Next week the SEC will open up the football media day circuit with the start of SEC Media Days in Alabama. The Big 12 will get in on the fun the following week, and you might as well prepare for more discussion about whether or not the Big 12 will or should expand its membership. Oklahoma president David Boren recently lit a fire on the discussion by suggesting the Big 12 is psychologically disadvantaged in the new age of college sports. Texas Tech athletics director Kirby Hocutt did not exactly slam the door shut on expansion during a radio interview this week, but he did seem to plant a foot on the side against expansion.
“There’s a process that is led by [Big 12 commissioner] Bob Bowlsby, who I think is one of the best leaders in college athletics, as well as our president, and I know that we will continue to look at the landscape and be as strategic and proactive as we possibly can be,” Hocutt said, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News. That is a very safe way of suggesting Hocutt is not actively pushing for expansion, but instead would be intrigued by the possibility if it seems to make sense for Texas Tech and the rest of the Big 12.
“We are financially stable, we’re competitively challenged,” Hocutt said. The Big 12 certainly can afford to remain at 10 members with the record revenue coming in this past year, thanks in part to the launch of the College Football Playoff and the money that came with it. But last season the Big 12 saw both Baylor and TCU, co-champions of the conference with one loss each, shut out of the playoff. The omission of Baylor and TCU in favor of Big Ten champion Ohio State sparked some in and around the Big 12 to push for expansion to regain a conference championship game.
Hocutt’s statements suggested the Big 12 would be unwise to not think about possible expansion moves that could benefit the conference in the future. The stability of any conference is dependant on leadership having not just a one or five-year plan, but a 10-year and a 25-year vision for the conference, so Hocutt’s idea the Big 12 should always be on the lookout for what’s best for the conference is solid advice.