Big 12 Presidents playing a foolish game

Since the Big 12 decision regarding expansion will ultimately be made at the Presidential level, the inclination is to allow some leeway in judgement. Then again, look at what we are seeing every day in our U.S. Presidential campaign.

On the surface, and just below it as well, it would be hard to conduct a more screwed up process than the one the Big 12 is conducting on its expansion/no expansion decision.

It would be easy to blame this on Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, but he is only acting on the wishes of his Presidents and Chancellors and they CLEARLY have no idea how to do this.

"I have seen a lot of things happen in this league,' said one official from a Big 12 school, "but I have never seen anything like this.''[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The latest media buzz is that the Big 12 is considering adding two schools from a list which has been pared from 18 to 12.

Bowlsby and the Big 12 office came up with an original list of schools they thought met the criteria the Big 12 says it wants. Those schools have already been identified and include Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Houston, Connecticut, Central Florida, South Florida and Memphis. It should be said Memphis was always close to the cut list and now, according to a published report, has also been eliminated.

Sources within the Big 12 tell us BYU, which is also dealing with a variety of social issues, is very close to being eliminated as well, with its only consideration being as a football only member. And even that is shaky.

If this were just an athletic decision, most of the work could have been completed. But the Big 12 Presidents, many who do not inform their own athletic directors of what is going on at the meetings, decided they wanted to make it more inclusive. They gave Bowlsby a list of 18 to 20 schools.

The media got hold of it and it became a big story.

The schools ranged from San Diego State to East Carolina, from Nevada-Las Vegas to Temple, from Air Force to Tulane, from Colorado State to Rice. Someone probably suggested the Big 12 needed to have a more academic look, so Rice was added. Some one may have suggested a return to the old Southwest Conference wouldn't be bad, so Southern Methodist became part of a mix which would have also included Texas Christian, Texas Tech, Texas and presumably Houston AND Rice.

Bowlsby held out for sanity, hoping that when the final interviews began the list would be smaller, rather than larger.

Sorry, that didn't fly with the Presidents. They wanted more inclusion, Cut the list, but cut it from 18 to 12.

Some media outlets proudly announced this, making it clear it wasn't a smaller total.

Now here's where it gets even more duplicitous. More than one person familiar with the process has said that six of those schools have NO CHANCE of being selected, but they were invited because, well, who knows why the were invited?

The reality is the invitation list of 12 schools is two-tiered. There is an original group of schools who will come to Dallas and be seriously considered . The other six, who will spend time and money preparing presentations, will also come and make their pitch.

Again, those schools have no chance of being added, yet in the politically correct and "good old boy" world of Big 12 Presidents, they want everyone to feel good about the process.

Rice, Colorado State, SMU, Temple?

What they have created is the opposite of that. And when it comes down to making a final decision in mid October, the Big 12 Presidents might decide to do absolutely nothing and remain at 10 schools.

And if that happens, all that time and effort spent by Bowlsby and his staff and by school officials from around the country will have been wasted.

And that is flat out wrong.

Early in my journalistic career when I was still a Jersey guy in New Jersey, I covered the 1973 New York Knicks--the last Knicks team to win an NBA title.

One of the Knick beat writers was Pete Alfano, who then worked at Newsday and remains one of the funniest, most talented writers I have known in more than 40 years in this business. He was sitting with a group of other writers and everyone was telling stories.

One newcomer, never known for his sense of humor, told a story, which he thought had a punch line, which was met with silence.

Alfano looked at the writer and put his hand on his shoulder and said simply, said, ""Let the funny people be funny.''

The point of this is clear. The Big 12 Presidents need to let the people running the Big 12 conference do their job, which doesn't include this joke that is becoming Big 12 expansion.[/membership]

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