Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Fennelly: Big 12 wastes everyone's time by declining to expand


Those fiendish Big 12 presidents wrapped things up Monday at a hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The eggheads reportedly had dinner there Sunday. I wonder if ESPN and Fox picked up that tab, too.

The news out of Heartbreak Hotel was awful for USF and other expansion candidates.

The Powerless 11.

The Big Blow-Off.

No expansion.

"We have completed the empirical process," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.

What baloney.

USF and every other school gets the high hat. More like a helmet-to-helmet hit.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled home and home with East Carolina.

It really wasn't shocking. It all fit. After three months of vetting and pandering, all the rumors and wasted time (think of how much paint we could have watched dry), USF and the other schools were taken for a ride by the Big 12. Everybody got played by this money-grubbing conference.

"The gathering of information is never a waste of time," Oklahoma president David Boren said.

What baloney.

"Our athletic program is on a strong trajectory," USF president Judy Genshaft said in a gracious statement after the Big 12 decision.

"We are on a path toward greatness at USF," USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement.

No matter.

USF woke up this morning, looked in the mirror and saw Southern Miss.

If you can't get in this schizoid conference, what can you get in?

Remember the words of former Big 12 great Hal Holbrook, All The President's Men (1976).

"Follow the money."

Follow along now as the 10 living Big 12 schools cut a more lucrative deal for themselves from ESPN and Fox. You just watch.

What a bummer for USF. "Aspirational" just left the building, right in the middle of what could be a historic USF football season.

That dirty, rotten, dysfunctional Big 12.

And if it calls back in two years, four years or whenever, USF answers the phone. What choice does it have? It's that or a life sentence in college football's netherworld.

A complete freeze out for every school wasn't the worst thing for USF. Now we'll never have to know how close it was or if Oklahoma and Texas left coffee cup rings on USF's presentation packet.

It's rougher on a school like Houston. When is Houston going to ever be in a better position than right now? USF has room to grow, to put down tracks as a football power on the off chance that expansion comes back around. Maybe this was good practice for the next time expansion comes back around.

Problem: Will expansion come back around?

What, when the Big 12 actually goes to 12? Or becomes the Big 14? The Big 30?

Think USF coach Willie Taggart is going to wait around?

Four super conferences, 16 teams each.

That's the future. And USF might not belong to it.

Genshaft and Harlan gave it a good shot, even if it was a long shot.

Too many bad football seasons and too many empty seats didn't help make the case.

But, really, was the case ever winnable?

Big 12 members chose greed over vision. They should revisit USF and UCF — the fabled Florida footprint — when Texas and Oklahoma bolt the Big 12 down the road. The Big 12 dissolves if that happens unless the remaining schools' presidents make preparations. USF and UCF should be included.

If you're USF, you have to believe that. Or that the Big Ten will eventually expand to 16, creating openings elsewhere. Or what's the use?

The gap between the Power 5s and the Group of 5s will only grow more profound in coming years. Two worlds will emerge. Actually, they already have.

USF was left out Monday.

The last lifeboat has departed.

Will there be another?

Don't wait up.


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