Commissioner Bob Bowlsby addresses attendees to Big 12 Conference Football Media Days Monday, July 20, 2015, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
DALLAS – Bob Bowlsby put on a brave face Monday morning in a darkened hotel ballroom and said the Big 12 would stay the course with only 10 teams. But as we’ve seen in the past, this conference rarely builds consensus. Bowlsby basically acknowledged this might be a fluid opinion.
"It is my understanding at the present time that the majority of our presidents and chancellors believe 10 is the right number for us," Bowlsby said. "There are those that believe we should get larger, and they feel strongly about it. There are those who believe we should stay at 10, and they feel strongly about it. And there are probably four or five in the middle who are persuadable one way or the other. And I think that’s exactly where we’re at."
I have been told by one high-ranking official in the league that Oklahoma president David Boren is in a "vocal minority" when it comes to expansion. Bowlsby said he doesn’t feel like there’s a "critical mass" to add two teams in order to live up to the conference’s name. That was about an hour before Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said he’d prefer 12 teams and a conference title game. I guess Coach Snyder has joined this "vocal minority."
For now, the Big 12 is taking a wait-and-see approach on just about everything: expansion, title game, scheduling and…fieldstorming?
That’s right, Bowlsby said the conference would preserve its fans’ rights to storm the field. Bowlsby said each school will "manage" its situation. He believes that too many traditions have gone by the wayside in recent years. And while I agree with that, I’m not sure storming the court/field is one that should be preserved. We’ve seen some potentially scary situations, especially in basketball. Bowlsby sounded proud the Big 12 wasn’t following other conferences in changing its policy. It’s a trend he should’ve followed.
Bowlsby was pretty direct in his comments that Big 12 teams need to perform a lot better in postseason games. The conference was 2-5 in bowl games last season and 3-3 in 2013. It’s an embarrassing record, but it’s not like Bob can change anything.
His best unintentional humor came when he said there wasn’t "much suspense" about the favorites in the Big 12. He was alluding to the fact that TCU and Baylor grabbed all the first-place votes, but he could’ve done a better job selling his conference. I think what he’s trying to say is that Oklahoma and Texas need to start pulling their weight again. The Longhorns are a combined 2-9 against Top 25 teams the past two seasons. OU checks in at 4-5 over that same period.
The elephant in the room is that wins over those teams aren’t what they used to be. For this conference to land a team in the College Football Playoff, Charlie Strong and Bob Stoops need to get things going. This league can’t hang its hat on one game in late November (Baylor-TCU).
Frogs coach Gary Patterson told me he lobbied for the Bears and Frogs to play late in the season. And right now, Patterson and Art Briles deserve to have a big say in these matters.
Everyone else (including Bowlsby) seems stuck in neutral.