Big 12 notebook: Conference teams vote for expansion
DALLAS — At its meeting Wednesday, the Big 12 board of directors moved toward expanding the conference from 10 to 12 or 14 teams.
“It was a unanimous vote,” Oklahoma president David Boren, the Big 12 board chairman, said at the conference's media days. “It's a forward step. It's a formal step. It's not yet a decision.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was charged with evaluating the interest of other universities that contacted the Big 12 and with reporting to the board at a future meeting. He said his report could be made at the October board meeting or “another meeting between now and then.”
Candidates linked to the Big 12 include BYU, Boise State, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis and South Florida.
“We are looking for members that will grow over time as we grow,” Bowlsby said, “that bring stability, that have a high top end.”
The Big 12 has been the smallest of the Power 5 conferences since 2012.
Boren acknowledged the ACC's decision to add a conference television network by 2019 increased the Big 12's urgency.
“We are continuing to operate in an environment that is in constant change,” he said. “We try to keep an eye on the changing environment.”
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is in favor of expansion.
“I'm on the side of my boss, President (Gordon) Gee, who is in favor of expansion, as well,” he said. “I would like to see two teams added. I would like a good, round number of 12. It makes those divisional breakups easier, and it makes trying to get a championship together a little earlier.”
Holgorsen also supports the board's earlier decision to have a conference championship game beginning after the 2017 season.
“There is no question. I've said this for a couple years. I think you need to find the best two teams,” he said. “I've got all the confidence in the world with the Big 12 administration, commissioner Bowlsby to figure that out.”
Baylor dominated the discussion at the two media days, in a way the Bears weren't able to dominate on the field.
Much of acting head coach Jim Grobe's media session Tuesday consisted of discussing the spate of sexual assault allegations that led to his hiring May 30 to replace Art Briles. The media also heard about a two-hour presentation by acting president David Garland and other Baylor officials with the conference's board of directors.
“It was quite candid and something that was very necessary,” Boren said. “The details provided today are a necessary step in helping the entire membership gain a better understanding of the past actions and how the university plans to deal with all the issues. We are assured of the university's commitment to keep the conference apprised going forward.”
There was no disclosure of any penalties levied or contemplated. Bowlsby said Baylor made a list of 125 recommendations.
Grobe had said, “The majority of our kids are fantastic kids. The problems that we're dealing with at Baylor or have dealt with at Baylor to this point are probably problems at every university in the country.”
As a result of the university's investigation, Baylor president Kenneth Starr, athletic director Ian McCaw and Briles lost their jobs.
“You can make a call as to whether you think Baylor was too strong in the way they dealt with it,” Grobe said.
Grobe, formerly the coach at Wake Forest, brought an impeccable personal reputation to his new job. He was contacted by former Baylor coach Grant Teaff. They worked together with the American Football Coaches Association.
Lary Bump is a freelance writer.