Big 12 extends rights deal, cementing future

You can call it a comeback.

A year ago, the future of the Big 12 was again in jeopardy. Texas A&M and Missouri were gazing longingly at the SEC while Oklahoma and Texas mulled moves that would form the first superconference, the Pac-16.

The Big 12? Well, thanks for playing, I guess. Grab a goodie bag from SMU on your way out.

What a difference a year makes.

On Friday, the Big 12 officially inked a 13-year media deal with ABC/ESPN and Fox, extending a six-year grant of rights deal to 13 that ensures the stability of the league.

Any talk of so-called security is a lot more than conjecture now. It's written in stone.

"The stability of the Big 12 Conference is cemented," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a Friday release. "We are positioned with one of the best media rights arrangements in collegiate sports, providing the conference and its members unprecedented revenue growth, and sports programming over two networks."

The details of the deal had been previously reported, and Friday's deal came as little surprise. But now it's official and Big 12 fans can breathe easier -- especially those from schools such as Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa State, who might have been left without a seat at college football's adults table if the Big 12 had broken up.

Get comfortable, folks. Until 2024-25, this is home.

Here's a quick explanation of the grant of rights:

... if a Big 12 school leaves for another league in the next 13 years, that school's media rights, including revenue, would remain with the Big 12 and not its new conference.

In short, that cash ensures nobody's going anywhere. Call it handcuffs if you want -- Oklahoma president David Boren famously did last fall.

Still, it's security, and much-needed security for the Big 12.

The six-year grant of rights deal was officially executed last fall, but this deal will be twice as nice, and brings the Big 12 back up to an expected $20 million per school per year.

TCU and West Virginia won't get full shares for a few years, but they've found prestigious membership and a relationship in which both sides needed one another.

Now, it's official, and the Big 12's worries about stability can officially be put to rest.