Interesting news came out of the Omaha World-Herald this week regarding the Big Ten reportedly looking at a few schools as targets for future expansion:
As a sidenote, two sources have told The World-Herald that the Big Ten has done prior “homework” on Oklahoma, Kansas and Vanderbilt among other schools who might some day be expansion targets. The Big 12 grant-of-rights deal didn’t stop a look-see for OU and KU.
It should be noted that this latest tidbit is according to "two sources" who were not identified, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, it's the offseason, so why not nip this in the bud right now.
Oklahoma is not going to leave for the Big Ten, especially not without Oklahoma State. Sure, the conference prints its own money, but let's consider what would have to happen for Oklahoma to even consider leaving the Big 12 for the Big Ten.
The grant of rights was included in a joint resolution proposed by both the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. In addition to the grant of television rights for at least a six-year period, the proposal included agreements related to high school content and access to football games for institutional third-tier telecast packages.
If the Big Ten wanted Oklahoma, should Oklahoma leave the Big 12?
If a school was open to leaving a conference, it would not have taken part in proposing a resolution that prohibits it from collecting its TV revenues if it chose to leave. Moreover, the Big Ten would probably not be the ideal conference for Oklahoma if it did decide to jump ship.
The Big Ten prides itself on academic prestige. All of its schools are members of the Association of American Universities, except for Nebraska, which was a member but failed to meet the AAU's criteria in 2011.
Neither Oklahoma nor Oklahoma State is an AAU member, but that's not necessarily a game-changer. Notre Dame isn't an AAU member, yet it would be welcomed by the Big Ten with open arms.
But would the Big Ten want Oklahoma and Oklahoma State despite their non-AAU membership?
Those rankings, coupled with both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State not being listed as a Top 100 research institution, don't hurt the Big Ten's academic prestige, but don't help it either.
Another important criteria in expansion for the Big Ten is adding schools in contiguous states. Each Big Ten school's state borders at least one other state with a Big Ten school. Oklahoma does not qualify as a contiguous state since Missouri, which serves as a connection between Oklahoma and three other states with Big Ten schools, is now in the SEC.
Finally, Oklahoma's rivalry with Texas is important since Oklahoma has a well-established pipeline into Texas' high schools.
If Oklahoma were to leave the Big 12, Texas would likely not want to continue its Red River Rivalry series with Oklahoma—why continue a series that offers prospects in Texas an up close and personal view of Oklahoma football?
Why (or if) the Big Ten is targeting Oklahoma is unknown, and while we should never say never, this just doesn't make any financial or geographical sense for either Oklahoma or the Big Ten.
With a roughly $20 million payout from its new media deal, the penalties Oklahoma would incur if it left for the Big Ten will most likely keep Oklahoma in the Big 12 for a very long time.