Why the Big 12 Is Better Off Sticking with 10 Teams, for Now

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Why the Big 12 Is Better Off Sticking with 10 Teams, for Now
USA Today

If orange is the new black, then 10 is the new 12.

That would be the Big 12, which is happy to stick with 10 teams.

A couple of Big 12's athletic directors told ESPN's Brett McMurphy that the conference is satisfied with the number of teams right now and has no immediate plans for expansion. They more or less echoed what conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said a year ago.

And why not? The Big 12 last fiscal year actually made more money per school than the SEC and ACC, thanks to the lean and mean number of members.

Once on a deathbed, the Big 12 is now thriving with 10 teams. After losing Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC and surviving the then-Pac-10's attempt to poach Texas, Texas Tech and both Oklahoma schools, the Big 12 now has stability following the additions of TCU and West Virginia in 2012.

Not to mention the most fair way to settle the conference championship in football. The Big 12 is the only one of the five power conferences that plays a true round robin, in which every member school faces the rest every season.

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"The conference schedule is absolutely great," West Virginia's Oliver Luck told McMurphy. "Our tagline is 'one true champion.'"

The Big 12's lack of interest in expanding comes as bad news for a handful of schools with aspirations to join the big boys' club.

Cincinnati is one of the few longtime Big East schools not poached by the ACC and thought to be a prime target if the Big 12 decides to expand. BYU has made no secret about wanting in with the Big 12 and shedding its independent status. Both UCF and USF also desire to be in the mix as they're large public schools in the recruit-rich state of Florida.

While this isn't to say that the Big 12 will never expand, there is even less incentive for it to do so if a proposed legislation is passed by the NCAA. The Big 12 is backing an ACC proposal to allow conferences to stage championship football games without the need of having divisions. The legislation might be voted on as early as this August during an NCAA board meeting.

The only thing missing for the Big 12 as compared to the other four power conferences is the title game, which has not been held since 2010, after Nebraska bolted for the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12.

But unless not having a conference championship game proves to be detrimental to the Big 12 in the upcoming College Football Playoff era, there isn't necessarily a reason to stage one. And chances are, the Big 12 might end up having the best of both worlds, getting to have a title game without needing to dilute the cash take for each member school.

Why not have the cake and eat it too, if you can?

 

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