For those members of the Big 12 who are fans of title games and money, Friday was a very good day.
In the biggest news of the afternoon, commissioner Bob Bowlsby revealed that the conference has approved a measure that will allow for the implementation — or re-implementation, as the case may be — of a league championship game in football. The return of the Big 12 title game will come at the end of the 2017 regular season, although details, such as location, are still up in the air.
In perhaps the most surprising news coming out of this particular development, the vote to reinstate the title game was unanimous.
The first-ever Big 12 title game in football coincided with the league’s first season in 1996. It was played every year through the 2010 season, when conference expansion — the league lost Colorado and Nebraska prior to the 2011 season — and NCAA rules forced the Big 12 to abandon the game. In January of this year, the Big 12 won approval to stage a championship game without 12 members as previously required by the NCAA.
The Big 12 will continue on with its round-robin schedule — every team playing the other nine schools every season — as required by the new rule. On twist, however, is that, per Bowlsby, the Big 12 will likely split into two, five-team divisions; how those divisions will be split is to be determined.
And now we come to the money portion of the program, as it relates to this topic specifically and revenue in general.
That financial windfall is on top of the $30.4 million in revenue distribution each member institution received for the previous year, Bowlsby announced Friday. That’s up 20 percent from a year ago, and third among Power Five conferences behind only the SEC and Big 10. It also doesn’t include third-tier media rights (Texas makes $15 million from that category, Oklahoma $6 million).
There won’t, however, be an additional revenue stream for conference membership as a whole as Bowlsby also confirmed that the conference has scrapped its plans for a league-wide television network. “Not the time for us to consider [a network],” the commissioner stated, with Oklahoma president David Boren saying the idea is effectively dead..
One final note: the conference’s board has authorized the Big 12 staff to work with consultants on “conference composition” — i.e. expansion. Earlier this month, Bowlsby stated that he hoped the expansion issue would be resolved, one way or the other, before the end of summer.
It still appears unlikely that the Big 12 will add two additional members — Texas is believed to be staunchly against expansion — but it’s a situation that will bear monitoring throughout the next couple of months.