With the Big 12 conference set to hold its annual football media days next week, one of the main topics of discussion is certain to be conference expansion.
University of Oklahoma president David Boren has already weighed in on the subject, saying that the league needs to be “extremely careful” when it comes to adding teams. His main criteria for any schools looking to join the 10-team conference seem to be the size of their media market and the strength of their fan base’s support.
Last week, it was Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt’s turn to speak on the issue. In a radio interview with 104.3 FM in Lubbock, Hocutt said, “There’s a process that is led by (Big 12 commissioner) Bob Bowlsby, who I think is one of the best leaders in college athletics, as well as our president, and I know that we will continue to look at the landscape and be as strategic and proactive as we possibly can be.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for expansion, but perhaps at least it’s an indication that TTU would come on board with adding teams, provided it’s in the best interests of Texas Tech and the Big 12.
In perhaps his most telling statement, Hocutt went on to say, “We are financially stable, we’re competitively challenged.”
That would seem to indicate that he is in agreement with Boren’s contention that the Big 12, by not having enough teams to qualify for a conference championship game, is already one step behind the other Power 5 conferences when it comes to consideration for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
As you may recall, two Big 12 teams, TCU and Baylor, were leapfrogged by eventual champion Ohio State last season in the final rankings that determined the participants in the first CFP.
The consensus opinion at the time was that the Buckeyes were able to jump ahead of the Horned Frogs and the Bears because they played an extra game (the Big Ten Conference Championship) and put up an impressive performance against Wisconsin.
Had Baylor and TCU squared off in a Big 12 title game, well, who knows how those final rankings might have looked.
One thing is for certain, however: Until the Big 12 actually has 12 teams again, they are going to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the College Football Playoff. Here’s hoping the league’s AD’s and presidents all figure that out soon.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports