NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Interim Big 12 Commissioner Chuck Neinas said Saturday the conference has no plans to expand further prior to next season, although that doesn’t mean a move back to 12 teams couldn’t happen eventually.
Leaders of the conference’s schools have been divided over whether the league is best with 10 schools, where it settled after losing Nebraska and Colorado prior to this season, or finding a way to expand back to 12.
With Texas A&M and possibly Missouri headed to the SEC, the Big 12 has added West Virginia and TCU this year in an attempt to stabilize.
“We’ve got to get our house in order. We’re pretty good with 10 or, if Missouri stays, 11,” Neinas said Saturday after helping with the unveiling of a statue of formers Sooners coach Barry Switzer across the street from Owen Field.
“We’ll be very strong and solidified and then once you get that, you do your homework first and everything else takes care of itself.”
Neinas said the Big 12’s expansion committee hasn’t met since deciding last week to add West Virginia instead of Big East rival Louisville.
“The expansion committee will continue to look at the landscape of college athletics and at some point will make a determination what they feel is the best size for the conference,” Neinas said.
Neinas refused to comment extensively on the status of Missouri, which the Big 12 left off its list of 10 teams expected to compete in the conference next season when it added West Virginia. The SEC also inadvertently posted on its website last week that Missouri had been admitted to the league, then had to step back from that premature announcement.
The Sporting News reported Saturday that Missouri would be officially named the SEC’s 14th member “early next week,” citing an anonymous source in the SEC.
“We would anticipate that might happen but … it’s a work in progress,” Neinas said when asked about the Tigers being left off the list of Big 12 teams for next season.
When asked about a timeframe for Missouri’s decision to stay or go, Neinas said: “Selfishly, I hope sooner rather than later.”
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the game between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, declined comment on Missouri.
“That’s for another day,” he said.
Neinas also said the Big 12 is considering whether it could create a network that would be a collaboration of the schools other than Texas and Oklahoma. Texas already has its own Longhorn Network, and Oklahoma is planning one of its own.
“That would be basically a network that could serve the members that don’t have their own institutional-branded networks. We would have a nice inventory to put together, and we’re exploring that,” Neinas said.
Neinas said the league is not contractually allowed to call its channel the Big 12 Network but it could find another name for it. It’s also unclear what, if any, content related to Texas and Oklahoma could appear on the channel.
“We’re not that far along,” Neinas said. “We’re just getting started to see if we can. We’ve got to work on a format, a business plan, all of that first.”
Neinas also said Texas Tech was considered a logical fit to replace Texas A&M as the annual Thanksgiving opponent for Texas but “that has not been finalized.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)