Big 12 Media Days are underway at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas, and commissioner Bob Bowlsby wasted no time Monday morning in highlighting a much-needed stretch of success for the Big 12 during the 2017-18 school year.
Just one year after failed expansion and a second College Football Playoff omission still cast a cloud of uncertainty over the conference, the Big 12 is now coming off a year in which it had at least one representative in the College Football Playoff, Final Four, College World Series and Women’s College World Series. That’s a feat that no other Power 5 conference can claim regarding last season, and just one of many points which Bowlsby touched on to get things underway.
And it might just be the launching pad for bigger things to come.
“We have a lot to be thankful for and much to look forward to,” Bowlsby said.
The league may not have another Baker Mayfield this season, per se, though West Virginia quarterback Will Grier has been tabbed my many as a preseason Heisman contender as he leads a Mountaineers offense with plenty of threats at wide receiver. But the impending parity may just make the league that much more exciting to watch — and rewarding for the eventual champion.
“The fact that everybody plays everybody and the fact that we guarantee No. 1 versus No. 2 in the championship game is unlike the way any other conference conducts their business,” Bowlsby said. “Nobody is going to win the Big 12 by who they don’t play. It’s a difficult path but I think it’s one that will serve us well.”
And that especially holds true when considering that 37 percent of the Big 12’s non-conference games in 2018 will be against Power 5 opponents — the highest percentage of such among all Power 5 conferences.
Alas, a blank slate of football is less than two months away. But for now, here are some of the latest housekeeping updates from the commissioner:
Big 12 Media Days on the move...again
Bowlsby announced that Big 12 Football Media Days will be moving to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas for 2019 and 2020. It will mark the second time in a short span that the event has found a new home, as media days were moved from the Omni Hotel in Dallas to the Ford Center in 2017. Bowlsby didn’t give any specifics on how the setup for the event will look 41 miles south of its current home, but the venue has now landed another major event after hosting the 2018 NFL Draft in April and the return of the Big 12 Championship Game last December.
Title game staying put at AT&T Stadium
On the note of AT&T Stadium, the Big 12 Championship Game will stay put at the venue through at least 2021. The contest was played at the venue in 2009 and 2010 prior to its 7-year hiatus, and will now be getting at least three more cracks at it. But with the league’s presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and all the amenities that the stadium offers, it’s hard to see the Big 12 Championship Game leaving Arlington anytime soon.
Playoff expansion talks aren’t going away
The College Football Playoff’s four-team format didn’t do many favors for the Big 12 during its debut in 2014, but the league has rebounded by sending Oklahoma to college football’s edition of the final four twice in the last three years. But two SEC teams making the playoff last season and once again raised questions about whether or not potential expansion is needed.
“There is always the talk about the shape of the playoff and frankly I think it’s been pretty good,” Bowlsby said. “We’ve had good match-ups, we’ve had lots of debate about the size of the playoff. There are those who advocate six, there are those who advocate eight. There are plausible arguments to be made for it.”
Bowlsby didn’t deny either that expansion would benefit the league’s chances at being a regular presence on the sport’s biggest stage. Plausible or not, however, he doesn’t sense that the expansion some Big 12 fans may want to see will be in the cards anytime soon.
“We talk about it all the time on a Big 12 basis and we talk about it frequently at the national level when the ten commissioners get together,” Bowlsby said. “I don’t sense any significant movement to move away from four, but I expect that those discussions will be ongoing.”
And some basketball thoughts as well....
Football may be the center of attention for the next two days, but Bowlsby briefly touched on the “one-and-done” issue that continues to plague NCAA basketball — an issue which he hopes will soon be brought to an end.
“I think it makes a travesty of higher education to have a young person enroll in school in August and play until March and leave before, you know, it isn’t even one and done, it’s seven months and done,” Bowlsby said.
And he made sure to send this message for those who have considered taking that route:
“If you aren’t interested in a college education then you should go and pursue your professional dreams on whatever basis you want to, Europe, G-League and if you’re good enough move it right into the NBA,” Bowlsby said.
Per Bowlsby, the the Big 12 will be informed later today whether or not the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex will be awarded a future men’s Final Four. If so, he’d certainly like for players across the nation to not miss out on that visit thanks to an early exit.