No, the way Bowlsby envisions expansion is far more measured than what public perception deems logical, mainly because logic is quite often in the eye of the beholder: Of course Louisville believes it is the logical next choice, etc.
It is generally accepted that expansion is inevitable, and in that realm perception is probably correct. But Bowlsby is taking it right from square one.
"There needs to be carefully formulated strategic initiatives to get to a predetermined point,'' he said, sounding very much like a guy whose recent past was spent at Stanford. "There isn't anything magical about getting to 11 or getting to 12 to have a playoff. I think we've made commitments in a number of ways to demonstrate our stability - the nine-game football schedule and the round-robin basketball and the grant of rights and all of those things.''
There is also the national landscape to consider. The SEC and ACC are or soon will be at 14 schools each, the Big Ten and Pac-12 at 12. Even Conference USA and the Big East are at what, 36 or so now?
What those conferences do will have little impact on where the Big 12 eventually settles, but from a national perspective there is also the new BCS to consider. While no one is quite sure how that will shake out, the Big 12 is at least in a position now that it can sit back and take a look at what happens before making a move on expansion.
"I think we have the advantage of looking at what comes of the BCS process in the coming weeks and months, and that certainly is going to be informative to us as to how we move forward,'' Bowlsby said. "But we will always have to be disciplined to make sure that whatever we do relative to expansion - and certainly every other business decision we make - that there's a specific reason and a specific point of opportunity for us with each move.
"I don't think simply the attainment of a number makes any sense for us. We have to add institutions, if we ever do, that are going to specifically fortify and make the sum of the parts exceed the whole.''
There is, of course, a faction that would prefer not to see the league expand. With 10 schools, the Big 12 is able to play a round-robin football schedule and a double round-robin in basketball.
Oklahoma State president Burns Hargis, who chaired the committee that selected Bowlsby, said that among the school presidents - who ultimately have the final say - there is no consensus regarding expansion.
"No, I don't think there's a consensus on it,'' Hargis said. "I think there are a lot of variables [and] a lot of factors that have to be considered. Right now we have a lot of views on it, but they're all subject, I think, to what we believe the future of college athletics will be and who might we ask to join.
"I do think there's a strong feeling in the conference for the round-robin nature of our schedules. I know our athletic directors really like that [and] I think fans really like that. So there would have to be a very good reason to abandon that.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.