…cannot name all 11 schools)
- Cincinnati – I’m from this city and I must say the excitement surrounding Big 12 expansion finally seemed to assuage the loss of the Big East. Now, the university is forced to retreat into the American Conference shell and raise the banner of “THERE ARE SIX POWER CONFERENCES” other members of the AAC have been drumming to all season. UC was, indubitably, the best option for Big 12 expansion based on results, prestige, academics, investments made, and location. It would have backed the Big 12 into Ohio State’s yard and, more importantly for myself and the state, suddenly made UC a viable second option for recruits and national television. Cincinnati could fancy itself the biggest of the little boys, but that’s hardly what anyone associated or invested in the university wants. From experience, UC is investing and exploring in ways to better itself at a pace far superior to my Alma Mater Ohio State or any other school on my Facebook feed. The Bearcats and their faithful believe they can become on par with any of the public universities in the country in any facet and expansion into the Big 12 would have aided in reaching that goal from an athletic standpoint, obviously, but even in other ways as well. The Bearcats will never fade away from the stage, but in the American Conference and with seasons such as the one they are now mired in, they’ll never find the spotlight either.
- Houston – Tom Herman might love Houston and everything it is doing for him and itself, but the Cougars’ dream of Herman sticking around seem idealistic at best considering there are bigger, better, more attractive, and high-paying options on the table almost annually for the most sought after Group of Five coach on the market. Herman might never scamper to Texas or Oklahoma, but if Louisiana State, USC, or Oregon came calling; Houston would be hard pressed to match the financial, recruiting, and living benefits offered from any of those three places. Herman will bolt, I find it inevitable, as long as he coaches a program without hope of reaching the playoff.
- Baylor, Texas Christian, West Virginia, Oklahoma State – Yes, West Virginia is a winner and a loser. From a competitive standpoint, the Mountaineers are loving knowing the Texas and Oklahoma schools are still coming to Morgantown bi-annually with WVU getting the chance to play on those hallowed grounds each year, but these three teams now face the awful realization that lack of gained revenue and financial opportunities means their head coaches are now bait for the higher paying jobs in the SEC, Pac-12, and Big Ten. Sure, right now everyone seems content, but imagine Gary Patterson if LSU comes calling or Dana Holgorsen if Southern Cal wants an offensive guru. The Big 12 might not want to believe it, but outside of Oklahoma and Texas everything here is a stepping stone job to tiers A and B. Yes, all four of these are good jobs, but they aren’t great jobs like Louisiana State, Oregon, Oklahoma, or Penn State and they certainly aren’t elite jobs like Texas, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, or Southern Cal.
- Everyone – Everyone is an idiot because everyone caused this to not happen. No matter who you are, the Big 12 did not expand so you didn’t do enough to make sure the Big 12 did expand. Now we all have to sit here and watch Bob Bowlsby drivel away about circular songbirds and Texas with a Dollar Sign.