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Big 12 Expansion About To...Not Happen?

Is the Big 12 about to become a laughing stock?

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Iowa State v Oklahoma
Oklahoma President David Boren is laughing. He’s not the only one.
Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Big 12 has just about reached a decision on expansion and it looks like the conference will one.

Why, you ask?

Well, partly it’s that the Big 12 can’t agree on the sun coming up. Partly though it’s TV.

In an interesting twist, ESPN and Fox may essentially pay the Big 12 to not expand.

At the root of this is a clause in the Big 12’s TV deals with both partners which would mandate that the Big 12 get $25 million a year for each team it would add through expansion.

ESPN and Fox will pay to eliminate that clause - presumably less than they would pay to keep it - and the Big 12 would stay at 10 and the farcical process would come to an end.

It might be just as well.

The top candidates are reportedly BYU, Cincinnati, UConn and Houston. BYU has made a lot of Big 12 people unhappy because the school’s honor code strikes many as unfair and antiquated, particularly in light of the recent sexual assault scandal at Baylor. Texas politics make Houston an unpopular if inevitable option and UConn is a very long way away and doesn’t offer much in football.

There doesn’t seem to be much objection to Cincinnati, but it may be too late.

As we’ve learned over the years, Texas and Oklahoma basically run the Big 12. OU President David Boren started this expansion train and he pretty much derailed it too.

That’s the way it is, but expansion works two ways. The Big 12’s TV deal and its grant of media rights runs through 2025. When realignment resumes, the other four power conferences - the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and PAC-12 - will surely make a run at Texas and possibly Oklahoma.

If either leaves, the rest of the conference will quickly implode as everyone else seeks safe harbor.

Not that it matters at this point, and not that we’re in favor of it, but if Texas went to say the Big Ten, the ACC may well pursue Kansas. Yes, football is the driving force behind realignment, but a conference with Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Louisville, Virginia, Notre Dame and Kansas would be insanely good in basketball.