— BYU Sports Nation (@BYUSportsNation) October 17, 2016
To expand, or not to expand? That has been the question that the Big 12 has wrestled with for months now. At times the conversation has been cordial and in other moments it’s been so full of conflict that schools have threatened to leave. Now, the Big 12 is scheduling a press conference for 5:00 pm (Central) on Monday and BYU is all over it. The question is, is it worth paying attention to how much BYU is paying attention?
Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, UConn, SMU, South Florida, Central Florida, Air Force, Colorado State, Rice and Tulane have all been reported as finalists to make the cut in the Big 12 expansion saga but only BYU seems to be thrilled about the announcement. Is it possible that the conference will announce on Monday that they are just expanding by one at this time? Oklahoma has been the biggest advocate in bringing the Cougars in, even going as far as saying they are opposed to expanding if it doesn’t include Provo, Utah.
The other possibility is that BYU is setting themselves up for some heartbreak. Perhaps being hopeful, and a bit over-zealous, the Cougars are going to host a watch party only to see the conference announce that there won’t be any expansion. Both ESPN and FOX are going to pay big dollars to keep the conference at ten members, and we all know that money talks louder than anything else.
So…is it worth connecting the dots between the Big 12 press conference and the BYU watch party. I think that it might just be and here’s why. The Big 12 could take the money and run, which there’s a really good chance it will, but the big payout won’t provide longevity. The conference can’t keep up with the Joneses at just ten members. If they chose to stay where they are then when the current television deal expires the Big 12 will be so far behind the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, & Pac10 that they won’t ever be able to keep up. They Power Five will have turned to a Power Four and blue blood programs Oklahoma and Texas won’t hang around for that. Taking the money would essentially mean conceding to play second fiddle to the big dogs.
Hopefully the Big 12 is smarter than that. Hopefully the decision/announcement won’t be about dollars as much as it will be about expanding their brand by adding a nationally recognized institution…among others. That’s what BYU is hoping to hear and quite honestly it’s what we should be as well. This press conference isn’t just about where BYU will be playing football in the next decade (I expect the Cougars will be a football member only) but it’s very much about where your favorite school will be playing ten years from now as well.