The Big 12 wrapped up three days of meetings in Phoenix on Wednesday with plenty of discussion but no decisions about its future.
But the possibility of growth, or expansion, may be stronger than in previous years.
Wednesday, conference officials and coaches listened to a presentation from Navigate Research, a Chicago-based consulting and research firm.
Navigate laid out a Big 12 future under different scenarios to Big 12 football coaches. They looked at a league as small as the current 10 teams to one as large as 16 teams and considered different football scheduling models and a season with and without a conference championship game.
“They modeled all possibilities and our coached had questions,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
“It doesn’t mean we would base any decision solely on this. There are more pieces of the puzzle to consider.”
But Bowlsby believes any change to the Big 12 would occur on multiple fronts. Although the league had NCAA permission to hold a championship game with 10 members, a title game, expansion and the development of a league media network — a consolidation of the schools’ third tier rights — “are likely inseparable,” Bowlsby said.
Would expansion and a title game improve the league’s chances of landing a team in the College Football Playoff? Navigate says yes, by 10 to 15 percent, even though there have been only two years of the CFP. The Big 12 missed out after the 2014 season. Oklahoma reached the semifinals after last season.
As Baylor coach Art Briles told reporters in Phoenix on Wednesday, if the Bears had been voted into the playoff in 2014 — or Big 12 co-champion TCU — the Big 12 wouldn’t be as concerned about playoff inclusion.
Revenue is another factor. The Big 12 has been producing record revenue payouts to its schools annually, but the SEC, bolstered by its network, and the Big Ten, on the verge of announcing a new deal, are poised to put financial distance between their schools and those in the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC.
A conference football title game would generate more income for the Big 12.
“If we do nothing, we’ll be substantially behind a decade from now,” Bowlsby said.
No decision on change, if any, is expected until summer. The Big 12’s presidents and athletic officials meet in Dallas from May 31 to June 3.