The Big 12 Athletic Directors met on Tuesday in Dallas, and decided they will be aggressive in offering new members to reverse the trend of losing teams to other conferences. Although they don’t have the actual authority to make the call without the presidents, rest assured the agenda was set.
In just a little over a year the floundering conference, under the feeble watch of Commissioner Dan Beebe, has lost Nebraska to the Big Ten, Colorado to the Pac 12 and will lose Texas A&M to the SEC after this year.
Beebe has been fired and temporarily replaced by a well respected college football name in Chuck Neinas, but the conference needs to reverse the feeling both nationally and locally that it’s on its last legs.
Before the conference can focus on additions to the league, the first order of business today was to lock in Missouri. There has been talk this week, mostly from one Kansas City media member, that the Tigers had interest from the SEC. However, none of our sources who cover the SEC could ever verify that Mizzou had any offers (or even serious flirtation) from the SEC. It’s well known that the Tigers have dreams of the Big Ten, but that’s not going to happen…at least not anytime soon. So the Tigers are in for 5-6 years remaining on the conference TV package.
In fact none of the remaining nine schools are likely to leave the conference now, as they either won’t have a better offer (in the cases of seven schools) or other conferences won’t let Texas bring the entire Longhorn Network…Oklahoma has a similar network planned for 2013, and other conferences simply don’t want to upset the apple cart by inviting those teams.
Word from Dallas today is that schools like BYU, Louisville, West Virginia, USF and Cincinnati were talked about as future invitees, but no official offers have been made. Of course that doesn’t mean a lot of third party flirting hasn’t happened though, and we understand through various Big 12 official sources that some form of offer has been made to both Cougars and Cardinals, with others possibly coming after word from those two teams.
With nine current teams, the Big 12 wants to go to ten in 2012-13 with independent BYU, although the Cougars would have some issues. They not only have game contracts to buyout, but they also have locked in bowl games they’d have to get out of. While fans and the athletic department seem unified to go to the Big 12, there is some dissention among the board and the LDS Church, who seem to like the idea of independence.
There were concerns expressed by several Big 12 members about the BYU policies of no Sunday games and the older ages of players, due to LDS missions. However, those problems seem to have been put to rest, and if an official offer hasn’t been made yet, expect it to happen within a few days to a week.
With a shrinking number of top schools to add to the membership, the Big East seems right for the picking, and Louisville, West Virginia, USF and Cincinnati are the schools we’re hearing to eventually take the Big 12 to 14 members, after the addition of BYU. However, the Big East has shown in the cases of Pitt and Syracuse that they will hold them to their contract buyouts and will not let them go to another conference for two seasons.
The crystal ball of conference realignment is never clear, but in this case it would not surprise us at all if BYU joined the Big 12 next season, and the four Big East schools two years down the road.