UPDATED 8:20 p.m. ET: In an interview with Lubbock radio station Double-T 104.3 FM, Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas said he did not anticipate the conference expanding beyond 10 teams anytime soon.
“I don’t anticipate there’s going to be a movement off 10,” Neinas said. “It could happen down the road, but we definitely won’t be beyond 10 for 2012-2013 and there is strong feeling within the membership that 10 provides the opportunity for round-robin in football and you play everyone in basketball twice …
“That seems to be appealing to the conference members. To go beyond that will take a lot of research and hard thinking.”
I don’t think it’s any real secret that Texas and Oklahoma wish to keep the Big 12 at 10 members, but take Neinas’ comments for what they’re worth.
Although West Virginia and the Big East have made several headlines over the past few months with their dueling lawsuits over conference realignment, very little progress seems to have been made — at least on the surface.
Both sides filed motions to dismiss the other’s lawsuit; both motions were denied. WVU’s best chance to leave the Big East and land in the Big 12 by this year remains the non-binding mediation the two have been ordered into by a Providence County Superior Court Judge.
A status conference for that mediation has been set for Feb. 9.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 is schedule-less, yet hopeful, at the hands of WVU’s ongoing legal battle. Per Chris Level of RedRaiderSports.com, the Big 12 is planning to release its football schedule on Feb. 1 because the conference’s contract with its TV partners.
That’s also National Signing Day.
Still, the Big 12 needs WVU on the schedule next year to avoid a financial penalty from some of their media rights partners. Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has stated over and over that he has received full confidence from WVU that the Mountaineers will be a member by July 1.
Currently, rumors are beginning to swirl that perhaps — maybe — the Big East and WVU have negotiated or are negotiating an exit settlement for the Mountaineers. Keep in mind that’s far from confirmed.
But the Big 12′s future may not be done with West Virginia, either, if/when that finally works out. Brett McMurphy of CBSSports reports today that the Big 12 expansion committee has a meeting today to decide if the conference will go to 11 or 12 teams, or stay at 10.
So, in other words, yes, we’re having this discussion again. Remember, the Big 12 is still very much an unsettled conference.
McMurphy goes on to say that Louisville is the “slam dunk” choice if the Big 12 were to go to 11 — the Cardinals almost beat out West Virginia a few months ago for that 10th spot — and BYU would be back in the mix if the conference expanded to 12 members.
An interesting tidbit from yesterday’s Big East teleconference was that Navy felt football independence didn’t have a bright future.
BYU just finished its first season as a football independent, but with conference realignment being as volatile as it is, and with conferences now beginning to pair up for non-conference matchups, perhaps Navy is right.
To be clear, though, the overall feeling is that the Big 12 is still divided on expansion.
For their sake, hopefully some clarity is coming in the next few weeks.