The Big 12’s decision to invite TCU as the league’s 10th member late last week came very suddenly after reports surfaced that the conference would look to expand in earnest. The move to acquire the Horned Frogs from the Big East was rumored to be a favorable one by many in the Big 12, but it left a question mark as to why TCU, which does not expand the conference’s geographical footprint or bring in any new TV sets, would be chosen over BYU. The Utah school was long considered to be the favorite for the Big 12 if/when the conference needed to replace Texas A&M, which will now join the SEC in 2012.
Last month, Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com reported that TCU”s stock was rising in the Big 12, and BYU’s was falling. Now, we may know why.
The Salt Lake Tribune writes that they have confirmed that the Big 12’s media partners — ABC/ESPN and FOX — were, at the very least, concerned over adding BYU, citing the school’s no-play-on-Sunday policy. An Oct. 7 report by the Tulsa World stated negotiations between BYU and the Big 12 were becoming complicated.
From the Tribune:
“The Tribune has learned that the television partners had concerns with BYU’s no-play-on-Sunday policy and how it might impact television plans as they related to televising non-football sports on Sundays — particularly the Big 12 conference basketball tournament championship game. That game has not been played on Sunday since 2008, but the television partners wanted to retain the Sunday option.
“Additionally, BYU — which left the Mountain West Conference for more national television exposure as a football independent — apparently wanted assurances from the Big 12 that it would appear on national television a minimum, unspecified, number of times per season. The Cougars also were said to want permission to show their football games not picked up by Big 12 television partners on their own television network, BYUtv, which is available in more than 60 million homes nationwide.”
So, for the immediate future, it doesn’t appear that BYU will be on the Big 12’s expansion radar — if the Big 12 decides to expand beyond 10 teams, of course. Interim Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas has stated that the Big 12 plans to proceed as a 10-team league — Missouri included — for 2012.
If the Big 12 does expand, though, the absence of BYU means a greater focus could be placed on Louisville and West Virginia out of the Big East. Just a short while ago, reports surfaced that the Big East has extended invitations to Boise State, Air Force, Navy and UCF; Houston, SMU and Temple are also in the mix. Additionally, the Big East is looking to raise its exit fees to somewhere in the $15 million range.