A few short months ago, Big 12 expansion seemed all but inevitable. On Monday, however, the Big 12 announced that it will not be expanding at this time, this after meeting with numerous potential candidates.
This is kind of a disappointment, no?
“I would say it’s a disappointment, but it’s probably been a pretty slow burn-off,” CBS College Football host Adam Zucker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Originally, the Big 12 wanted to move quickly. Then they almost made it like a dance contest or something, and it felt weird. The two big reasons that conferences have expanded in the last decade and more is get to 12 teams to have a conference championship game. Well, you can have one with 10 now and the Big 12 is going to do that starting next year, and it’ll be a little weird. And the other one is to start a TV network. . . . The two best teams that would kind of lend themselves to even doing that would be Houston – except you’re already in the Houston market and you want to get new markets when you get this expansion stuff. The fact that they could have had Louisville a few years ago and didn’t get them or didn’t take them, that was probably a pretty big mistake. Cincinnati would have been a comparable grab, I suppose. BYU was the No. 1 choice for Oklahoma, but BYU comes with a lot of social issues, and a lot of campus uproar was already taking place across the Big 12 about including BYU.”
Whether to expand or not is a decision every conference must inevitably make, but not every league member has an equal say in what happens.
“The smaller teams in the Big 12 wanted to expand because it ensures security, but the biggest security item for the smaller teams in the Big 12 is the happiness level of Oklahoma and Texas,” Zucker explained. “And in the end, if Oklahoma and Texas don’t want to do something, the little guys can’t do anything about it because Texas would have an invite from probably every power conference but the SEC. Oklahoma could go with them out West like we thought they might have a few years ago. The Big Ten could take them. The ACC could take Texas. The ACC could take Kansas, if the ACC wanted to go super giant, that is. But the other teams such as Kansas State, Iowa State, Texas Tech – they have to be worried that things just stay at 10 and don’t go down. Because if it goes down, then they’re just dead, and maybe they’re joining the American. So in the end, I wasn’t surprised. It was very public and I thought very weird that they were doing all these video conferences and whatnot. I’d rather just find out when it’s over.”
“They will still consider expansion in the future,” Zucker continued. “I think the most interesting statement of anybody was Houston. Houston was this weird character in the mix because as football goes, they’re the best choice. There’s the market thing we already talked about where the TV market is already kind of included in the Big 12 picture because of Texas already being there and all the other Texas schools. So Houston comes out with this statement saying we will find our proper fit. You’re basically saying to the American Athletic Conference, ‘Yeah, we’re just renting here. We’re not really happy, and we’re going to in another spot hopefully at some point too.’ But the SEC already has Texas A&M, and from a football perspective, the coaches are going to be happy at Kansas State. They’re going to be happy at Oklahoma. Because as a market for TV, it’s a giant; as a market for college football recruiting, it’s one of the top three probably in the country as a city or area goes. Oklahoma goes to the Houston area. LSU, Arkansas, A&M – they all go to the Houston area. If Houston is in the Big 12, fewer players are going to leave to go to a school in the Big 12. The coaches are probably pretty happy about that, too.”