With all due respect, here is our message to Oklahoma President David Boren: Shut up.
Boren has been the loudest voice in the Big 12 room. He comes out of meetings, someone asks him a question and he answers it, often with an opinion which creates headlines.
The problem is that the topic these days is Big 12 expansion. Boren, who is also Chairman of the Big 12 Board of Directors, came out of an OU Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday and said the Big 12 might expand--but there was no guarantee that it would. He also said there was no guarantee it wouldn't or that a decision or announcement would come out of the next Big 12 Board of Directors meeting in mid-October.
This, of course, provided little insight as to what would happen with the Big 12. Boren covered all the bases. But it was unnecessary chatter. One could only wonder what Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who has imposed a gag order on all the potential candidates for expansion, must have thought.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
""He can't help himself,'' said one long time observer of the Big 12 and Boren, who was the Governor of Oklahoma and a US Senator from the state earlier in his career.
No, he can't. Nor can the rest of the Big 12 which has turned the process of conference expansion into a high wire circus act. Right now, there are very few scenarios in which the Big 12 will look good with any outcome.
If they do nothing, they will be criticized and ridiculed for wasting the time and money of the schools who thought they had a chance to become Part of a Power 5 conference.
If they add four schools, there will be a push back that the product has been diluted and that television is paying more for getting less--as much as $20 million for each additional school.
If they add two schools, there will be criticism that the wrong two schools were picked. If they drag it past October, they will be asked the reason for the delay.
When the Big 10 had its latest expansion (Rutgers and Maryland) Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany imposed a cone of silence on the proceedings that worked until the final few weeks when the announcement was made.
Bowlsby has worked hard to maintain a dignity to the proceedings, despite the suggestions from his Presidents to interview way too many schools, most of whom are not serious candidates. Whenever the topic of Big 12 expansion is mentioned, Bowlsby has smiled and shaken his head and offered no comments other than the standard talk about the process is continuing.
Even among his brethren, such as American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco, Bowlsby has maintained a degree of silence. Aresco and Bowlsby watched the Houston vs. Oklahoma game together a few weeks ago and other than a "How are you doing'' comment there were no suggestions from Bowlsby of what direction the Big 12 was heading.
""Topic never came up,'' said Aresco with a laugh.
Bowlsby and Aresco are friends, who have known each other for years. And most of the schools that the Big 12 was considering came from Aresco's conference.
The bottom line is that neither Bowlsby nor Boren knows what is going to happen, Nine other Big 12 schools have opinions and agendas. Oklahoma might be one of the top tier players in this high stakes game, but it does not speak for the conference, which is why Boren would have been best been served with a ""We will see what happens when we meet'' comment without clarification.
That is not in his DNA. And perhaps Boren should be focusing on what could be happening on his own campus. There is still more than casual chatter that Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione is still in the mix for the prestigious job as the Florida athletic director, which will open when Florida AD Jeremy Foley steps down next month.
Both Foley and Castiglione are among the Top 5 ADs in the country and while there is no tangible reason why Castiglione would leave OU, having a President whose comments cause ripple effects that go quickly to the athletic department and the uncertain stability of the Big 12's future, might be a reason to finish his career at the University of Florida.
The topic of Big 12 expansion should remain quiet for another several days as Bowlsby plans his next move and decides whether one more set of meetings with a group of three or four finalists is necessary before the Presidents have their meeting.
Quiet, of course, until someone asks David Boren a question.[/membership]