The Oklahoma board of regents gets all “you’re not the boss of me” with the school’s president about Big 12 expansion.
The most strident and powerful voice in favor of Big 12 expansion has a significant opponent at his own school.
Max Weitzenhoffer, the Oklahoma board of regents chairman, told CBS Sports he will try to convince influential OU president David Boren to ditch Big 12 expansion.
“I can tell you I’m not alone,” Weitzenhoffer said.
The seven-member board, which serves as the school’s governing body, will meet Thursday. At that time, Weitzenhoffer said, he will seek clarification on the board’s input regarding the school’s vote on expansion.
At least one other regents member, Oklahoma City Thunder chairman Clay Bennett, is against expansion, Weitzenhoffer said.
“One-hundred percent [with] what we’ve been talking about,” Weitzenhoffer said of Bennett’s position. “We just want to let him [Boren] know, we don’t like it.
“If it goes forward, it may get to the point where we may not be able to stop it.”
Why the conflict? Hint: it’s a five-letter word beginning with “m” that rhymes with honey.
He added he is “very close friends” with Boren but added, “We’re not on the same page. They keep talking about more money, but it’s really not that much more money.”
It is known that any expansion candidates will be paid “pro rata” — the same annually as current Big 12 members, about $23 million per year. What is not known is what additional money — if any — rightsholders ESPN and Fox would be willing to pay the Big 12 for expansion.
Judging from this, Weitzenhoffer may very well have the better argument:
Weitzenhoffer explained why the Big 12 stands to gain little in expanding to schools most commonly mentioned — Boise State, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis and South Florida, among others.
“Those are the ones I keep hearing,” Weitzenhoffer said. “They have no seating capacities in their stadiums. They really don’t build them up. They really don’t have any TV. I really don’t know what we have to gain by that.”
“The problem with Cincinnati is … then they start getting all this money,” Weitzenhoffer said. “Then what do we do? We build up somebody we don’t want to build up.”
At least six of those expansion candidates have capacities at or below the Big 12’s two smallest stadiums — TCU and Baylor (approximately 45,000). Only UConn ($72 million) would be close to the lowest-revenue athletic departments in the Big 12 (Baylor and TCU, each at approximately $71 million).
The real money is elsewhere. The Big 12’s problem is that the real money isn’t going anywhere else.
The only way expansion makes sense, Weitzenhoffer said, is snagging teams from a Power Five conference. With the exception of the SEC, those conferences are bound together at the moment each by a grant of rights. If any school leaves, its television rights are retained by the existing conference.
Thus — short of a bitter, protracted court challenge — no Power Five schools are likely to leave until the middle of the next decade.
“I don’t think anybody can [be shaken loose],” Weitzenhoffer said, adding, “We’ve been fiddling with Notre Dame for years … but they’re not going to be leaving.”
Eh, it could be worse. At least the Big 12 has the bold leadership of Bob Bowlsby at the helm.