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Big 12 Expansion Officially Off (for now)

The expansion saga is over, unless it isn’t.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Day Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The back and forth saga that is Big 12 expansion took a left turn Monday afternoon, as conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that expansion was off the table...

... for now.

After the called meeting ended far earlier than anticipated Monday in Dallas, rumors began swirling that the Big 12 had voted to not expand. Hours later, the rumors were confirmed, as Bowlsby took the podium to say that not only was the conference not expanding, but implied it was a non-issue going forward.

"We do not consider it an active agenda item," Bowlsby said when asked if expansion was still on the table.

But, because it’s the Big 12, and no one knows what they’re talking about, Oklahoma president David Boren followed it up by leaving the door open for future growth.

"We would never say never," Boren said, though he confirmed that the issue was not under discussion anymore. "We don’t feel a sense of urgency to expand just for expansion’s sake.”

Over the weekend, it appeared that none of the leading candidates had secured the eight vote super-majority required to be considered for the conference going forward, but Bowlsby and the presidents of the ten member institutions still heard pitches from Houston, Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Southern Methodist, Air Force, Central Florida, Colorado State, Connecticut, Rice, South Florida and Tulane. Things got truly crazy Sunday evening when it was announced that BYU TV would be carrying the presser live, and Monday as a snapchat photo appeared to show logos for the Big 12 and Cincinnati being printed together.

Most outsiders believe that the vote was less about individual schools than it was the conferences television partners, ESPN and Fox, who were less than thrilled with the thought of having to pay out for two to four more schools, especially schools that weren’t considered strong candidates to begin with. It is expected that instead of paying out in excess of $25 million dollars more per school per year, the TV partners will give more money to the ten existing members.

“We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference. We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference,” Fox Sports President Eric Shanks said earlier this month at Sports Media and Technology conference, according to the Sports Business Journal.

Expansion candidates were less than thrilled with the announcement, as you might imagine:

And rightfully so, I might add, as they spent a significant amount of time and money parading themselves in front of a dog and pony show that it seems never expected to announce a medalist.

While the conference is eligible to add a championship game in 2017, it has yet to announce that it will do so. And honestly, while the added revenue will be nice, it’s unlikely to add any stability to the floundering ‘power’ broker. Meanwhile, OU’s Boren, often rumored to be flirting with ever other Power 5 girl at the party, left fans with the ultimate kiss of death:

"What I've heard in last 24 hours was the strongest expression of cohesion I've ever heard ... no one is looking to go elsewhere," he said.

All we know is that we don’t know anything. This disaster is far from over.