Big 12 athletic directors wrapped up two days of meetings in Irving, Texas, on Tuesday, reaffirming their desire to maintain a 10-team conference but able to move quickly if the landscape changes.
The Big 12 likely won’t instigate any change. It prefers revenue distribution to 10 teams, rather than 12 or 14, and the league likes to promote its complete round-robin scheduling. Among the top five leagues — Big 12, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC — the Big 12 is alone in this format.
“It’s not about what we’re prepared to do,” commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “It’s that we’re prepared.”
Keep an eye on the Big Ten. There’s a belief in college sports circles that the conference could again raid the ACC for more inventory. The Big Ten grabbed Maryland from the ACC and Rutgers from the Big East in November.
If the Big Ten continues to grow and the ACC becomes vulnerable, the Big 12 could use the opportunity to expand into that part of the country.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Tuesday on SiriusXM Radio that he believes realignment may not have ended in the ACC.
“If we think it’s over in our conference we’d be very naïve,” Krzyzewski said. “The ACC has to find a way…to lock arms and not lose any more (teams).”
The Big 12 has had a conversation with the ACC about some kind of alliance, although Bowlsby wasn’t specific about the details.
“I think there are some ways you can get benefits and some of the value of a larger configuration without actually adding members,” Bowlsby said.
A scheduling arrangement would seem a possibility, as Bowlsby stressed the need for Big 12 schools to upgrade non-conference football schedules to help increase the value of the league’s television contracts.
Some else to keep in mind: The Big 12 is sensitive to West Virginia’s travel issues. The closest league opponent, Iowa State, is 750 air miles away. “I hope we can do something to help them,” a Big 12 athletic director told The Star last week and repeated Bowlsby’s sentiment that the conference could grow quickly if the Big Ten or SEC jumped to 16 teams.
The Big 12 is exploring agreements with other conferences in different ways. The league has talked about a basketball challenge series with the SEC, and, once the football playoff begins in 2014, flexibility with its bowl deals.
The Big 12 would like to have a bowl presence in Florida, and could work with the Big Ten, which is aligned with three Florida bowls.
The Cotton Bowl, the Big 12’s top bowl destination after the BCS, will likely be one of six bowls that will part the post-2014 postseason structure, and Bowlsby said the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or Meineke Bowl in Houston could move up in the selection order.