Big 12 name change on the table

IRVING, Texas -- Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe began his response with a joke, but it had some truth to it.

"I'm in communication with [Big Ten] commissioner Jim Delany now about a swap," Beebe said of his conference's name.

I get a bit annoyed at fans and writers who like to jokingly note the irony of the Big Ten's 12 teams and the Big 12's 10, but I'll admit Beebe made me laugh with that one. Also, I was surprised that the league wasn't 100 percent certain of its brand strength, and would consider a name change.

"I'm going to spend the next eight to nine months, prior to our next year when we have 10 members, fully exploring what we want to do in that regard," he said.

That may mean keeping the name. It would seem the "Big Ten" would be off the table, and the everyman confusion of a switch would make college football's recent switch from Division I and Division I-A to FBS and FCS forgettable.

I can't say I have any good suggestions, and I think the league will eventually keep its name, but Beebe sounds ready to do some homework.

"I've heard of conferences that have not had the exact numbers they have in their names actually be representing their membership," Beebe deadpanned in the direction of the Big Ten, which has had 11 members since the addition of Penn State in 1993. (Significantly funnier than his opening joke, even if the room of reporters was a few seconds behind on the reference.) "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."