Peterson: Uh, excuse me, but what happened to all the Big 12 Conference drama?

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Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard updates fans on construction projects around Jack Trice Stadium
Randy Peterson, rpeterson@dmreg.com

AMES, Ia. — Jamie Pollard and I were chatting about stuff mostly unrelated to Iowa State athletics, when I finally blurted out a question that went something like this:

What’s happened to all the Big 12 drama?

There’s no legitimate talk about expansion and/or reorganization. The Big 12’s not in danger of breaking up. No one’s talking about dividing Power Five’s only 10-team conference into two divisions.

No one’s been in the news about anything like the horrible stuff that happened when Art Briles was supposed to be overseeing Baylor football.

There’s been no nasty headlines like the one that recently popped up like this:

Pac-12 revenue drops by $12.5 million

So, Jamie, how are you keeping busy these days?

The conference’s veteran athletics director, behind only Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione and Oklahoma State’s Mike Holder (by just three days) on the Big 12’s seniority list, shook his head and smiled. He knew that I know conference ADs aren’t just twiddling thumbs. He also knew what I meant.

“All’s quiet on the western front, as far as I know,” Pollard said.

Revenue streams are solid. No one’s been busted by the feds.

Oklahoma played in the College Football Playoffs for the second season in a row. Baylor won the women’s national basketball championship. Texas Tech men’s basketball rose from almost nowhere on the men’s side, before losing against Virginia in NCAA title game.

Drama?

Forget it, or as Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News:

“Boring. I don’t know that we have any extraordinarily weighty issues.”

Pollard and I conversed outside Knoxville racing’s sprint car Hall of Fame during a stop on the popular Cyclones Tailgate Tour. It was a May morning, and about three weeks before Bowlsby dropped this news:

The Big 12 will distribute a conference-record $38.8 million to each of its 10 members.

That’s up a couple million per school from last year, and here’s how it stacks up nationally, per published reports of totals that include third-tier rites in all Power Five conferences but the Big 12:

Big Ten: $54.0 million per school

SEC: $43.7 million per school

Big 12: $38.8 million per school

ACC: $29.5 million per school

Pac-12: $29.5 million per school

All’s not only quiet on the western front, but it’s also at ease in northern and southern fronts of the Big 12, too.

“It’s a reflection of the stability in the league right now,” Pollard said. “Our league is about as cohesive as I’ve seen it in my 14 years at Iowa State, and a lot of that credit goes to the commissioner’s leadership, but we also have good people at Oklahoma and Texas that are just thinking about the best long-term interest of the Big 12.”

There’s not even drama in Pollard’s Iowa State shop. There’s no last-minute search for head coaches. Some of the construction is starting on the $90 million sports performance center that will be part of the Jack Trice Stadium complex. Football season tickets are ahead of last year’s pace.

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Football non-conference scheduling is completed through at least 2024, now that Cy vs. Hawk has been renewed.

2020 – South Dakota, at Iowa, UNLV

2021 – UNI, Iowa, at UNLV

2022 – Southeast Missouri, at Iowa, Ohio

2023 – UNI, Iowa, at Ohio

2024 – North Dakota, Arkansas State, at Iowa

So, Mr. AD, how do you spend 38.8 million?

“It’s baked into all financial projections going forward,” Pollard said. “It’s why can do a $90 million student performance center and a $25 million (renovation) at Hilton.”

It’s how Iowa State pays its coaches. It’s almost half the department’s athletic revenue — so if you’ve been a Big 12 naysayer, then you’ll have to get your drama fix elsewhere.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.

Source: Des Moines Register