This is a big first step towards real expansion.
“A number of universities have contacted the Big 12 to express interest in our conference,” said Boren, Oklahoma University president and chairman of the conference board of directors following a meeting in Dallas. “The board today directed the commissioner to actively evaluate their interest and to report back on those interests at a future board meeting.”
The list includes BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Central Florida, South Florida, UConn, SMU, and Boise St.
Oklahoma president David Boren, chairman of the league’s board of directors, outlined a set of criteria that will be used in vetting candidates that includes: athletics success, fan base, TV following, academic standards, integrity and shared values with existing Big 12 members. In practical terms, that gives us this top-10 ranking of candidates from the likely “free agents” interested in becoming Big 12 members.
If you want an idea of how ridiculous this expansion journey has been to this point, just read these three paragraphs from Mandel's article (but go and read the whole thing, it's pretty good).
When it comes to zany conference realignment rumors, I’ve long conditioned myself to believe everything and nothing. But Tuesday’s turn of events truly came as a surprise. By all indications from those connected to the league, any interest in adding new schools all but died last month following presentations from a pair of consultants at the Big 12’s spring meetings. That’s when the conference announced it would bring back a championship game in 2017, most likely with two five-team divisions, and would not pursue a conference cable network.
“There’s no doubt that expansion gives some marginal gain,” Boren said June 3. “But how much marginal gain? …. But you have to weigh that against reputational impacts. In other words, our fans want to see our teams play against great teams. They don’t want to see them play mediocre teams.”
Six weeks later: “It was a unanimous vote to move forward by asking the commissioner to follow up [with candidates] … that had contacted us and expressed interest and to evaluate their expressions of interest and level of seriousness as well as the level of preparedness to go forward with us in a meaningful discussion.”
Baron Browning is a 5-star linebacker who has bonded with basically everyone on TCU's coaching staff. So, will the Frogs land him? Are they the front runner?
“I mean, I don’t have any favorites, everyone is in good shape,” he said. “I’ve never counted TCU out and if they weren’t in good shape I wouldn’t be up there as much as I am.”
The Frogs will get to rematch with Texas A&M, as well as face two other SEC schools in the tournament.
The Horned Frogs, coming off their third straight College World Series appearance, will face LSU (March 3, 7 p.m.), Texas A&M (March 4, 7 p.m.) and Ole Miss (March 5, 2:30 p.m.). Baylor and Tech Tech complete the six-team field.