As rumors swirled about the imminent departure of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, one of the conference’s most legendary coaches called for calm Sunday.
“The Big 12 came thru this before and will again,” Bill Snyder, a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, wrote on Twitter. “Keep the faith. Bob Bowlsby and school Presidents are good leaders-negative talk won’t help.”
The Big 12 came thru this before and will again. Keep the faith. Bob Bowlsby and school Presidents are good leaders-negative talk won't help— Bill Snyder (@CoachBillSnyder) July 25, 2021
At the time of his retirement from Kansas State after 27 seasons in December 2018, Snyder had amassed 123 wins in Big 8/12 play — the second most all-time, trailing only Nebraska’s Tom Osborne (153). Yet the fate of the league is uncertain following Monday’s news: as expected, Texas and Oklahoma informed the Big 12 that they will not renew their grants of media rights when the deal expires in 2025.
“Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement,” the schools wrote in a joint statement Monday morning. “The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.”
Hours later, Bowlsby responded with a statement of his own, noting that the other eight members of the 10-team conference “are disappointed with the decisions” of Texas and Oklahoma.
“We recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”
Of course, the Big 12 even existing beyond 2025 isn’t guaranteed.
Speculation about the fate of the other eight schools has continued unabated since the rumors of Texas and Oklahoma’s interest in the SEC surfaced last week.
A popular game among the various fan bases has been trying to find a way to link their school to one of the other Power 5 conferences, be it the Big Ten, Pac-12 or ACC. Perhaps for an unlucky member or two, a demotion to a non-Power 5 league, such as the Mountain West or American Athletic Conference, is in store. As Bowlsby noted, the conference’s top officials will try to keep the rest of the league together, while potentially expanding back to a numerically correct 12 schools — or perhaps growing beyond a dozen member institutions.
Whether the Big 12 expands, contracts further or eventually disappears, one politician said following Monday’s developments, the conference people have known since its inception in 1996 has ceased to exist.
“This is a sad day for sports fans and the end of the #Big12 as we know it,” U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, a Republican who previously represented Manhattan in the House, wrote Monday in a tweet from his personal Twitter account. “I have faith @kstatesports and @KUAthletics will do what is best for their athletes, and our resilient universities will come out of this realignment stronger than ever.”
This is a sad day for sports fans and the end of the #Big12 as we know it. I have faith @kstatesports and @KUAthletics will do what is best for their athletes, and our resilient universities will come out of this realignment stronger than ever. https://t.co/tCzC8t4UmC— Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) July 26, 2021