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Monday, May 16, 2022

Commentary

Big 12 pauses expansion talks, odds still in UH’s favor


University_of_Texas_marching_band_Big_12_Championship_game

The Big 12 met last week, but talks of expansion were put on hold as the league decides what will be most beneficial to its universities. | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Besides the Baylor University scandal, the topic of expansion is the hottest issue facing the Big 12 at the moment.

When the league met last week, it decided to stand pat on the issue until further notice. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, however, has said he hopes for an answer by the end of the summer.

Until then, speculation is going to run rampant, and many schools that want to be in a Power 5 Conference will continue to put forth their best efforts regardless of how ludicrous they may seem.

Since the conference realigned itself into just 10 teams four years ago, the biggest reason for expansion was because the league was ineligible to host a championship game. That said, NCAA’s announcement in January rendered the reasoning invalid.

Whenever the Big 12 does get around to voting on the matter, it will take eight schools in favor of the expansion for it to be passed, which may prove to be a tall order. The University of Texas Longhorns have a lot of say in what happens in the Big 12; both their athletic director and president have been skeptical about whether expansion would actually benefit the league.

If UT opposes the expansion, they only need to get one more school to vote in their favor and see it defeated. Texas Christian University, whom the Longhorns apparently helped to enter the Big 12 in the first place, comes to mind.

There is a chance, although unlikely, that UT has lost any partnerships it has made because they refused to give up their Longhorn Network in place of a Big 12 channel that would have benefited all of the conference’s schools.

The fact that UT blocked a conference network could benefit UH. If the Big 12 were to expand, and with a new network, the league wanted to move to new markets and would find that they already have roots in Houston.

David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma and current Big 12 chairman, has advocated for expansion, but has spoken with care on the topic after some members of OU’s Board of Regents opposed the move.

With a Big 12 channel out of the picture, Boren did say in the Big 12’s press conference last week that if — and “if” being the key word — the league did decide to expand, it would look for schools that will make the conference more competitive.

Boren also stressed that he wanted universities that were academically strong. UH is coming off a 13-1 season and is labeled as a Tier One research institute.

Although UH’s recently boosted resume fits what Boren wanted, the decision still remains in the hands of nine other schools.

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