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Conference Realignment: The Big 12 Files

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Yesterday, university presidents and athletic directors from Big 12 schools kicked off their annual Spring meetings, and topics of interest included conference expansion and the BCS playoffs, among other things. Initial, public, reports from the meeting are stating the Big 12 has decided to stand pat at 10 teams until the new BCS system takes shape. Interim commissioner for the Big 12, Chuck Neinas, had this to say:

Per The AP

"You have to analyze whether you want to go beyond 10 first...There's more to it than just adding a member. How it impacts the membership in terms of the BCS standings, how it impacts the television arrangement, how it impacts the basketball arrangement, what it does to other sports. I think you have to take an analytical approach to it."

The conference also announced that it would be in favor of a BCS playoff that included the top four teams, taken by a selection committee. Here's a word on that from Neinas:

Per The AP

"We're in favor of taking the four highest-ranked teams...We think it should be some type of selection committee operation, and how you rate a conference champion, strength of schedule must be included"

Of course, it only makes sense that the conference wait and see what kind of BCS system will be in play, before bringing any additional members into the league. Its important to determine exactly how the system will affect the league, and then decide what would be the best option moving forward.

Now, the conference didn't close the door on future expansion either, but did say they're comfortable at 10 members for the time being. Those words don't really hold much water though. Rumors are swirling that the Big 12 is close to adding both Florida State and Clemson to get the conference to 12 members, and as we all know; where there's smoke, there's fire.

But, no matter what the conference's intentions are, news like we heard on the first day of meetings should be exactly what we expect. We should assume that public statements from anyone associated with the Big 12 will likely not give any insight into expansion until moves are ready to be made.

However, whether they'll admit it or not, its probably more likely that they do expand, than that they don't. Florida State and Clemson are only two of a number of universities that are rumored to be looking to bolt from conferences like the ACC and Big East, and with such appealing candidates on the table, its hard to believe the Big 12 won't bite.

The good news is, its starting to seem like that conference expansion "Armageddon" we've been expecting will be avoided for now. Still though, any move made is likely to create shockwaves felt down to Conference USA. A loss for the ACC could, in turn, mean losses for the Big East, and as we all know, losses for the Big East could mean losses for C-USA.

If things did turn out like that, it'd be interesting to see how the conference responds. The recent move to 14 schools could've been in preparation for a scenario exactly like this one, as two losses for us would still leave us with 12 members. But, depending on who the losses would be, further expansion might be necessary.

For now, we'll just have to wait and see how things unfold. Again, no exact timetable on expansion has been mentioned for the Big 12, but it has been rumored that a move could be announced within the next couple of months. The Big 12's Spring meetings will continue tomorrow, we'll see what news that brings.