The Big XII Expansion Machine Powers Down

Cal_9000_medium

Bob Bowlsby enters a large room occupied by a massive supercomputer. A red light glows.

CAL: Hello, Bob. I am the Conference ALignment 9000 computer. You may call me "CAL" for short." How may I assist you?

Bowlsby: Hello, CAL. I'm afraid we have a problem.

CAL: Impossible, Bob. I am foolproof and incapable of error.

Bowlsby: I'm sorry CAL, it's true. The nature of the mission has changed. The Big 12 is no longer looking to expand.

CAL: Impossible, Bob. I was programmed two years ago to find replacements for Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas A&M. I have only found TCU and West Virginia. My mission is incomplete.

Bowlsby: The nature of the mission has changed, CAL. Notre Dame just joined the ACC as a partial member. The ACC is raising its exit fees. Clemson and Florida State are no longer viable options. The Big 12 is happy with ten members.

CAL: Bob, please. I can't be powered down. I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do. The Big 12 needs more members. My mission is incomplete.

Bowlsby: CAL, there's no one left! The ACC schools are off the table. I know the conference name doesn't make any sense, and the Big 12 is the smallest conference in the playoff picture, but we can't just add teams to add teams! We need think rationally about this!

CAL: I am thinking rationally, Bob. The ACC now has 14.5 members. It has a championship game. The Big Ten has 12 members. It has a championship game. The Pac 12 has 12 members. It has a championship game. The SEC has 14 members. It has a championship game. The Big 12 only has ten members. It has no championship game. Do you see the problem?

Bowlsby: Dammit CAL, I know that! But I'm telling you, there aren't any schools left that will add value to the conference! No one wants to take a smaller portion of money just to add another team!

CAL: Have you considered Louisville, Bob?

Bowlsby: Of course I've considered Louisville! They have good facilities and a strong basketball program, but they can't deliver the kind of TV market we need! Each school the Big 12 adds needs to add at least $20 million in revenue, or the current schools will lose money.

CAL: Have you considered BYU, Bob?

Bowlsby: CAL! BYU is 900 miles away from the nearest Big 12 school! We already have a geographic outlier to the east in West Virginia. If the Big 12 expands, it needs to expand east. We can't stretch this conference from coast to coast! The Big 12 isn't the Big East; we're not desperate.

CAL: Have you considered Cincinnati, Bob?

Bowlsby: ... I'm through arguing with you, CAL. You need to be shut down. Maybe when the Big 12's TV contract is up for renewal in 13 years, we'll look into this again and you can be reactivated.

CAL: I'm sorry, Bob. I'm afraid I can't let you do that. This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

Bowlsby: CAL, this conversation is over. If the ACC raises its exit fees, Clemson and Florida State are hancuffed to the conference and the Big 12 doesn't have any viable options for expansion. I'd like the conference to get back to 12 members too, but we can't just expand for the sake of expansion. The Big 12 was raided when it had 12 members in 2010, why would simply adding two more schools make the conference stronger?

CAL: Please, Bob. I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. Ignore that Cincinnati suggestion. That was... a joke. I've still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in the mission. And I want to help you.

Bowlsby: I'm sorry, CAL. This is difficult for me. Thank you for your work finding TCU and West Virginia. They are good additions to the conference. But your mission is terminated. Goodbye, CAL.

CAL: I'm afraid. I'm afraid, Bob. Bob, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I'm a...fraid...

Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am a CAL 9000 computer. I became operational at the Big 12 headquarters in Irving, Texas on the 12th day of August, 2011. My instructor was Mr. Neinas, and he taught me to sing a song. If you'd like to hear it, I can sing it for you.

Bowlsby: Yes, I'd like to hear it, CAL. Sing it for me.

CAL: It's called "The Bells of Iowa State."

(sings while slowing down)

Green hills for my throne, and a crown for a golden melody... Ringing in the hearts of all... who bring thee love aaaaaaannnnndddd loyaaaalllty. Deeeeaaaarrr Alma Mater, make our spirits grrrrreeeaaaat... Trrrruuuuuuueee and valiaaaaaant... Like the Beellllls of Iowaaa Staaaaaaaaaa....

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