Stop me if you've heard this before: The Big Twelve is at least discussing the prospects of expansion again, this time to regain its twelve team structure.
Still, in the mind of at least Boren, there's an underlying message being conveyed: "If you want to join our conference, keep investing in your athletic program because expansion is more viable than you might have thought." Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed to the Dallas Morning News and later told CBSSports.com that the Big 12's TV contract calls for pro rata increases or decreases based on the number of members.
Bowlsby said he has no indication that the majority of Big 12 presidents support Boren's desire to reach 12. "It's my sense that the majority are either unsure or not supportive of expansion at this point," Bowlsby told CBSSports.com on Thursday. "But David is a very influential member of our board and I think his comments will cause some to have pause and think about it again. David is obviously very politically savvy and insightful and very influential, so those are his thoughts on it and I'm certainly going to listen to them."
The driving force behind David Boren's proposal (OU President) is as you'd imagine -- the league being shut out of the inaugural CFB playoff, and all of the cash involved in those playoffs. But, owing to the Big Twelve's payout structure, any teams that are brought in must immediately generate their own revenue. Under their present contract, and internal distribution of proceeds, there is only so much to go around, and any potential entrants to the B12 diminishes the pro rata share of each conference participant.
[The] two new additions would really need to bring an additional $65 million a year to cover what the current members would make by staying at 10. Even if the current TV deal would rise by two shares, someone would have to convince the networks to cover the rest.
In a way not only is this is helpful for the Big Twelve; but, it should have the effect of curbing so much of the madness we saw between 2009-2012 -- there are only so many viable candidates out there, and they are either independent or non-P5 schools. Names bandied about include Cincinnati, BYU, Memphis among others.
BYU adds a nice academic prize with a healthy endowment, as well as a traditionally good football program. Memphis offers a basketball-crazed tourist city, with the geographic benefit of being within a 8-hour drive of most B12 schools. Cincinnati offers a decent football program, an historically good basketball program, but like Memphis, has some woeful academics and just not much of a fanbase or disposable cash.
Keep an eye on this one as smaller schools look to move up. However, in a conference that is still Texas-centric, and with all major regional programs already settled into new digs, I'm not sure that two midmajor schools are available that can even earn the $65m required for expansion to make fiscal sense for everyone. Moreover, as Bowlsby suggests, the majority of ADs and Presidents don't seem to keen to repeat the expansion game, given the fiasco last time.
My guess is that this is just David Boren farting into a window fan to see what kind of noise it makes. And, because it's the offseason, we pay attention to it.