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It’s Time For Big 12 Realignment Roulette

The Big 12 Board of Directors is meeting today and realignment is the major topic of discussion.

Pitt v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Big 12 Board of Directors are meeting in Dallas today and fans from Provo, Utah to Storrs, Connecticut will be hanging on every word that will come out of a 5:30 press conference.

That’s because the nine men and one woman, Presidents or Chancellors of the 10 member Universities, are discussing how many - if any - of 11 candidates (Houston, Rice, SMU, Cincinnati, BYU, Air Force, Colorado State, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida and Tulane) should be added to the conference.

Two Universities (Baylor, Kansas State) have interim presidents while one (Texas Tech) has only been on the job since July.

The whole “will they or won’t they expand” circus has created a clown show that has been the joke of college football for some time.

Maybe the Big 12 will take 2 new members.

Maybe the Big 12 will table any expansion until after this season.

Maybe they will decide to stay at 10.

Here is what I think will happen. First this expansion is a money grab, pure and simple. There are no teams out there that make the conference more attractive to the networks in the long run.





This is a cynical attempt to squeeze more money out of our network partners, while hoping Texas, Oklahoma and maybe Kansas don’t bolt for another decade. Our network partners (ESPN & FOX) see this move for what it is and are not happy about it.

As for expansion candidates.

BYU? National name with absolutely no pop when it comes to ratings. Houston? another Texas team in a league whose biggest problem right now is that 70% of the conference’s fan base lives in one state?

“But Houston is winning, and it will help stem the SEC Tide overwhelming our state!”

Uh, no. First of all, the programs in the Big 12 that do not currently reside in the Lone Star State aren’t particularly enthusiastic about letting yet another local program cut into their Big 12 sales pitch here in Texas.

Secondly the SEC was "winning" the Houston market before the Ags joined. You know why? Their contract with CBS. The SEC premier games are on over-the-air. And it isn’t a big a threat as some think.

Dig a little deeper into last year's ratings in Houston, the #8 TV market in the nation. Alabama was a big draw. There were 83 college football games that pulled a 2.0 rating or better in Houston. Alabama played in 10 of them. Texas played in 9. LSU and Notre Dame 8. Baylor, Houston and OU showed up in 7 of the games.

For the 83 games, 24 included SEC teams, 20 included Big 12 teams.

"But wait," you say, "Houston and Cincy are in a crappy league, put them in a power league and watch them get better ratings."

Sure. When they play Texas or Oklahoma.

Houston vs. Kansas St.? Cincinnati vs. Oklahoma St.?

Not so much.

FOX President Eric Shanks came out today and said that expansion is not a good idea as far as they are concerned.

Shanks: “We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference. We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference. Who knows where expansion is going to go. Reading the smoke signals, [expansion talk has] cooled off. I don’t know why. We’re still in discussions with them. We still have a long way to go in the deal. We’ll work through it the best way that we can."

When one of the two networks paying your bills fires a warning shot on the day you are meeting to talk expansion, what do you think the conference will decide ?

Yeah, me too.