Monday’s news that the Big 12 will stay at 10 members and remove expansion from its active agenda drew plenty of attention and analysis from media across the country.
For the 11 finalist schools that interviewed with the Big 12 last month — which included expected front-runners BYU, Cincinnati and Houston — the news was a blow to their hopes of gaining access to a Power 5 conference.
For the most part, though, the conference was panned for the process it chose to explore expansion since the league began looking into its options after being left out of the College Football Playoff in 2014.
Most national pundits shared the sentiment that the Big 12 displayed dysfunction throughout the process, and it isn’t going away.
Here’s a look at what some columnists nationwide had to say about the Big 12 after Monday’s news:
Fox Sports’ Stewart Mandel was among the most critical of the expansion process the Big 12 employed, which included commissioner Bob Bowlsby vetting 20 candidates after the league openly called for institutions to contact the Big 12 if they desired to be a part of the expansion search.
Mandel said the process created a system in which college institutions were made to grovel in hopes of gaining access to a more prestigious — and lucrative — Power 5 conference. He called for an apology from the Big 12 to the interested parties after conference leaders acknowledged no individual candidates were discussed in Monday’s meeting.
“The whole thing was like a twisted beauty pageant where nobody gets to wear the crown,” Mandel wrote.
He later said, “They blew off a whole bunch of earnest people who just wanted to associate with them. They ticked off their TV partners. And they subjected themselves to a new level of mockery.”
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd called the process a “complete waste of time” with no clear winners.
“In the end, the Big 12 is the conference that cried wolf — of Cincinnati of BYU or Tulane. It’s the league that doesn’t know what it wants," Dodd wrote.
“The expansion process was a taffy pull with no winner, but everyone still felt very sticky in the end.”
Kirk Bohls, who covers the Big 12 and Texas football for the Austin American-Statesman, called out the conference for making the expansion candidates go through a three-month process that was ultimately fruitless.
“The interested parties wasted tons of money — in one case, up to $100,000 — manpower, time and energy putting together voluminous presentations to make their pitch only to be told thanks, but no thanks. Guess they got some good exposure out of the deal, but that’s a sad parting gift,” Bohls wrote.
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg said the 15-month process of exploring expansion possibilities exposed flaws in the conference itself.
“In not expanding and, equally important, not extending its grant of rights, the Big 12 possibly signed its own death warrant Monday. It remains the most vulnerable league,” Rittenberg wrote.
Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, meanwhile, credited the Big 12 for making what he called the right decision this time. While criticizing the league for past mistakes in the expansion process — including allowing Oklahoma president David Boren to draw so much attention to issues surrounding the league — Mellinger said the Big 12 simply did not find the right value in the expansion candidates.49 comments on this story
"The league is still together, made the best decision, and did minimal damage to itself," Mellinger wrote. "The conference’s grant-of-rights agreement has nine more years on it, and the same thing is true today that has always been true — the league will be together as long as it is the best place for Texas and Oklahoma to make money and pursue championships.
"And if it turns out they’re able to get more money from their broadcast partners, then the Big 12 is being widely ridiculed for one of the stealthiest power moves in recent college sports history."
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