Big 12 has incentive$ to grow again

If there’s one thing that can distract many University of Louisville supporters from basketball and March Madness, it’s the continuing suspense of the conference expansion issue and the next hand to be played.

The real question, the one that keeps many of us on the edge of our seats, is whether Louisville will be extended an invitation to join the Big XII Conference. Becoming a member of the club, getting initiated into one of the elite football conferences, would be the next giant advancement for the university.

Analysts have indicated that before U of L received an invitation, several things had to happen. They included the completion of an exit agreement between the Big East and West Virginia, the expansion of the Big East to include more football programs, and the agreement between the Big XII and the TV networks. The first two have occurred, and a TV deal appears to be near.

Brett McMurphy and Dennis Dodds of reported Tuesday:

The Big 12’s current deal with ESPN/ABC doesn’t expire until 2016, but the conference and networks have been negotiating what is being termed an extension. The 13-year deal worth is expected to be worth at least $200 million annually through 2025. The deal is expected to “sync up” with a $1.2 billion, 13-year deal signed with Fox in April.

The new deal is for 18-20 top tier games per year according to industry sources. This new deal is based on a 10-team league and sources said it could be worth even more per school if the Big 12 expands to 11 or 12 teams.

If the deal goes through, each school would receive approximately $21 million a school annually. But, but yes, even more if the Big 12 expands to 11 or 12 teams. Guess who is said to be first in line if that occurs, followed closely by Brigham Young University.

Anything could happen, nothing could happen. Notre Dame keeps being mentioned as a wild card, along with Clemson and Florida State. They deny interest but that’s the public face. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes.

Just imagine what an athletic director like Tom Jurich could do with those kinds of resources, on top of what has been accomplished in the past decade with an absolute transformation of the athletic facilities. Hard to envision but he’s an individual with great vision.

The next few weeks and months are going to be tense for the university, no matter how Louisville fares in NCAA basketball.  So close, so many obstacles to clear, but that goal seems tantalizingly close. Let it happen. Please.

Big 12 talking expansion again, Louisville being mentioned

Navy’s announcement Tuesday that it would join the Big East Conference for football starting in 2015 may have been the first shot in the next round of conference realignment.

An unlikely source is optimistic that the University of Louisville may be next to call the movers:

The Chonicle on Higher Education:

Expansion talk is on the table again in the Big 12 Conference, with the addition of at least one new member “very possible,” two high-ranking officials told The Chronicle.

The University of Louisville, which the league considered adding last year when it brought on Texas Christian and West Virginia Universities, is the likeliest choice, according to people with knowledge of the talks. Brigham Young, another university the conference has considered, continues [to be included in the discussions as well].

Brett McMurphy, of CBS Sports, who has been more accurate than anyone else on expansion issues, also tweeted that the Big 12 is discussing expansion again deciding whether it wants 10, 11 or 12 teams, and that Louisville is considered a “slam dunk” if the league goes to 11 teams.

From another source, the barber, relating that coaches were told a couple of weeks ago to “get their packages ready.”

In other news, McMurphy revealed that Brigham Young and East Carolina (a natural candidate for the Big East) will have a home-and-home series in football in 2017 and 2018. Wonder how the theorists will spin that one?

Ready for BYU, Boise State in the Big East

This Big East Conference is hard at work at becoming much more relevant where it matters most — in football.

ESPN is reporting that Brigham Young (BYU) is giving serious consideration to becoming a football-only member, bringing with it some serious respect and a built-in national following of fans second only to Notre Dame.

Boise State and Houston, currently ranked 10th and 11th nationally in the most recent BCS standings, are reportedly close to accepting invitations as well. Boise State would be football only, Houston for all sports.

The longer this conference realignment takes, the better the situation looks for the University of Louisville, which desperately needs the Big East Conference to retain its automatic qualifier status until 2014 and beyond. Adding BYU, Boise State and Houston would almost guarantee that while making the Big East stronger than it is now.

Other new members being mentioned have included Air Force and Navy in football, and UCF and SMU in all sports — all of them with strong commitments to their football programs. BYU would be a good replacement for Air Force, which is said to have been wavering of late.

Concerned about basketball? Don’t be. The Big East will continue to be a major basketball power, with the likes of Louisville, UConn, Marquette, Villanova, Notre Dame, Cincinnati, St. John’s, and Georgetown.

There may be advantages to shedding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia from night in and night out grind of Big East basketball as well. But the football schedule is about to become even more challenging.

Oklahoma’s David Boren not encouraging

Difficult to accept, but the University of Louisville’s conference future may lie in the hands of one David Boren, the president of the University of Oklahoma.

Boren, oddly enough, is one of the advocates of increasing the Big 12’s conference membership to 12 programs by adding three schools. But in the same breath he adds, “If we were to rush out and get less than top flight members I think that would be a mistake.”

If we are to take him literally, that means that Boren is less than enamored with some of the schools among the leading candidates, which include Brigham Young, TCU, Air Force, Louisville, West Virginia and Cincinnati. The followers of the schools not selected will justifiably be offended by Boren’s ill-timed and badly-phrased declaration.

Boren, a former Oklahoma governor and three-term U.S. Senator, is used to having his way. A recent exception was the failed effort to get OU and Oklahoma State into the PAC 12 conference. He was president at OU when former U of L football coach Howard Schnellenberger resigned after his first season.

He told John Hoover of the Tulsa World that he prefers BYU, TCU or Air Force to get to 10, or all three for 12.  We are left to assume that Boren lumps U of L, WVU and Cincinnati among the less than “top flight.”

Oklahoma Scribe Likes Louisville For Big Twelve

Yeah, more conference expansion blather …

And wouldn’t it be fun lining up across from a Bobby Petrino team?

Guess which school the largest newspaper in the Oklahoma believes would be the best candidate for Big Twelve Conference expansion if that league were successful in getting Arkansas to return.

Barry Tramel,  writing for The Oklahoman, says it would be the University of Louisville, keeping in mind that conference commissioner Dan Beebe has said the conference will not expand beyond its current five-state configuration:

  • “Comes from a decent-sized television market, No. 49 in the U.S., which is bigger than Memphis, New Orleans and Buffalo.
  • “Has a solid athletic program; in the 2000s, Louisville has won the Orange Bowl in football and reached the men’s Final Four, the women’s basketball NCAA championship game and the College World Series.
  • “Is an adequate geographic fit. Louisville is 508 miles from Kansas City, Mo. Boulder, Color is 622 miles from KC. Kentucky borders Missouri.
  • “Might be interested. The Big East is more vulnerable than the Big 12. The Big East reportedly is contemplating Central Florida and Memphis, which is not the kind of football move that will ensure long-term viability.”

His other candidates, in order, were Brigham Young, New Mexico, Air Force, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati.