This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
So, at the end of the worst reality TV show of the season, nobody got Bob Bowlsby's rose.
Not BYU. Not Cincinnati. Not Houston. Not anybody. Everybody was sent packing.
That's not the way the thing was supposed to end, right? Well, yes. There had to be a better finish, a better conclusion, a better payoff. Oh, there was a payoff, all right, but only to the parties who orchestrated the entire faux endeavor.
The payoff in this series was to the schools already in the Big 12, which pried more money out of the networks without following through with any expansion. Goal accomplished. Game over.
BYU, and all the other so-called candidate schools, got played.
Got played bad.
If you've ever been a scorned lover, been a part of a relationship for six months, all the while being used and lied to and, then, suddenly sent away and told the whole experience did nothing for the one doing the rejecting except reinforce his or her own singular eminence, you know how BYU felt on Monday.
Although the Cougars were not mentioned by name in the statements made at the Big 12's evening press conference, they were told to hit the road. They were also told the rejection wasn't really their fault. Oklahoma president David Boren and commissioner Bowlsby essentially said that after review and further review, after studies, and after sessions with and presentations by almost 20 candidate schools who made their individual cases to get in the league, the conference's school presidents decided it best for the Big 12 to stay exactly the way it had been.
What they didn't touch were the aforementioned additional payoffs made by ESPN and Fox. The league toyed with the candidates, threatening to add them, and exact more money with each of them from the networks, as laid out in their binding contracts, and … when those networks offered up more cash to not expand, all at once the league's presidents decided in what was suggested to be a unanimous manner that expansion was not the best course.
Boren and Bowlsby said that decision was not a rejection of the fine academic and athletic institutions that voluntarily a word they repeated numerous times threw their hats in the ring for consideration. It was simply a confirmation of the wonderfulness of the Big 12 as already constituted. That's a remarkable conclusion, one that would have been fairly easy to reach without the dog-and-pony show, the ruse, of the past six months. Except that the extortion of network funds had yet to be completed.
When Boren said there had been no discussion at Monday's meeting regarding individual candidates, and there had been no vote among the presidents regarding those schools, it sounded like a lie. But, then, maybe that's the one truth that was actually spoken. Maybe there was no reason for a vote on schools such as BYU because the script for the big play had already been written.
Bowlsby and Boren also said there were no active plans for expansion going forward, the Big 12 model already endorsed. Boren's infamous words that the conference was "psychologically disadvantaged" in its current state, with its current schools, were brushed aside here as a matter of convenience. Again, extra money had already been gained.
BYU responded to the ruse with this statement: "Over the last few months, BYU has learned a lot about its strengths as an institution and as an athletic department. Through our in-depth review we have reinforced valuable relationships and have been reminded how strong we are as a university. BYU strives to run its athletic program like a P5 institution. Our national fan base and broadcast ratings, along with the many historical and recent successes of our teams, attest we certainly belong. We believe BYU can significantly contribute to the athletic and academic excellence of a P5 conference."
So, there was that.
One of the group of the candidates that didn't get the rose reminding everyone outside observers and its own and, for that matter, potential future suitors, as well that, yes, it does belong, that it's good enough to belong. Everything but that it will belong.
Now that the big Big 12 lie is done, everyone can go back to their normal states of being. For BYU, it means it can continue along its path of independence, hoping Kalani Sitake will find a way to recruit a better brand of athlete without the benefits of actual P5 membership and Tom Holmoe will continue to upgrade future schedules.
That's all BYU can do at this point, other than perhaps ratchet down that Honor Code with more generally acceptable language. And show the guys holding the rose that it really is as beautiful as any other candidate willing to accept it.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM. Twitter: @GordonMonson.