NORMAN — The Big 12 Conference has a rare opportunity to make a good decision today.
When the league presidents and chancellors emerge from their meetings Monday inside a drab board room at DFW airport, Big 12 leadership can make the conference better, or at least slightly more interesting — if temporarily — by expanding its membership and adding two teams.
What the Big 12 will decide (and announce at a 5:30 p.m. press conference) is anybody’s guess. With as many divergent opinions and agendas inside this particular board room, it’s likely the only consensus will be that there is no consensus, and the default setting will be to maintain the status quo.
But that would be a mistake, and here’s why.
The Big 12 needs something. Something new, something different. Needs a change of direction.
The Big 12 status quo has become boring and all too predictable.
This is a football decision, so let’s keep the discussion centered on football.
Here’s the Big 12 narrative every year:
Oklahoma will contend and probably win the title. Texas will be vastly overrated but disappoint. Oklahoma State will boast million dollar facilities and a discount product on the field. Texas Tech will put up huge passing numbers, refuse to play defense and win about half its games. Baylor will score a lot of points but ultimately will fall short of a memorable postseason run. Kansas State will be dull and fundamentally sound and disciplined. Iowa State will promise an improved product but will fall woefully short. And Kansas stinks.
This isn’t just in 2016. It’s every year.
The only two real question marks each autumn anymore hail from Fort Worth and Morgantown. There’s always an unknown factor around TCU and West Virginia, and that’s probably because they’re the newest Big 12 members.
The Big 12 needs to branch out and broaden its horizons.
Add BYU. Add Houston.
Add them as football-only if you want. That would save the women’s soccer teams and baseball teams and all the other non-revenue sports some crazy trips.
But bringing in the Cougars and the Cougars — with written assurances from BYU leadership that the school will address its antiquated policies on LGBT and sexual assault issues — and the league gets a lot more interesting, a lot more unpredictable, and a lot less stale.
BYU brings in an entirely new market, a hungry fan base that has seen the mountaintop but hasn’t been there, really, in three decades. These folks are willing to please, and eager to impress.
And Houston at least slows the drain of both H-Town recruits and H-Town fans and television viewers to the Southeastern Conference. That’s so vital to the Big 12’s long-term health.
The current TV contracts and the grant-of-rights expires in 2025. OU and Texas probably will jump ship before then anyway, and the Big 12 finally will be dead.
But to be as interesting as possible over the next decade, the Big 12 needs to expand.
Challenge the status quo.
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard on The Franchise Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. every weekday with co-host Lauren Rew and most mornings on The Franchise in Oklahoma City. Listen on fm107.9, am1270 on the 107.7 Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page.