Note to Big 12: Beware of the Big Ten

The week That Was (A look at the world of College Football)

I haven't found any plan, or anything which suggests something is in the works.

But then I look at the name of Jim Delany, the most powerful man in college athletics, and a man who always has a plan in his pocket or in his head and I say: Why not?

With the Big 12 facing a "What do we do if we pass on BYU and can't get Houston (more about that below), there appears to be an opening for the Big Ten and its ever forward thinking commissioner.

Delany's master plan of diving into the South may have been thwarted by the Atlantic Coast Conference wrapping up its schools for the next 20 years, but the Big 12 is much more vulnerable.

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And the prize jewels of the Big 12 are the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. Resolving the issue of the Longhorn Network complicates the process, but any deal can be made with the right money offer and the Big Ten has the money.

Word has it the Big Ten has more than enough money to match the $15 million a year being generated by the Longhorn network. In this case, money does talk and Texas will listen to the right deal.

So why wouldn't Delany's final major act as commissioner be to make the Big Ten the first Super Conference 16 team conference? A four or five 16 school Super Conference has been discussed for years.

Why wouldn't Delany reach out to Oklahoma and Texas or if Oklahoma is joined at the hip with Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas?

Some people suggest that Delany, for all of his ambition, does not want to destroy conferences, so he will hold off on making a move to the Big 12. Others say that the Big 10 doesn't want to be the Big 16.

But what if thie Big 12 stays at 10? And what if Texas is just sitting there, waiting for someone to at least call?

The Big 12's expansion move is dictated by a fear of falling behind the other Power 5 conferences in television revenue. The problem is that the inventory to expand is not very valuable. And there is no long term deal in place.

Added to the uncertainty is that this deal is being done at the Presidential level. Athletic considerations are only part of the equation despite what looks to be a strictly football motivated move.

The final deal will be made well above the coach and athletic director level, which is probably why there are now published reports stating that the Big 12 may talk to as many as 16 schools.

Realistically, the choices would appear to be to stay at 10 or move to 12. Delaying any move for a year would also be dangerous. There are sharks (the Big Ten) in the water and they have the scent of blood.

By staying at 10 teams or delaying on expanding to 12 or 14 schools, the Big 12 is leaving itself open to predators. The SEC could move in invite Oklahoma and Oklahoma State which would give it a solid Southwest-base of Arkansas, Texas &M Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

But there seems to be no inclination by the SEC to do that--at this time.

Delany has publicly shown no such inclination as well. But he is... Jim Delany. He always has a master plan to get bigger and better. The only setback Delany has suffered was the failure to bring Notre Dame into the fold.

The Irish are more committed to the ACC than any other conference and Delany--being a classic Jersey guy--is not going to knock on any doors in South Bend.

But Austin, Texas, Lawrence, Kansas or Norman, Oklahoma are a different matter.

The odds are against this happening. But the longer the Big 12 maintains the status quo and the longer that schools such as Texas and Oklahoma are part of a conference that can't settle on which direction it wants to move, the longer Delany has to simply hit the send button on a master plan which would seal the Big Ten's status as the most Super of the Super Conferences in overall influence.


If BYU had the clout of say an Alabama or a Notre Dame or even a Texas, the school could have handled the firestorm created by the LGBT issues opposition made public regarding their addition to the Big 12.

But the Cougars do not. And, that is why they will probably not make the Big 12 expansion cut at 2 or even four teams. With the recent problems surrounding Baylor and other issues involving BYU about it's No Sunday play and other campus issues, the Big 12 does not want or need a choice that will stir controversy--unless it is a perennial national power in football, which BYU is not.

So let's move on. The original list of six leading contending schools--BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, UCF, Memphis and Connecticut is now a Group of 5.

And while there has been major speculation that Houston is a solid favorite because of its backing from the University of Texas, I am not part of that pack.

I'm still trying to find the votes for Houston. The Cougars need 8 of the 10 members. I can't find them. I think that at least 3 schools--and I'm guessing Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State---will vote NO.

There is some speculation that those three schools will be intimidated if both Oklahoma and Texas are pushing to include Houston. But if that doesn't happen, the game is over. Houston is out.

Which leaves a variety of schools who do not have a great appeal in football (which is dictating these moves).

The Big 12 could take UConn and Cincinnati, which would increase the value in basketball, but do nothing in football.

It could go into Florida and take UCF, which puts the Big 12 in the Florida market, but does little else. What Memphis brings is even more unclear.

It could take 4 schools UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, and UConn.

It could go rogue, so to speak, and go to New Mexico or Tulane or Colorado State, a move which would do nothing more than turn the Big 12 into a different version of Conference USA.

It could also shoot for the moon and see if Arizona and Arizona State can be pried away from the Pac-12.

None of those moves makes sense, but when Presidents are talking about moves which affect athletics anything is possible.

The Big 12 could also decide that none of the schools available is worth the move and it will remain at 10 schools, conduct a championship football playoff game and hope for the best.

Houston is receiving the most political support. But right now, I can't find the 8 votes necessary to get Houston.

If Houston and BYU are both off the list, anything including a Big 10 invasion would seem possible.


The ACC is discussing whether to increase its conference football schedule to 9 games or keep the total at 8, but requiring that two of the 4 non-conference games be against Power 5 conference schools. The sentiment among the elite schools (Clemson, FSU) is to keep the total at 8. [/membership]