Big 12 Presidents Meet on Expansion Today
When the Big 12 announced in July it would explore expansion (a month after they appeared they wouldn't) the wild speculation began.
Would it be BYU and Houston? Cincinnati? UConn? Would they add two schools? Would they add four? What about the Florida schools (UCF and USF)? How would that affect the American Conference? Conference USA? Would it trickle down all the way to the Sun Belt? How would schools like Louisiana and/or Arkansas State be affected?
That's a lot of questions. Today could be the day we get the answers, or at least some of them.
The subject of Big 12 expansion has cooled quite a bit. Part of the reason is those who have spoken on expansion, notably Oklahoma President David Boren, have gone silent (some are saying..finally.) But while stories were being written, it was becoming abundantly clear that nothing was clear.
It is widely believed, IF the Big 12 chooses to expand, it won't be by more than two schools. And, there's no guarantee it will be an all-sports invitation. The biggest issue here is a 75% majority (or, eight of the ten schools) must vote in favor of a school in order for it to be added. And, (surprise, surprise) it appears no school has eight votes going in to these meetings.
Houston would be an obvious choice. Both the University of Texas and the Governor of that state have publicly stated their support. But Houston doesn't do much academically for that league and the Houston market is already firmly entrenched in the Big 12. There are also some schools who feel the league doesn't need another school with the state of Texas as a recruiting base. Both OU and Oklahoma State recruit heavily in the Lone Star State.
BYU was the early favorite along with Houston. But the Cougars' unwillingness to play on Sunday has always been an issue for an all-sports invite. And, there's been a pretty big backlash because of the school's stance on LGBTQ issues and there's nothing to indicate the school is going to bend on either.
Cincinnati appeared to have the biggest consensus as they would provide a travel partner for West Virginia, is a pretty solid academic add and brings the league some attention from another part of the country. But talk on the Bearcats has cooled now as well.
Eight other schools have had face to face talks with the league. Most have more negatives than positives as far as membership is concerned.
And, we've also learned neither of the league's two major television partners, ESPN and FOX, is too keen on the idea of expansion. The contract with the Big 12 requires them to cough up more money regardless of who is added and, while there's nothing they can do about the contract right now, the question of how much the Big 12 wants to catch the ire of one or both networks is part of the analysis as well.
So, what happens today?
The Big 12 could add four schools. That almost assuredly won't happen.
They could add two schools. But are there two that can get eight votes?
They could add no schools. They can make an announcement they've done their diligence and decided not expanding is best at this time.
Or, they could postpone the decision to, perhaps, December. At the very least.
Whatever the decision, the process has shown to be typical of the perception that many have of the Big 12.
They just can't figure anything out.
The AP's Ralph Russo has a great, in depth, article on the decision to be made. See it here.