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Big 12 Mailbag: Expansion edition

6/26/2015

It's the Big 12 Twitter mailbag you've all been waiting for. In light of David Boren's comments Wednesday, I exclusively answered expansion questions.

Enjoy, and on to the bag:

Trotter: If Oklahoma ever began looking around again, that would probably be it for the Big 12. Texas is stuck for the moment because of the Longhorn Network, which wouldn't fit into the framework of other conferences. But Texas alone can't prop up the Big 12 without Oklahoma. Despite the Pac-12 fiasco of four years ago, the Sooners ultimately would have options to go to other conferences. But would they be willing -- or have the political capital -- to leave Oklahoma State behind if they had to? Would they be willing to dissolve the Red River Showdown, at least for a period of time? I don't know. But if Oklahoma wanted out, I think it could get out. With the "granting of rights" contracts in place, this doesn't seem to be an imminent possibility. But 5-7 years down the road, when those contracts could more easily be negotiated out, this could be a development to watch. Oklahoma is the keymaker.

Trotter: Yes, it's far-fetched; but allow me a try: Dear Nebraska, since joining the Big Ten, you've become less relevant. We know it. You know it. Your recruiting pipeline to Texas has been cut off. You don't play Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State every year anymore. Your big rival now is Iowa. I know the money is good in the Big Ten. But the money isn't so bad here, either. We can rekindle the Oklahoma series and have it every Thanksgiving, too. How fun would that be? Come home. The Big 12 misses you. And even though you won't admit it, you know you miss the Big 12, too. Except for Texas. And, well, we can figure that out when you get back. How was that?

Trotter: It's not urgent because BYU and Boise State are going to still be available five years from now. Nobody else is adding those schools. So the Big 12 can afford to be patient to give the current model more time to work in the playoff format. BYU makes sense from a TV revenue standpoint. But the Big 12 didn't exactly hit it off with BYU the last time the two sides discussed possible inclusion. Adding BYU would also initiate a proximity nightmare (Provo is 2,000 miles away from Morgantown). But there really isn't any perfect option out there, either, which is one reason why the Big 12 has opted for the status quo so far. If it ever got to that point, Boise State, UCF and Cincinnati would be other feasible possibilities.

Trotter: It's hard for me to say, because I've never actually seen the language in the TV contracts. Does the pro-rate increase account for Tier 1 rights, or all TV money outside of Tier 3 (Longhorn Network, etc.)? But even if it accounted for all TV money, 60 percent of all revenue (CFB Playoff, NCAA Tournament) would still remain the same and be divided among 12 partners instead of 10. So in the end, every school would be taking in less revenue than it does now. That's the deterrent against expansion right now.

Trotter: Probably your waistline. Even in light of Boren's comments, I haven't spoken to anyone in the Big 12 who favors expansion in the current climate. If the Big 12 continues to get left out of the playoff, then it's a discussion the Big 12 will have to have. But we're not to that point yet. Liked I mentioned earlier, the opportunity to expand will always be there. BYU, Boise State and Cincinnati aren't going anywhere.

Trotter: This is a great question. I fear it might not be all that long. The granting of right contracts will be coming up in a decade right around when the current College Football Playoff contract ends. That could be the moment when the conference landscape encounters another major shift. The Big 12 at that point won't be operating from a position of strength. It will be much easier for the Big Ten then to add, say, an Oklahoma than it will be for the Big 12 to add an Arkansas. For all its troubles, I'm pretty confident the Big 12 will still be around leading up to 2025. After that, I'm not so sure.

Trotter: I don't think that's what Boren's motivation was. Because if it was Boren's motivation, he would have just come out and said it, like he did during his infamous "we're not going to be a wallflower" soliloquy in 2011. That said, Boren wanted it to be known that he's concerned about the current state of the league. That could be the first step in the Big 12 finally getting serious about expansion again.

Trotter: I asked Bob Bowlsby about this in December, and he said the Big 12 would be more apt to expand east than west, because there are more candidates to the east. I think West Virginia's proximity would be a factor, too. That said, there haven't been any recent expansion talks. In fact, it's been a long time since the Big 12 officially deliberated on individual expansion candidates.

Trotter: With Tom Herman, Houston could become a hot program. One of the reasons TCU got into the Big 12 was because it was a hot program at the right time, coming off a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. If Herman got Houston going again, the Cougars could be seen as a stronger candidate. Then again, I don't know how motivated the Big 12 would be to add another team from the Lone Star State, as it would be reduplicating, as opposed to expanding, the conference footprint.

Trotter: I love both movies. But Animal House gets the nod because it carries a higher rewatchability factor with me. I can't really quote any lines from Caddyshack. I can probably quote a fourth of Animal House. To end this mailbag, I give you my favorite scene.