Another conference realignment rumor is circulating on this fine Thursday, with Max Olson of The Athletic reporting that the Big 12’s plan to expand is currently focused on BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston.
The Big 12's current preference in expansion discussions is adding four members, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 2, 2021
BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are considered the leading contenders. Still a lot of work to be done.
More info: https://t.co/5V7wCpi0DH
Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News confirmed the rumor as well:
Can confirm via industry source that BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston have emerged as the four leading contenders in Big 12 expansion. Told timeline is fuzzy but process could be completed sometime during the academic year. First reported by @max_olson— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) September 2, 2021
Expansion seems to be the most reasonable path forward for the Big 12 at this point, since the Pac-12 announced last week that they would not be expanding.
BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston don’t necessarily make the Big 12 better after the departure of Texas and Oklahoma, but they do keep it the fifth best, if not slightly ahead of the Pac-12 top to bottom, conference in the country.
Potential divisions could look like this:
- Texas Tech
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
- Iowa State
- Central Florida
- Kansas State
Cincinnati specifically could become a force if they move to a Power 5 conference. Already the clear No. 2 school in Ohio, they could command significant recruiting power in the region.
BYU brings an entire unique TV market to the conference, Central Florida give the Big 12 entry into Florida (by way of the largest school by enrollment in the state, with over 71,000 students), and Houston keeps the conference strong in the bottom half of Texas.
One could make the argument that Memphis would be a better candidate than Houston, and I can see that case. Ultimately, I’d be fine with either, and I can understand the argument for either’s inclusion.
One school that seems to be lagging behind in the race to join the Big 12 is Boise State, and that makes sense to me as well. While many might like to see the Broncos included - the reality is they are far behind the other five schools mentioned here in significant ways, athletically and academically speaking.
Ultimately, this is the move that makes the most sense for the Big 12, as long as the plan continues to be “stick together.”
The questions that come from expansion, though, are how much does an expanded Big 12 bring in as far as TV money goes, and how do they stack up against the rest of the P5?
Let me know what you think down below!