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How did the Big 12 Conference let Louisville get away?

COMMENTARY — Cardinals' multisport success shows once again the Big 12 missed the boat by not adding them to the league.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 30, 2013

Louisville's softball team came through Oklahoma last weekend. Beat the top-ranked Sooners, who in non-Louisville games are 29-1.

Louisville's women's basketball team is here this weekend, in the Sweet 16 against top-ranked Baylor.

Louisville men's hoops seems to be the nation's best team. The Cardinals play Sunday for their 10th Final Four; they've been to regional finals four times in the last six years.

Louisville's baseball team beat Notre Dame on Friday night. No big deal until you realize the Fighting Irish are ranked 15th nationally, and the 'Ville is 10th.

And don't forget, the last time we saw Louisville's football team, the Cardinals were winning in a rout. Over Florida. In the Sugar Bowl.

Now is as good a time as any for our quarterly lamentation. How did the Big 12 ever let Louisville get away?

We knew it in October, when Louisville accepted an invitation to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Then again in January, when the 'Ville took a 33-10 lead on Florida and won 33-23. And we know it now.

The Big 12 missed the barge. The Big 12 stayed reactive instead of proactive. I tried to tell them. OU athletic director Joe Castiglione tried to tell them. David Boren and his pal, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, tried to tell them.

Louisville was a no-risk addition. Adding Louisville didn't mean the Big 12 had to commit to a 12-school format, but it would have positioned the conference to more easily expand, if that became the goal. Maybe best of all, Louisville would have been a morale boost to a beleaguered conference.

Yes, each Big 12 school would have taken a slightly lower television payout. Whatever value the 'Ville added would have been a little low to offset the extra mouth to feed. But think of the pragmatic benefits Louisville would have provided.

Especially this time of year. Another heavyweight in March Madness. Kansas' shoulders are getting tired, carrying the rest of the conference the way the Jayhawks have in recent years.

Think of Kansas City — or hopefully Oklahoma City — hosting a Big 12 Tournament with Louisville. A quarterfinal docket of Kansas-Texas, Louisville-OU, OSU-Iowa State, Kansas State-West Virginia. Are you kidding me?

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist and Reporter
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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