Monday, November 20, 2017
Colleges

Fennelly: USF lessons from an expected Big 12 blow-off

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The Big 12 presidents are apparently meeting today at a hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Actually, the eggheads reportedly had dinner Sunday. I wonder if ESPN and Fox picked up that tab, too.

By now, it's hard to believe any news out of Heartbreak Hotel will be good for USF and other expansion candidates, the Powerless 11. You can see what's coming.

The Big Blow-Off.

It looks like USF and every other school was taken for a ride by the Big 12.

From the candy dish to the dust bowl.

By now, who didn't see this coming?

Remember the words of former Big 12 great Hal Holbrook, All The President's Men '76:

"Follow the money."

Follow the 10 living Big 12 schools as they don't approve expansion, then get a more lucrative deal from the networks.

You just watch.

That dirty, rotten Big 12.

And if it calls back in two years, four years, whenever, USF and every school given the high hat today will be waiting in line.

What choice do they have?

USF and these expansion candidates were chasing the money, too.

And survival.

Yes, the Big 12 will take a public-relation hit if it doesn't expand. Like anyone in charge there cares. It's a minor inconvenience in the name of doing business.

A complete freeze out — no one gets in — isn't the worst thing for USF. Now we'll never have to know if Oklahoma and Texas left coffee cup rings on USF's presentation packet. No, it would be rougher on a school like Houston. When is Houston ever going to be in a better position than right now?

USF would have room to grow, to put down tracks as a football power, on the off chance that expansion comes back around again.

As an added bonus, UCF wouldn't be getting in either.

There was no shame in the attempt. USF, led by athletic director Mark Harlan, gave it an honest shot, even if it was a long shot.

I say this because more than one person has told me that USF attempting to join the Big 12 zoo was a mistake because it devalued the current product, you know, USF trying to leave the American Athletic Conference, so now USF fans think they're in a second-rate conference.

Who's kidding who? Think a fan doesn't know the difference between watching USF-Tulsa and USF-Texas? Actually, it might be hard to tell the difference between USF-Tulsa and USF-Iowa State, but that's for another day.

The point is this: Do you think USF fans and alums aren't hip to what was riding on all this?

I'll tell you what would have devalued USF.

If there was even a ghost of a chance at making it into a Power 5 — and USF didn't go for it.

Harlan and USF president Judy Genshaft went for it. Yes, maybe a longer stretch of good USF football would have helped their case.

But, really, was there ever a case to win?

I still think the Big 12 could come back to USF and UCF — the fabled Florida footprint _ when Texas and Oklahoma finally bolt from the Big 12 down the road. There will be no Big 12 after that unless the remaining schools' presidents make preparations. USF and UCF should be part of that.

If you're USF, you have to believe that or what's the use? The gap between the Power 5s and the Group of %s will only grow more profound in coming years.

The Big 12 has some nerve. Bunch of snots.

USF will be probably left behind today. So will the others.

The last lifeboats have left. Will they ever return?

What choice is there for USF but to hope for another shot, even another long shot?

Follow the money.

The Big 12 just did.

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