The Big 12 was on its deathbed earlier this week, but has somehow survived for the second year in a row. Thanks to the Pac-12’s decision not to expand and add Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech, the Big 12 will continue to exist – for now.
Although the Pac-12 decided not to expand, the Big 12 isn’t going to become one harmonious group overnight.
Oklahoma and Texas still have several issues to work out, particularly what happens with the Longhorn Network and establishing equal revenue distribution.
However, the Pac-12’s decision at least buys the conference and its members a little time to work something out. Oklahoma and Texas reportedly wanted the Big 12 to survive, and now the Pac-12’s announcement gives both schools that opportunity.
Expect both sides to attempt to work out the issues over the next couple of weeks, but there may be a new commissioner involved. Reports out of Oklahoma on Tuesday indicated the Sooners want to see Dan Beebe ousted, and it’s likely other schools in the conference share that desire.
Although Beebe doesn’t deserve all of the blame, like anything that goes wrong, someone has to be the fall guy. The Big 12 needs a commissioner that is a strong leader and will strengthen the conference. And someone that isn’t afraid to push back on Texas, Oklahoma or anyone that might threaten the future of the Big 12.
A new commissioner can work wonders for any conference – see Larry Scott in the Pac-12. Again, Beebe can’t be blamed for everything that occurred, but it seemed he was too interested in giving into all of Texas’ demands and forgetting about the conference’s overall health. It’s interesting to note that none of these issues that popped up in the Big 12 do not occur in the SEC or the Big Ten. Both have equal revenue sharing and it’s about helping build a strong conference – not about individual schools.
Ousting Beebe as commissioner could be the first step in what will be an extended rebuilding phase. The Big 12 must explore expansion and target schools that are going to bring stability. BYU is the perfect target for the conference, but its uncertain if the Cougars will join. If BYU turns down the Big 12, then expect the conference to turn to the Big East, Conference USA and Mountain West for replacements.
The Big 12 also has a decision on whether it wants to expand to 10 or 12 teams. Getting back to 12 would bring more stability and a conference title game for more revenue. However, the Big 12 may not see enough viable candidates to expand back to 12.
Although the Big 12 survived for at least another year, can this group hold together for 10-15 years? Considering the instability the last two seasons and the rift between schools right now, it’s uncertain the conference will be around in 2025.
Since last summer, the Big 12 has lost three solid members – Colorado, Nebraska and Texas A&M. The conference cannot afford to lose Oklahoma or Texas, which is why it’s imperative those two work out any differences.
The Big 12 can become a long-term success, but if the issues aren’t resolved, we can expect to see the same type of scenario that played out over the last two weeks happen again. Sure, the differences might be pretty wide in some areas, and Texas may refuse to give in on certain things – namely the concerns over the Longhorn Network. However, if Oklahoma and Texas are serious about keeping the Big 12 as a viable conference, it’s time to resolve the differences.
College football was a big winner on Tuesday night with the Pac-12’s decision not to expand. Super conferences may eventually happen, but the Pac-12’s decision not to expand puts that on hold – for now.
If you want realignment talk to end, hope the Big 12 works out all of its issues. If you want super conferences, hope Oklahoma and Texas become more frustrated with the Big 12 and decide to leave. And who knows, maybe the Pac-12 will come calling once again. If Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott sees an opportunity in a couple of years, expect him to take it.
The Big 12 has lived to see another day, but how long will it survive? The next few months could decide whether Tuesday’s announcement by the Pac-12 is just a band-aid for the Big 12 or if this strengthens the conference and this is the last of realignment talk for the next 10-15 years.