Expect a Big 12 football schedule for 2012 by next Wednesday.
Contracts with partners ESPN/ABC and Fox mandate that a schedule be released by Feb. 1 according to a league spokesman. That suggests there will be some finality in a process that has been up in the air since West Virginia was welcomed into the conference on Nov. 4.
“That’s the deadline [Feb. 1] we’re working off of,” the Big 12’s Bob Burda said Wednesday morning.
While there could be shifting of dates for TV purposes after that date, the schedule – with or without West Virginia – would probably be released publicly at the same time, “given where we are on the calendar and the sensitivity of people wanting to plan,” Burda said.
He added that the league had schedule contingencies both ways with West Virginia in or out of the Big 12. A Rhode Island judge has directed West Virginia and the Big East into non-binding mediation to resolve their lawsuits. The two sides have sued each other over a Big East bylaw that requires 27 months’ notice before leaving the league. West Virginia wants to join the Big 12 in 2012. The Big East bylaw would keep it in that conference through the 2013-14 school year.
Asked Tuesday when a 2012 schedule for his conference might be released, Big East commissioner John Marinatto said: "I’m really not going to give up a comment on that at this time."
Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas has long said it has received assurances from the school that West Virginia will be in for the 2012 football season. Earlier Monday, he told a Lubbock, Texas radio station that the 2012 football schedule would be out by Feb. 1.
If West Virginia is not in for 2012, that would put the Big 12 at nine teams and likely trigger network contract language regarding payouts if membership falls below 10 teams. Additionally, the nine teams would be put in a scheduling bind having to find an extra non-conference game at a late date.
Putting the current schedule delay in perspective: The base schedule for the 2011 season was completed in September or October 2010. After adjustments by networks and schools, it wasn’t out publicly until March and April 2011. The Big 12 has lost four teams since June 2010 (Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M, Missouri). It has added TCU and West Virginia beyond the 2011 season.
The SEC and Pac-12 have already announced their 2012 schedules, both between late December and early January.