OSU athletic director Mike Holder has an idea to solve the potential scheduling mess of Big 12 football 2012.
Don't laugh. It's not the worst idea out there to solve a problem that is fast becoming critical.
Security, not to mention sanity, in scheduling is collateral damage in the Big 12's revolving door.
Texas A&M and Missouri are going, TCU and West Virginia are coming, but we don't know when on the Mountaineers. Which means the 2012 Big 12 schedule is in flux, and if the courts or the Big East can't be persuaded to let West Virginia soon cross the Cumberland Gap, every Big 12 school will have to add a nonconference game.
“That's problematic,” said Holder. “We had a hard enough time finding a game to fill the void we already had.”
More than anyone, the Sooners are in the hurt locker. Before the conference carousel began, OU had one slot to fill. But TCU was a nonconference opponent for OU in 2012, and the Frogs now become a league game, replacing Texas A&M in the rotation. So the Sooners are looking for two games. If West Virginia can't fill Missouri's void, that would be three openings for OU, less than eight months before the season opens.
West Virginia has told the Big 12 it plans to be out here for the 2012 season. And a common belief is that if the Mountaineers and Big East can't agree, West Virginia will just come and suffer whatever consequences follow.
But who knows what will happen? These are uncharted waters.
If the Big 12 is forced into a nine-team league in 2012, the effect of all nine schools trying to find an extra game would be grave. Waiting on West Virginia affects Big 12 schools in myriad ways:
* The price of paying teams to play. Big 12 associate commissioner Bob Burda said the marketplace — which already is ridiculous in this buy-a-victory sport — would be massively impacted if nine major-conference schools suddenly are scrambling to fill voids.
* Television finances could take a severe hit. The Big 12's television contracts call for a certain number of games over a two-year period. That number was based on a 10-team league.
No West Virginia means nine fewer quality games, and you're not going to make up the deficit with nonconference games.
Already, the Big 12's nonconference slate is looking dim. Here are the scheduled nonconference games:
OU: Notre Dame (with two more to be scheduled).
OSU: Louisiana-Lafayette, at Arizona (the Cowboys have agreed on a third foe, but it's not been finalized).
Texas: Wyoming, New Mexico, at Ole Miss.
TCU: Grambling, Virginia, at SMU.
Baylor: Sam Houston State, SMU, at Louisiana-Monroe.
Texas Tech: Northwestern Louisiana, at Texas State, New Mexico.
Iowa State: Tulsa, at Iowa, Western Illinois.
Kansas: South Dakota State, Rice, Northern Illinois.
Kansas State: Miami, North Texas, Missouri State.
What's that, six marquee games, with a few more decent matchups? That doesn't look like a schedule that will excite the networks.
* For a school like OU, which is trying to fill nonconference slots unrelated to West Virginia, the Big 12 schedule is paramount, because the league might need the Sooners to play a conference game in September, since there aren't enough quality nonconference games to satisfy the networks. So even when the Sooners find a possible opponent, the date could be a problem.
* Inconveniencing fans. The 2011 Big 12 schedule wasn't released until the first week of May 2011. Every school knew who and where it would play, it just didn't know for sure when.
Now, we could be headed to spring again before knowing the 2012 schedule.
“It's a problem,” Holder said. “It's more a problem for our fan base. People want to schedule weddings and make other plans relative to the football schedule. We get queries almost every day. It's disconcerting for a lot of people.”
It's a mess. A total mess. The Big Mess Conference.
I suppose it could have been an even bigger mess had the Big 12 tried to keep Missouri from bolting. But the Big 12 was contractually unable to hold Mizzou hostage the way the Big East has its locks into West Virginia.
Burda said the league must deliver a schedule to the television networks by Feb. 1. Clearly, the Big 12 has nine- and 10-team scheduling models ready to go. It's just waiting for clarity and clearance.
The Big East and West Virginia are undergoing mediation to resolve their dispute. Burda hopes something is settled by the Feb. 1 deadline.
He's not the only one.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.