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Conference realignment: Big 12 athletic directors are fortifying the conference

COMMENTARY — As the ADs met in Texas, they looked at ways to make the conference stronger for when the next realignment bubble bursts.
by Berry Tramel Published: January 29, 2013

Big 12 athletic directors met this week to plot strategy. Take that as a sign of progress.

I used to think those guys got together and wistfully recalled the old days. Misty water-colored memories in the corners of their mind.

At least now the Big 12 knows there is only one lane in big-time college sports. The fast lane. Get in gear or lie in fear of being roadkill.

So while the talk floated into football scheduling and bowl alignments and even interleague alliances, under the promising leadership of new commissioner Bob Bowlsby, conference realignment never strayed far from the Big 12 scope.

Big 12 meetings in this era don't just revolve around enhancing the conference. Saving the conference is the issue, too. Fortifying the conference, for when the next realignment bubble bursts.

And burst it will. The Big Ten seems intent on fulfilling some kind of manifest destiny; no school east of the Mississippi is off limits. The Big Ten recently added Maryland and Rutgers; you don't add football lightweights like that to stop at 14 schools. Those additions have to be part of a bigger colonization plan.

According to documents obtained by the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio State president Gordon Gee in December told his university's athletic council that the Big Ten has been talking about expanding past its soon-to-be 14 members and that he “believes there is movement towards three or four super conferences that are made up of 16-20 teams.”

If such prophecy comes to pass, the Big 12 wants to be a buyer, not a seller, in the super conference business. The Big 12 has been mostly flat-footed in the realignment business of the past three years.

Of course, the Big 12 not only liked things the way they were, the Big 12 likes things the way they are. The consensus is to remain at 10 schools.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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