Just when we thought the conference was dead set against expansion, University of Oklahoma President David Boren flipped everything on its head. On Wednesday he spoke out in favor of expanding the Big 12 back to 12 teams, and it may be more feasible that we’ve been lead to believe.
“I think it’s something we should strive for while we have the time, stability, all of that to look and be choosy,” Boren said via the Oklahoman. “[We] can be very selective about who we want to add. It would have to add value to the conference. I think we should.”
And just like that, we get to keep talking conference expansion! We’ll delve into who would be a good fit for the Big 12, and whether or not the conference really needs to expand over the next few days, but for now we’ll focus on President Boren’s comments. He makes a good point. Use the conference’s newly found stability to find the right two teams, instead of being forced to make rash decisions in the future should it come to it.
“How many years can this go on?” Boren said. “Finally, it just gets to be really debilitating. I worry about that. That’s something I just worry about long-term about the conference, not short term.”
I’m not quite sure what there is to worry about. The biggest factor to expand or not it financial stability, something the Big 12 now has in spades thanks to the TV contracts. Speaking of TV money tough, Boren didn’t miss an opportunity to throw a little shade on the Longhorn Network.
“The elephant in the room remains the network south of us that has struggled and has in a way as long as it’s there,” Boren said. “And we have done quite well with our network and if anything ever changed, it has value to it which we see. But someday, maybe we’ll get past that other problem as well. It’s a problem.”
The decision to expand the conference is almost entirely about money, and the biggest reason not to has always been that if the Big 12 were to add two more schools, members would lose money. We were told that even though the contracts call for the pie to get larger with more members, everyone’s share would actually be smaller than it is now.
However, President Boren dropped a bomb by dispelling that notion.
“The contract says that our main television contract … if we grow from 10 to 11 or 11 to 12, their payments to us grow proportionally,” Boren said. “So everybody’s share stays the same. If it’s ‘X’ dollars, it stays ‘X’ dollars.
“It’s not total because there’s some smaller—much smaller—amounts of money around the edges but if you can find the right people, it should be additive even though it’s split 12 ways instead of 10.”
That’s quite a bit different from what we’ve been told in the past. Maybe expansion is more viable than we thought. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby responded to Boren’s comments Wednesday afternoon.
“We talk about membership at every meeting,” Bowlsby said. “I think our presidents individually have their own opinions on things. President Boren expressed his today.
“I have not got the indication that the majority of our presidents feel that way. I get the feeling that nothing has changed since we last discussed it.”
Bowlsby isn’t exactly denying that members wouldn’t lose money with expansion , but it would seem the rest of the conference isn’t as keen on it as Boren is.
“At some point, the majority may represent the position that we should get bigger. I have not heard at this point that they feel that way.”
We’ll be talking about his more in the days to come, but let us know what you think. Should the Big 12 expand? With a few options to choose from, who would you like to see join?