Big 12 says yes to expansion
The Big 12 Conference on Tuesday said that it will begin evaluating candidates for potential expansion after many assumed the prospect had been shelved.
League officials unanimously voted to take the next step toward conference expansion and to begin gauging the interest of potential candidates. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated that there is no timeline for the evaluations’ completion.
At the conclusion of the conference’s June meetings, many assumed that expansion was no longer on the table. The conference appeared content with the current 10-team format, but as Big 12 Media Days concluded, the board appeared to be influenced by outside forces.
The decision to expand the Big 12 appears to be a direct reaction to the Atlantic Coast Conference’s new deal with ESPN. The 20-year deal will increase the overall value of the ACC and solidify their status as a top tier Power Five conference.
With no conference network and lack of competition, the Big 12 risked falling behind the other conferences in the Power Five. Inducting two or four new universities, however, will create a new landscape for the conference.
The Big 12 is adamant on their stance that they will not beg suitors to join “the family.” It is now a competition among the interested schools to put forth their best presentations and capture a coveted spot.
New additions to the conference need to both immediately strengthen the conference and maintain dominance over time. Speculation of schools that are in the running has formed through this process with several emerging as obvious selections.
An ESPN poll was released Wednesday highlighting each Big 12 head football coach’s preference for possible expansion teams. The University of Houston and Brigham Young University were the favorites among the coaches.
That said, the final decision rests with the board of directors. A decision could be made as soon as September, but there are no telling signs as of now. The expansion selection process could become extensive.
As the politics are sorted out, the current 10 universities will have to make compromises.
The Texas connection between the University of Texas, Texas Tech University, Texas Christian University and Baylor University has major swaying power in the boardroom. Any interested candidate, especially UH, must prove they are a beneficiary to the Texas schools.
While speculations continue, schools across the nation are preparing themselves for a historic opportunity.