Another weekend, another football Saturday in the Big 12. But the real news for the conference will not come until Monday. That is when the Big 12 Presidents will make a decision on expansion.
Thankfully, the conference has finally gone quiet on the matter, no small accomplishment for a conference which includes The Boren Identity, aka Oklahoma President David Boren.
But in talking to various outlets connected with the conference here is our best guess as to how this is going to unfold over the next few days.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who has been the point man for the expansion discussion, will give an overview of the 10 candidate schools who made presentations. Of that list, Bowlsby will probably identify six as serious contenders: BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, UConn, UCF and USF.
The first topic to be decided will be if BYU carries too much baggage for consideration. If the answer is NO, the first step could be fairly easy. BYU will be added as an 11th member, but in football only.
That solves some problems in scheduling other sports because of the ""No Play on Sunday issue"" which is part of BYU's resume, and BYU's share of the Big 12 TV revenue pie would be much smaller since the Cougars would be participating in only one sport.
But it creates another issue. If you take BYU in football only, you have a scheduling problem in all the other sports because you have an odd number (11) teams. It become simpler if you take two schools for football only or two schools in all sports. There appears to be almost no sentiment for taking BYU in all sports. So if BYU is one choice, and for football only, the Big 12 must decide whether it wants to take a second school as full member or as football only member.
Once the BYU issue is settled, Bowlsby, who has recommended expansion, must find a way to get the required 8 minimum vote for any candidate. Sources throughout the Big 12 say the problem is that NO school has that much support at that present time.
That creates a stalemate which could result in a vote NOT to expand at all. That theory is the current leader in the club house, but it would leave the Big 12 vulnerable to other conferences who are looking at the Big 12's primary schools Oklahoma and Texas as valuable expansion additions.
Bowlsby doesn't want that to happen, so he will try to come up with a compromise.
If BYU is still on the table, it could be a simple decision. Take BYU and one other school in FOOTBALL ONLY.
BYU and Houston would be the best move to increase the Big 12 football footprint, but there is also strong sentiment against Houston from the non-Texas schools.
The main argument against Houston, which doesn't have the status as a Power 5 conference member, is that selecting the Cougars puts a fox in the Big 12 hen house. With Big 12 status, Houston can recruit on an equal basis with all other Big 12 schools in the fertile South Texas recruiting area.
If Houston is not invited, the Big 12 must decide between Cincinnati, UConn, USF and UCF. USF and UCF gives the Big 12 a Florida-foot print, UConn puts the Big 12 in the Northeast and gives West Virginia a travel partner and Cincinnati would also be an easy travel partner for West Virginia and put the Big 12 in another fertile recruiting area in Ohio. Adding them as football only members cuts down on the price and the logistical problems of scheduling in all sports.
None of the solutions are perfect. But if the Big 12 wants to move up in the Power 5 conference pecking order, it needs to make a decision to expand rather to maintain the status quo.
Whether Bowlsby can convince the Presidents of that will be determined in the next few days. If I had to guess, the Big 12 will compromise with two football only members. [/membership]