Jul 18, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby speaks to the media during the Big 12 Media Days at Omni Dallas Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The most offseason topic of all-time is going to be heavily discussed – in-season – on Monday. That’s when the Big 12’s presidents will meet once again in Dallas to potentially make a decision on expansion, or lack thereof. That’s what Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel (who in my opinion is the best realignment journalist out there) is predicting.
Sources: Don’t expect Big 12 expansion this weekend. New wrinkle with TV partners has changed the course. https://t.co/Mrpq4lf2n3
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) October 15, 2016
While Thamel is careful to not report any certainties, it certainly feels like (and has for a few weeks now) the Big 12’s television partners (ESPN and FOX) are going to pay the league to NOT expand.
What? Why? Huh?
In layman’s terms: Instead of being forced to pay upwards of $1 billion (due to a pro rata clause in the current contract) should the Big 12 expand by four schools (any four schools), the television networks will likely pay the league a sum of money (that we do not know yet) to not expand. It’s cheaper for ESPN and FOX and plus, they don’t have to pay more for properties that they already own (BYU, Houston, UConn or anyone, really).
Breaking: Big 12 expansion decision may be tabled — perhaps until after Christmas. https://t.co/deXDVVtS4p
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) October 14, 2016
Believe it or not: As far as longterm stability for the Big 12 goes, this might be the best possible outcome for the league. I have reasons to believe that the networks do not want the Big 12 to implode in 2025 – when the current television contract is due to expire. That’s complicated and I will write more about that at a future time, but they key here is that the Big 12 is working hand-in-hand with its partners in making this decision. Expanding by four – or even two to some extent – would have been viewed as a middle finger to its partners and potentially unforgivable seven years from now.
A lot will change between now and then and more realignment is due to happen as well.
Whatever occurs on Monday though, the television networks have a huge say in it.
The longterm health of the Big 12 though will ultimately be decided by Texas and Oklahoma. If they want the league to live, it will. If they choose to move on, it will die. It’s as simple as that.
For now though, expect Iowa State (and others) to receive a nice bump in pay in one way or another sometime in the near future.
And I’m hopeful that the Big 12 actually makes a final decision in one way on Monday. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m tired of the drama.