The Big 12 isn't expanding. It might become wealthier for it, but Monday's news that expansion is off the table put an end to the strangest public courtship in college athletics.
Up to 18 schools were named as reported candidates for expansion consideration. State officials weighed in and schools spent good time and money preparing presentation materials to explain why their institution was the right choice for the Big 12. Now the league's left with some potentially reworked television deals and a lot of broken hearts in Cincinnati, Houston and Provo, Utah.
Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard laid out his view of the Big 12's decision in an interview on iHeartRadio. In his opinion, if the strongest teams -- Texas and Oklahoma -- left the conference, the Big 12 would be left getting payouts that are more comparable to the Mountain West.
"At 10 [members] we give ourselves a lot more flexibility down the road versus adding maybe members that would only clutter up the process," Pollard said. "People say, 'In eight years, Texas and Oklahoma are going to bolt.' Well, if we added teams and forced it on them, I guarantee they'd bolt. So that's a part of this process that people aren't thinking about.
"The Big 12 exists because we have Texas and Oklahoma in the room. If we take Texas and Oklahoma out of the room, we're the Mountain West Conference, and we're getting $3 million [per year in TV revenue]."
Pollard also suggested that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was "kind of forced into having to go through this process." He also pointed to Rutgers and Boston College as cautionary tales -- "in Boston College's case, haven't won a game in two to three years in their conference" -- for taking on new members that would "dilute" the league's value.