Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe left a few raised eyebrows in the wake of his comments about his plan for the conference's spring meetings next week.
I think we need to have a very frank conversation about where we’re going and who’s going to be on the plane when we take off," Beebe told a Kansas City radio station.
But he clarifies his previous statements in his newest interview, an extensive Q&A with the Columbia Tribune.
"I said I want to present to the board the question of how do we get to a place where we determine who’s on the plane and who’s off. I want there to be a time — on our time schedule, not any other conference or entity’s time schedule — where we say, OK, here’s who’s committed to this conference, and we’re going forward and we’re going to continue to prepare for our negotiations with television next spring," Beebe said. "Which looks like it’s going to be a highly profitable situation for us, whether we collaborate with the Pac-10 or do it on our own."
That's quite a bit different. But finding a way to get to that point could be the conference's defining period -- and task.
The chances of Beebe receiving a definite answer from schools like Nebraska, Missouri and Colorado (and even, perhaps, Texas) seem low if the Big Ten hasn't decided who gets the boarding passes on its plane. (Analogy extension! Huzzah!) Figuring out a way to make that happen only makes me glad I'm not in Beebe's shoes.
He could perhaps get the Pac-10 to cooperate regarding its relationship with Colorado -- particularly if the two conferences collaborate in negotiation for new television and bowl contracts -- but it's highly unlikely the Big Ten will do the same.
If Beebe doesn't get an answer, he may have to consider some sort of action. Fines or restrictions on revenue seem the most likely scenario, (though still unlikely, in my opinion. Nothing fixes a strained relationship better than taking money out of the other party's wallet) but if revoking Missouri and Nebraska's membership in the conference came into play, the decision would be made by the Big 12 board of directors.
"The other members certainly have a right to say that for the good of all of us, we need to have this instability — perceived instability and actual instability — rectified. How that takes form, I’ll be interested to find out myself," Beebe said. "I have some ideas, but I don’t want to share them publicly before I share them with my membership."
Those ideas could become public at or shortly after next week's meetings. Either way, stay tuned. Things could get very interesting in the near future.