IRVING, Texas -- Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe started his press conference off with a little humor Tuesday afternoon.
"Well, after a slow start to the summer (ba-da-bing), it's great to be on the cusp of another exciting Big 12 football season," he said.
Asked if the conference will change its name since it will soon only have 10 members, Beebe said, "Yeah, I'm in communication with [Big 10] commissioner Bob Delaney now about a swap (zing!)."
Actually, the Big 12 could wind up changing its name. If it did, it would certainly make expansion tough, unless, of course, the conference chose, say, a geographical name over a numeral. But, these days, even going geographical can pose potential problems.
"I'm going to spend the next eight to nine months, prior to our next year when we have 10 memebers, fully exploring what we want to do in that regard...It may be our brand is significant enough that we don't want to change it. I've heard of conferences that have not had the exact numbers they have in their names actually be representing their membership (ba-da-boom)," Beebe said. "I think we need to look at not just whether we change our name or our brand, but what are the messages we want to convey going forward? We'll engage in a process to do that and hopefully in the spring, early summer next year, we'll have a better idea of what we want to do going forward."
As for expansion, Beebe said even more than the financial benefits of splitting the revenue pie 10 ways instead of 12, football coaches are in favor of a nine-team, round-robin schedule and basketball coaches like the coming 18-game, round-robin schedule. It appears the Big 12 as 10 is here to stay -- that is, as long as the conference holds together.
"If an institution in this region of the country that could bring great value, more value than what we would have to provide to them was to step up and want to be a part of us, then maybe we'd have to look at it," Beebe said. "But, right now, there's no affirmative interest by our members in expanding whatsoever."
Does Notre Dame count as bringing great value, "more value than what we would have to provide to them"?
A few other highlights:
*Without a conference title game once the league shrinks to 10 teams, it will explore scheduling "two or three" high-profile matchups the first week of December when a title game would typically be played. However, Beebe said the league would look to maintain traditional dates, such as keeping the Texas-Oklahoma game in October and Texas-Texas A&M on Thanksgiving.
*The league will look into increasing the exit penalties for the next school that contemplates leaving the conference.
*The Big 12's first negotiating window with a television partner is April 2011 with Fox, and the two parties are discussing moving that date up. Beebe said more competitors in the marketplace, such as Turner, NBC/Comcast and Fox wanting a bigger slice of the college football pie along with ESPN/ABC and CBS is excellent news for the Big 12 when it does enter into new contract talks. Remember, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma were promised future annual revenue of $20 million.
*A final decision on whether the Big 12 will hold a football championship game once the league is down to 10 teams will likely be decided in the fall. "The predominant feeling is it probably will not be that we have a championship game," Beebe said.