No more conference expansion talk!

Big 12 presidents agreed in October that the conference would not expand, bringing an end to an exasperating saga that began following a July board of directors meeting when outspoken Oklahoma president David Boren announced that “we want to move forward” with an evaluation of candidates. For the Big 12, this expansion episode was as embarrassing as it was unpredictable, complete with a stream of anonymously sourced articles about the vetting of potential new members and negotiations with television executives; a report about commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s intention to hold video conferences with at least 20 programs; and a sequence of contradictory statements from league presidents.

All of it seemed to drive home the above point about the Big 12’s decline in stature in the national landscape. While the conference fought to keep its head above water on the field, its administrators invited waves of criticism off it by turning the expansion process into a highly publicized casting call in which it hosted more than a dozen hopeful actors for auditions and then told all of them to go home without choosing one. Hopefully this is the last time the Big 12 looks into increasing its roster of programs before its grant of media rights expires in 2025. That’s probably wishful thinking, though.

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