Kansas State president Kirk Schulz thinks the Big 12 is a stable conference, and it annoys him when outsiders suggest otherwise.
“Frankly, it drives me bananas,” Schulz told reporters Friday following winter Big 12 meetings in Dallas. “I don’t necessarily understand why it’s out there.”
Schulz has a point. The Big 12 placed a team — Oklahoma — in college football’s playoff this past season, and currently boasts five men’s basketball teams ranked in the top 15, including the top-ranked Sooners.
But with Oklahoma president David Boren insisting the Big 12 is “psychologically disadvantaged” compared to other conferences that include 12 or more members, host a championship football game and share a league-wide network, well, some are understandably worried about the state of the conference.
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Perhaps that is why Schulz said Friday that Big 12 presidents will now look to commissioner Bob Bowlsby as the voice of the conference. Instead of presidents publicly sharing their views on topics such as expansion, Schulz said they will hold those discussions in private and let Bowlsby make public statements for the conference as a whole.
“If you’re going to have a family argument,” Schulz said, “is it better do it in Applebee’s or at home? We decided to do it at home with the door shut.”
Those arguments may lead to change. The Big 12 is now allowed to bring back a championship game, so long as it uses a round-robin schedule (as it currently does) and selects the top two teams in the league standings for the game, or expands to 12 or more schools and reverts back to divisional play.
Bowlsby has said the conference is unlikely to hold a championship game in 2016. But he also said it’s not impossible.
Adding teams, such as BYU, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Central Florida and South Florida has also been speculated. But league presidents and athletic directors said expansion talk this week was minimal.
Creating a Big 12 television network is also a hot-button issue. Schulz joked Friday that K-State makes “tens of dollars” off its third-tier TV rights. Texas makes millions off the Longhorn Network.
Schulz said Big 12 leaders are open to exploring all options. They want to work together.
“There are still a diversity of opinions on lots of issues that you all are most interested in,” Schulz said. “Size, championship game and network opportunities, and all those sorts of things. I feel we are converging and I feel we are getting really excellent data and information from some of the very best consultants out there.
“We are taking our time so that at the end of the day, when we are done with whatever the package of things look like, we want there to be a 10-0 vote and for all institutions to say, ‘We think this is the best for us.’ That takes a little time to get there. But that’s the direction we are moving in.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett