Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby yesterday said that league ADs "expressed unanimous support for exploring a scheduling and marketing alliance with the ACC and other conferences during a Monday meeting but did not close the door on the possibility of future expansion," according to Jimmy Burch of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Bowlsby said that Big 12 administrators "seek to prepare themselves for 'any eventuality' on the realignment front." Bowlsby added, "Anybody we would look at would have to bring pro rata or a very high likelihood of sustained growth that would bring benefits to the league." He also acknowledged expansion by other leagues "could force the Big 12's hand." But the league's "favored option, expressed in a unanimous vote" at yesterday's meeting, would be an "alliance with the ACC and two other leagues Bowlsby declined to name" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/29). An ACC spokesperson "declined comment, with discussions on the proposal only in the preliminary stage." In Pittsburgh, Jerry DiPaola notes the Pac-12 and Big Ten had "announced the framework for a similar alliance more than a year ago, but the arrangement never materialized" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/29). CBSSPORTS.com's Jeremy Fowler reported an ACC source "floated the idea" about an ACC-Big 12 network, but that "appears unlikely and Bowlsby said the alliance discussions don't involve a multi-conference network." Big 12 schools have "their third-tier rights tied up." It would be "cumbersome to break such deals up" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/28).
PICKING & CHOOSING: Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self said that he would be "highly selective about the kinds of schools the Big 12 would invite to join the league." Self said, "Ten is a good number. I think from an AD's perspective, if the money is not going to be a heck of a lot more, it's pretty nice to split it among 10 than it would be to split it between 16" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/29). West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins said that "basketball's wishes will be an afterthought." He said, "If football doesn't like it, we're probably gonna expand" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 1/29).
ON SCHEDULE? ESPN.com's Brian Bennett wrote the most "pressing, and arguably most important" issue Big Ten ADs will face involves "figuring out how many times to play each other during the season." Commissioner Jim Delany said that he would "like to see more conference games." Michigan AD Dave Brandon and Ohio State AD Gene Smith both said that they "favored that idea when the Big Ten balloons to 14 teams." Purdue AD Morgan Burke said, "If you have some teams with five home games and others with only four, do you really have a true champion?" But Bennett noted a 10-game schedule "would bring its own share of obstacles." Bennett wondered if the extra inventory of conference games will "add enough value to the Big Ten's next TV contract to make up for the loss of home dates." Smith added that with "only two nonconference games, schools could potentially avoid paying huge guarantees to lower-level conference teams to fill out their schedule." Brandon said, "We have a stadium that we’re putting 112,000 people in every week. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be shutting that stadium down and not playing as many events, and going to places where you’re playing in front of crowds that are far less" (ESPN.com. 1/28).
Aresco said the Big East name has built up a great deal of brand equity
ATLANTIC DRIFT? The AP's Joe Kay reported the Atlantic 10 and Commissioner Bernadette McGlade are "waiting to see" how the Catholic 7 situation plays out. McGlade said, "All of the swirling speculation about conference realignment is in some respects a little exhausting. And it takes away from the present, which happens to be so positive and so successful." McGlade noted that the A-10 is in a "solid position with its scheduling, eight-year television deal and a conference tournament moving from Atlantic City to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn." She said, "I know my presidents. They're smart people. They're going to evaluate any opportunity that may arise very carefully, along with the strong opportunity they have right now in the A-10" (AP, 1/28).