Berry Tramel asks a series of reasonable questions about why the fevered pitch over Oklahoma President David Boren’s suggestion that the Big 12 needs to be considering expanding to twelve schools.
Why? Why does the Big 12 have to flounder with only 10 schools? That’s not a rhetorical question. That’s not me being sarcastic, trying to make a case against expansion. It’s a legitimate question.
Why can’t the Big 12 thrive with 10 schools? What would two schools add, especially two imperfect-fit schools, which are the only kind available at the moment? Again, dead-serious question. What would 12 provide that 10 doesn’t?
He explores various answers to the questions and finds most of them come up lacking. (Not that that’s hard to do when this is what the current expansion pool looks like: “As many as nine schools have been mentioned as Big 12 expansion targets. Western independent Brigham Young. Boise State and Colorado State from the Mountain West Conference. Cincinnati, Memphis, Connecticut, South Florida, Central Florida and Houston from the American Conference.”)
But the reality is not that. It’s about eat or be eaten. It’s what Todd Berry, the incoming president of American Football Coaches Association, describes here, in response to a question about whether more conference expansion is coming:
“I think that there will be. I don’t think there’s any question that right now with power 5 autonomy it is going to drive some very, very interesting things over the next several years for all of college football. When you start looking at the amount of money that’s being generated by the playoff, and more than likely we’ll see the playoff expand, I would assume, just because there’s more money out there to be had. That’s kind of what’s driving this thing. The conference commissioners, I think in particular, are really, really in control of college football. There was a time frame when the presidents decided they wanted to take it over, then they kind of punted and the ADs took over. Now the conference commissioners are really driving the bus. So yeah, I think there’s going to be another wave (of realignment.) I think that those people that are in preparation for that that are being a bit more proactive are in a lot better position. Now obviously the power 5 is going to be what it is, but I think there’s going to be members of the group of 5 that are going to try and make that jump and make that transition that are going to be appealing to power 5 schools. If this thing does eventually end up being a new classification, which I think it probably will be, there’s some teams in the group of 5 that are probably in the mix and deserving and have the financial resources to be able to make a push along those lines. So yeah, I think we’re probably in that mode right now where everybody’s in that posturing mode like they were five years ago when all of a sudden this thing started shaking up a little bit.” [Emphasis added.]
The presidents have abdicated their role in the process because it’s all about the money now and the conference commissioners are less burdened by non-monetary considerations than they are. Just remember that the next time one of them starts bleating about making sure that a school is an academic match for an expanding conference. (Let’s not forget that West Virginia was the last school admitted to Boren’s conference.) Because that’s nothing more than an irrelevant sideshow. The SEC Network ain’t broadcasting history classes, peeps.