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The Big 12 Talks with Cincinnati, The Big 12 Agreed to Multiple Champion and This is Better than Afternoon Soaps

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A report surfaced yesterday that the Big 12 contacted Cincinnati to discuss expansion, the Big 12 agreed to multiple champions and this is better than afternoon soaps.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 Visits With Cincinnati. According to the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy, the Big 12 has visited with Cincinnati prior to the big College Football Playoff snub:

Big 12 officials recently met with administrators from the University of Cincinnati, a source close to the university told Sporting News. That is not an indication membership will be offered to the Bearcats in the immediate future - only that they would be a candidate were such an expansion to be undertaken.

It is not known how many other universities, if any, have had similar meetings. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby was in New York and unavailable to speak Monday with Sporting News.

Expansion is a complicated matter for the Big 12 because its television contracts, signed with ESPN and Fox in 2012, are scheduled to run through the 2024-25 season. Such deals have been renegotiated in the past with other conferences; in some cases, it was believed the opportunity to reopen television contracts was a motivation for leagues to pursue expansion.

However, aside from Notre Dame - which already declined an opportunity to join the Big 12 and instead chose the ACC - there is no potential member outside of the current "Power 5" conferences whose appeal would lead either network to add substantially to the current Big 12 contracts.

BYU is independent and has a considerable following and already has an ESPN deal through 2018 believed to pay the school in the neighborhood of $1 million for every televised home football game. If the Cougars desired more defined access to the football playoff, it is possible ESPN would make some minor adjustments to its contracts with the Big 12.

Just to get this out of the way, DeCourcy is a long-time Cincinnati writer so he does have sources.  DeCourcy isn't a flighty source and I think his report is legitimate.  I wasn't sure what exactly would put the wheels in motion again, but this is as good as anything.  And I suppose that it's a good thing that the Big 12 was a bit out in front of the CFP issues by meeting with Cincinnati prior to the teams being selected, but I've always been certain that something was going to happen and it wasn't going to be anything exotic or awesome, but these schools and athletic directors all do the same thing that we do, which is look at the logical candidates and go from there.  That means that anyone pining for a Power Five addition is probably dreaming.

The Big 12 Agreed to Multiple Champions. It's amazing how tweeting and re-tweeting things didn't change how Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby handled the process leading up to the CFP decision.  Bowlsby always maintained that the Big 12 previously agreed would not name a champion despite the silly marketing sloan.  I said yesterday that I didn't think that it would have mattered, to name a champion (to play a championship game would have mattered, but that doesn't change Baylor or TCU's resumes) and Kansas AD Sheahon Zenger reminded everyone yesterday that the coaches wanted multiple teams to receive championships:

"This was discussed yesterday with a few of us on the phone," Zenger said. "What's getting overlooked is -- and people talk about our commissioner -- our football coaches distinctly said several years ago, this is how we want it.

"[Bowlsby] was carrying out the will of the people. For kids, you want to give out as many championship opportunities as possible. Maybe five or six months from now when there's only one team standing, this may fade in people's memories a little bit."

So fans getting all blustery that Bowsby didn't name a champion need to go back again and consider that this has been in place for quite some time.

That Doesn't Mean that Bowlsby Doesn't Know How to Troll. On Saturday, Baylor head coach had some harsh words for Bowlsby (I think that Briles is politicking here so I have no problem advocating for your team) but as stated above, the coaches apparently agreed to this process, so Bowlsby did exactly what Briles and all of the other coaches wanted him to do.  That doesn't mean that Bowlsby doesn't know how to troll Baylor, much in the same way that Briles tried to troll Bowlsby after the Kansas State game.  Briles said after the game that he's not obligated to Bowlsby, he's obligated to Baylor.  Fine.  Bowlsby comes back yesterday said that he'd pick TCU ahead of Baylor.  Briles is more than welcome to pick a fight, but he should be ready for folks to fight back.  I wonder if someone would ask Briles and Baylor consented to naming multiple champions (because if multiple teams are champions then I'm certain that coaches get extra bonuses and players get to claim being a champion) or is Briles calling Zenger and Bowlsby liars.

Seriously, this really is better than afternoon soaps, right?

Frank the Tank Says This is All A Big If. Frank the Tank opines that all of this expansion talk is fine and all, but the big "if" is if the Big 12 even wants to expand and it matters as to whether or not the NCAA allows the Big 12's exemption to play a championship game with just 10 teams.  I couldn't agree more in that I think that's an integral part of the decision process here because of money, money, money, but as Tank states, the addition of a championship game along with additional teams possibly going bowling could certainly help.  Tank further states that no matter who the Big 12 adds, they will all have flaws and any addition won't be from a Power Five conference and we're looking at the likely candidates:

This certainly isn't a proverbial slam dunk. Like I've said, the threshold question is whether the Big 12 wants to expand at all (as they are awaiting feedback on their proposal to the NCAA to allow for leagues with less than 12 schools to hold a conference championship game). At the same time, Memphis isn't suddenly a no-brainer addition - there are plenty of open issues, particularly whether its academic reputation would satisfy Texas and if its football success this past year is sustainable. Looking at conference realignment in a vacuum, the two most valuable Group of 5 schools are arguably BYU and UConn, so who knows how the Big 12 views either of those schools. I'll re-state my firm belief that BYU would be a fantastic fit for the Big 12 both on-the-field and financially, but acknowledge that it's the most unpredictable school that I've seen over the past few years of conference realignment both in terms of its own actions and how the rest of the Big 12 perceives the school. If the Big 12 expands and BYU is somehow passed over, then it would be a clear inverse of the Michael Corleone credo: "It's not business, it's just personal". UConn is in a tough spot because it's not a very good fit at all for the Big 12 culturally or geographically, yet it still needs to push hard for a place in that league since it doesn't have any other power conference options forthcoming in the near future. It's all an interesting set of circumstances right now. The last couple of spots in the Big 12 might be the final power conference additions that the college sports world will see in this generation, so the stakes are massive for those schools that have a viable chance.

Miscellaneous. Congrats to LB Pete Robertson and LT LeRaven Clark for being named first team AP All-Big 12.  No other Red Raiders were named to the first or second team . . . Pretty cool story from Sports Illustrated about how college football sideline reporter Sam Ponder took her 5 month old girl with her on the road for the entire football season . . . Grantland's Matt Hinton recaps the College Football Playoff's final four . . . SB Nation has a pretty cool bowl calendar for you to check out and bookmark for the bowl season, because who can keep track all of the bowls?  Only a website can keep track of the bowls. Only a website . . .