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BYU With Oklahoma & Texas Illustrates ‘Weirdness’ Of Big 12 Meetings

Jun 1, 2022, 11:11 PM | Updated: 11:38 pm
Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference...
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby admits the 2022 spring meetings have some "weirdness" to them. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

IRVING, Texas – For right now, BYU is attending meetings in the same Big 12 Conference as Oklahoma and Texas. That is a weird thought. A thought that many Cougar fans dreamed of a lot over the past decade, but likely never believed would come to fruition.

Things get even more unusual when BYU isn’t the only new face at the meetings. But three additional newcomers in UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston are also attending the Big 12’s meetings while still members of the American Athletic Conference.

Then there’s that cloud of uncertainty about when the Longhorns and Sooners will leave for the SEC. Is it earlier than 2025 when the Big 12’s grant of rights expires?

 

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Again, these are weird thoughts. But it’s a reality for the Big 12 Conference during their spring meetings this week and until the two bell cows move on to the SEC after June 30, 2025.

“This meeting has got some weirdness to it,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby on Wednesday to reporters.

Color Code the agenda

Speaking of Bowlsby, he’s soon to be retired, and there’s no word yet on who will be the next commissioner. That brings even more of an awkward dynamic to these meetings that saw the athletic directors discuss the future of Big 12 football at length on Wednesday.

“We almost feel like we have to color code the agenda because we’ve got some that the eight would talk about and some things the 10 would talk about. Then some the eight remaining and the four new would talk about and there’s going to be some things that the 14 of us are going to talk about,” Bowlsby said. “It would be less than forthright not to admit that there is some strangeness to it and perhaps some periods when there’s a little bit of tension.”

Despite the sometimes tense and weird vibes, everyone is working to find the positives in the situation.

“It just is what it is,” said Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione when asked about the uniqueness of talking to two different leagues about scheduling. “We’re here with four universities that are entering the Big 12 at some point. One in 2023, the others may be as early as ’23 or ’24, I think is what the announcement was. So, it’s a unique dialogue, but everybody’s been very professional and cordial.”

The awkwardness for Oklahoma was expected after declaring its intention to move on to the SEC. Have the hard feelings subsided? That’s anyone’s guess, but the attitude is to try and be business as usual, despite the weird setup.

“We knew there were going to be times of awkward discussions, difficult conversations and we’ve moved past that,” said Castiglione. “The [Big 12] Conference has also made some terrific moves about their future and we’ve been now meeting with the four institutions, three times, I think? So, it’s a little different but we’re all participating and making decisions that are going to best serve the institutions. For us, a shorter period of time than the others. But we’re trying to do our best to be positive.”

Big 12 meetings working through weird vibes

Bowlsby, who noted feelings of betrayal when Oklahoma and Texas declared intentions for the SEC last summer, echoed similar sentiments to Castiglione.

“You know, people are working together in good faith. We get along and work together because we have to. So, I think it’s been fine. The meetings have been productive. Everyone has been participating. …Everybody’s engaged, and as I said, there’s some weirdness to it, but we work our way through it.”

On the docket for Thursday’s meetings include board of director meetings. Two of the big topics for tomorrow’s meetings will be scheduling and branding for the Big 12 Conference.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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