Bob Bowlsby’s 30-minute state of the conference address to open Big 12 media days did not include a comment about expansion. When a question arrived a few minutes into his question-and-answer session, the commissioner said he was surprised.
“I lost the pool,” Bowlsby said. “I thought it would be the first question.”
The topic returned to the news cycle last month when Oklahoma president David Boren called the Big 12 “psychologically disadvantaged” as a 10-team conference without divisional play and a championship game in football.
In those years (1996-2009), the Big 12 won three football national championships, with two coming out of the BCS system. Big 12 schools played in seven title games from 2000-09.
Last season, the Big 12 appeared to be in a position to be represented in the inaugural College Football Playoff, but the four teams that won conference championship games made the playoff. The Big 12, with co-champions Baylor and TCU finishing the regular season 11-1, did not.
After Boren made his comments, “I immediately got busy,” said Bowlsby, fielding inquiries about expansion.
But the Big 12 isn’t headed for membership growth at the moment.
“It is my understanding at the present time that the majority of our presidents and chancellors believe 10 is the right number for us,” Bowlsby said. “There are those that believe we should get larger, and they feel strongly about it.
“There are those who believe we should stay at 10 and they feel strongly about it. And there are probably four or five in the middle who are persuadable one way or other. I don’t think there’s critical mass for expansion.”