I’m not happy about writing this particular expansion update. I have great respect and admiration for BYU as an institution and for their football program and it’s because of my esteem for the Cougars that I decided to once again write about what’s not happening because I believe the good people who follow BYU understand the value of truth no matter how difficult it is to read.
BYU isn’t close to membership in the Big 12 conference.
The Big 12 hasn’t retained the services of Chuck Neinas to brainstorm revenue-generating ways of adding BYU.
BYU didn’t send representatives to the recent Big 12 spring meetings.
BYU doesn’t have eight votes among Big 12 members.
I understand the panic among the BYU fan base. The ACC and SEC declarations about BYU’s exclusion from the ranks of the new football elite fuel the rumors.
The panic also makes BYU fans vulnerable.
The fear of being left out of the elite and being forced, through no fault of you own, to fall back to the level of a Conference USA program makes it easier for you to suspend disbelief and seize upon any rumor, no matter how crazy, that offers an alternative.
The problem is none of the rumors are true.
I wish I could write that BYU was close to becoming the 11th member of the Big 12 but if I were to do so I would be lying and BYU fans deserve the truth.
The Big 12 isn’t thinking about expansion. Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby is on record as saying that he couldn’t get a single member institution to support expansion.
The answer is always money. It just isn’t profitable for the Big 12 to expand under the current television contract.
The Big 12’s TV contract is split between Fox and ESPN and both networks have refused to reopen the contract to add money for expansion.
What that means is if the Big 12 were to add BYU that each of the ten current members would see their annual revenue from the TV contract reduced by $2-3 million each year. Over the lifetime of the current contract that loss of revenue hits a staggering $20-30 million dollars.
Some people may try and tell you that the conference realizes it must spend money to make money. Those people don’t understand the Big 12.
Equal revenue sharing is new to the Big 12. Prior to the TV contract signed two years ago it was Texas that received the most benefit from the Big 12’s media deal.
It’s not hard to understand why the seven schools, who now enjoy revenues from the new contract, would be reluctant to reduce their shares.
The only factor that could have motivated the Big 12 to expand and willingly accept revenue cuts was the slim chance that the playoff selection committee would favor those conferences who play a conference championship game.
Current NCAA rules require a conference have a minimum of 12 members to hold a championship game and since the NCAA denied the Big 12’s request for a waiver last summer it seemed the playoff committee would determine the fate of Big 12 expansion.
If the committee decided that a conference champion determined by way of a championship game was more worthy than a champion determined by round-robin play then the Big 12 would have expanded by inviting BYU and UCF.
Big 12 expansion, for the foreseeable future, wad dead when Bowlsby was assured by those on the committee, which includes WVU’s Oliver Luck, that the Big 12’s champion would be on equal footing with those determined by a championship game.
And then came the “coup de grace”…
This August the 350 member institutions that comprise division 1 will vote to allow the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC to establish their own rules. One of the rules that will be changed is the rule that stipulates 12 members in separate divisions are required for the staging of a championship game.
That autonomy eliminates any incentive the Big 12 had to expand.
No matter what rumor you hear I want you to keep that in mind. I want to ask why would the Big 12 expand? What benefit would expansion bring?
But don’t despair.
I still believe that BYU and UCF will eventually be Big 12 members. It’s just happening tomorrow or next month, or next year, or the year after.
The Big 12 understands they have the smallest media footprint of the major conferences and they understand the need to expand. It will happen as soon the TV contract makes it profitable.
Until then my message to the BYU faithful is don’t panic. BYU is in a better position than most to survive the wilderness for the next 5 or 6 years. BYU will be more than okay.
Until then don’t panic and don’t fall for those who would lie to you because they see BYU nation in panic mode.