Dear Big 12 Board of Directors,
I realize that quotes here and there, or bits of speculation left lying on a dusty coffee table in the internet, or random rumors hatched in the minds of drunken clowns tweeting from beneath their bar stool on a lonely Wednesday night... these things don't necessarily reflect reality. I'm perfectly aware that our assumptions, as fans, may be completely at odds with what you're really discussing, even when those assumptions are driven by comments made by members of your own group.
But I'll have to beg your indulgence here and work with what I've got. And what I've got, I don't like. Not one bit.
Jamie Pollard has indicated to the media that the strong desire of the Board is to remain at ten teams. Now, I admit that his wording could just be taken to indicate that there's only going to be one team coming in for 2012, and if the intention is to add teams later, then okay. Staying at ten teams, however, is simply unacceptable and illogical.
Why? Because six years from now, some of you may want to leave, and that will put us right back where we are right now -- flailing around desperately in search of stability. Worse, six years from now there will be options that are on the table right now which will very likely no longer be there then. Because there's no way we're going to get West Virginia or Louisville or Cincinnati on board to replace Missouri for the 2012 season should they leave, one can only assume that the team Jamie Pollard is referring to when he says you're all mostly in agreement in who the tenth team should be is Brigham Young. Nobody else even makes sense in that respect. If you stand pat now, it's possible you lose your shot at the Big East schools that have been mentioned as likely targets.
Here's the concern, Board members. We don't know, exactly, who's been championing a 10-team league, or a 12-team league, or actively blocking a 12-team league. I am not generally one to claim that we, as fans and alumni, are owed too terribly much from wider organizations than our own schools, but in this case I have to make an exception.
The members of the Big 12 who stand in opposition to boosting the conference's membership to 12 teams so that the conference will still have a shot at survival should some schools opt to bolt after the expiration of the six-year grant of rights need to identify themselves. The constant covering of your backsides so that you can pass blame off on other schools, or on uncontrollable circumstances, or any other hogwash... needs to stop. Just look at what we've been through the last 18 months. The entire cause of the perception that the Big 12 is an unstable mess of egos who don't trust each other can be traced directly to the fact that neither Nebraska nor Texas A&M nor Missouri dealt with everyone -- everyone, meaning their partners in the conference and the public -- in an honest and above-board manner. They spread blame, trying to lay cover for their departure.
You owe it to us to put a stop to that behavior. All of you. If there are those among you who have resisted returning to a twelve-team model who then leave the conference in six years' time, the downfall of the league will then absolutely be your fault. There will be nothing whatsoever you can possibly say or do to deflect it. Sure, I've just given you the incentive to hide your position on the matter now; after all, if we don't really know who refused to budge on this one, we can't throw rotten tomatoes at them in six years.
On the other hand, maybe some freakin' integrity might help rebuild the trust in this conference. Step up, you obstructionists. Let us know exactly why you oppose rebuilding the conference to the point where it can survive more defections. Because as things stand right now, we're only still breathing because TCU was there for the taking, and because Pitt and Syracuse pulled a fast one. If not for that, the Big 12 is still stumbling around looking ridiculous.
Or, you know, you could just announce plans to return to a 12-team format. That would solve the stability problem right there, because we already know that the potential new additions want to be here.
Do the right thing, and stop trying to cling to a status quo that nobody really believes will work. You won't show long-term commitment via a longer-term grant of rights (and I don't blame you, because you really do need to see what the next first-tier contract is going to look like before signing away your very lifeblood), show it by ensuring that the conference will survive your own departure, should such come to pass. You're partners. You're supposed to have one another's backs, even if you're doing so by helping prepare your partners for your own eventual departure.
All of us who've been developing ulcers for the last three months.