CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The views from here:
These days, even the big boys are poaching from the big boys. (See the Big Ten swiping Maryland from the ACC.) The Big East continues to be the minor league system that grooms schools for The Show. (See Louisville to the ACC as the latest example.)
It must make one wonder if the Big 12 is smart here. Louisville was the last remaining attractive candidate without a strong affiliation. Did the Big 12 goof by choosing not to grow beyond 10?
My reply: perhaps. It goes without saying the Big 12 will certainly be the smallest power conference. Someday that will hurt in regard to perception.
In reality, though, the Big 12 has a nice setup. All 10 schools are locked in for 13 more years because, buyouts be damned, they've signed over their television rights to the league for that span.
Even in regard to money, the Big 12 schools are set. They're making $20 million each now, with $30 to $40 million in sight. The national football playoffs and bowl agreement with the SEC are dead ahead.
Still, a quote from "Dirty Harry" keeps coming to mind. The one in which Callahan, holding a .44 Magnum, says, "You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?"
Perhaps Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby is making the right call. Perhaps the league will stay intact and strong not only for 13 years but beyond. It's nice that all teams play each other once a year in football and twice a season in basketball. You have nice, tidy champions.
But I've seen and covered expansion. I've seen and covered the implosion of the Big East. At one time that was a sweet, compact conference with a gem in Miami at the top - sort of like this Big 12 with Texas at the top.
The gut feeling from here - as well as history - says there is strength in numbers.
If Big 12 school administrators become disgruntled, or if they are courted, or if they are offered sweeter deals, lawyers are always standing by 24-7.
If nothing else, we've learned that in these parts.
Here's the deal: The bowl can have the potential No. 1 NFL draft pick in Geno Smith. It can have perhaps the nation's and, certainly, the Big 12's most explosive player in Tavon Austin. It adds up to very nice television ratings.
And the Holiday can pass on that?