Oklahoma president David Boren spoke the company lines you would expect to come out of the Big 12 meeting of presidents on Monday. The man who has sparked the push for expansion for over a year suddenly was speaking about the strength and unity of the Big 12 as if magically everything was all good between Big 12 members. Not many people seemed to buy that thought, and the skepticism about the future of the conference remains rampant. How strong the conference is compared to its power conference peers is very much up for debate, including within the Big 12 itself.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard suggested the Big 12 would be about even with the Mountain West Conference if Oklahoma and Texas ever decided to leave the group, which remains a possibility some seem to think is inevitable (even if years away from happening).
“We’ve got two star players, whether people want to like that or not, Texas and Oklahoma,” Pollard said Tuesday in a radio interview in Des Moines. “I’m glad to be on a team that’s got two great players. We benefit from being on that team. We could go play on a team and be the star, but then people would be saying, ‘How do you get us in one of those Power 5 conferences, Mr. AD?'”
It’s not very often you hear an aD speak as though his program is just happy to be a part of the same group as the cool kids, but that’s pretty much how Pollard’s comments look. And honestly, who could blame him? Iowa State has always sort of just latched on to the company they happened to be surrounded with, and there is nothing particularly wrong with that. Heck, if not for Texas and Oklahoma, Iowa State might be in the Mountain West Conference or Conference USA.
Pollard also recognizes this sets up a narrative for the Big 12 to be ripped if/when the conference fails to send a team to this year’s College Football Playoff, which would be the second time in the three years of the new playoff format.
“I guarantee as it appears today, somebody’s not going to get in the College Football Playoff this year. If it’s a Big 12 team, I can guarantee somebody’s going to say, ‘It’s because the Big 12 didn’t expand.’ I guarantee that will be the narrative, because it’s an easy narrative to pick on,” Pollard said. “But I’d remind them, it’s never quite as clear as any of us would like it to be.”
That’s true too, and each season will write a different story as it relates to the College Football Playoff. But the Big 12 needs to find a way to write a new chapter.
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