While the rumors are running rampant that everyone from Clemson and Florida State to Miami and Notre Dame might be interested in possibly joining the Big 12, the reality is that the conference itself hasn’t even stated that it’s interested in moving beyond anything in the current 10-team structure that it has. With the losses of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, the conference made moves to gain West Virginia and TCU. It’s a selection of teams that everyone in power — new commissioner Bob Bowlsby and interim Chuck Neinas — insist they are fine with.
Yet the move to bring the Big 12 and the SEC together with a bowl partnership in recent weeks has brought speculation that the two conferences will become the new powers in college football, which likely means that schools will try to jump on the Big 12 side of things given their current size of 10 versus the SEC’s 14.
“People have to understand that bigger is not necessarily better,” Neinas said. “What we are trying to do, in view of what has transpired in the past, is to build unity. We have two new members. Let the membership be comfortable with each other before they ever consider going forward.
“We’ve taken care of the contentious issues. We have a very workable solution. Let’s build on that, then down the road maybe think of expansion. But to automatically run off and say, they’re going to go to 12 or 14 or whatever — that does not take into account where this conference was, where we’ve come from and where we need to go.”
It’s interesting that Neinas continues to speak at all for the conference when he’s clearly on his way out and this will be Bowlsby’s fight to take on. Yet Bowlsby will have to adjust to the job and all of that takes time. It’s likely that while rumors continue to churn, the reality will be the same as it is now in one or even three months from now.