Exploring the idea of Big 12 expansion


Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, left, and Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger laugh while taking reporter's questions after the first day of the conference's meeting Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, left, and Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger laugh while taking reporter's questions after the first day of the conference's meeting Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

It’s not that it ever really goes away, but the topic of Big 12 expansion certainly has had its ebbs and flows over the past couple of years and that figures to continue well into the future.

A couple of recent articles by national and regional writers looked at (a) the most likely candidates to join the conference if the Big 12 were to expand and (b) what it would take to pique the interest of the conference’s powers that be enough to take the leap.

It’s a fascinating study to explore the ins and outs of possible expansion and, if you’re anything like me, you definitely have your own take on which two schools would be the best pick-ups for the Big 12.

As unsexy as it might be, I’ve gotten on board with the idea of adding Cincinnati and there’s just something I can’t shake about Houston that makes me think the Cougars, long term, would be a solid addition, as well.

But enough about what I think. The entire idea behind the creation of this blog was because we care what you guys think. So, with the help of Google surveys (we know you’re all familiar with those), we put together a few questions about Big 12 expansion and asked you to answer them.

We’ll do something similar every week so that at least some of the survey questions you answer before reading our content has something to do with KU that might interest you. So keep an eye out for those surveys specific to KU sports and, if you’re over surveys altogether, don’t forget that you can now download our new and improved app in the app store. For just $3.99 a month, you’ll get all of the content you see on the desktop site without having to deal with any ads or surveys.

Anyway, enough about that. Here’s a quick look at some of the data we gathered from your answers to three questions pertaining to possible Big 12 expansion. We left the survey open until we received 1,000 answers to each question.

The questions were:

1. Talk of Big 12 expansion has heated up again. Do you think the conference should add new members?

Overall results from Question No. 1.

Overall results from Question No. 1. by Matt Tait

Answers from men only on question No. 1.

Answers from men only on question No. 1. by Matt Tait

Answers from women only on question No. 1.

Answers from women only on question No. 1. by Matt Tait

2. If the Big 12 were to expand, which two schools would you like to see added?

Overall answers to question No. 2.

Overall answers to question No. 2. by Matt Tait

It's worth noting here that 33 people elected to write in under the "Other" category and the schools that were mentioned as write-ins included: Air Force, Arkansas, Colorado, Colorado State, Nebraska, Wyoming, Arizona, Arizona State, Louisville, Missouri, Wichita State, Illinois, Oregon, Notre Dame, San Diego State and Temple.

As you know, some of those are attainable and others are complete pipe dreams but still interesting, nonetheless.

3. Which former Big 12 member that left would you most like to see return to the Big 12?

Overall answers to question No. 3.

Overall answers to question No. 3. by Matt Tait

Answers from men only to question No. 3.

Answers from men only to question No. 3. by Matt Tait

Answers from women only to question No. 3.

Answers from women only to question No. 3. by Matt Tait


Dale Rogers 5 years, 9 months ago

I still think we should have gone after Louisville before the ACC did.

Kevin Boone 5 years, 9 months ago

Agreed, Louisville was a missed opportunity. I'd love to see Nebraska and Mizery come back. Growing up watching the rivalries, they are missed. I see Cincy and BYU joining if the conference doesn't implode. KU, even without a football program, will be fine either way.

Joe Ross 5 years, 9 months ago

I certainly agree that Louisville was a missed opportunity. No argument there. But to be fair this coin has two sides. Adding more schools at that time would have meant dividing the pie more ways, and the league member schools would have effectively been giving up money. I don't know, looking back, what the right answer should have been. TCU and West Virginia have both been good for the Big 12. I think Louisville's addition to the conference would have certainly added stability, geographically there were a good fit, and their basketball and football programs would have been on par with the caliber the Big 12 was seeking when it added the two it did. But you have to weigh that against financial considerations.

Doug Wallace 5 years, 8 months ago

It will implode Texass Longhorns will see to that!

Michael Maris 5 years, 9 months ago

Well, I know that I entered one school in the ''Others'' category. And, my write in was Northern Illinois. Yet, I didn't see NIU listed on the 33 other schools that were mentioned.

Why someone would add Wichita State, when WSU doesn't even have a football program, is beyond me.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 9 months ago

Houston will be added to the Big 12. I'm sure of that. The Big 12 needs the Houston market, and recruiting base, which was lost with TAMU.

As for the other school...I have no idea because a great case could be made for UCONN, BYU, Memphis, and Centi.

Robert Brock 5 years, 9 months ago

1). Houston TVs tune in to UT sports 2). Houston is just a lousy commuter school 3). Houston was a cruddy part of the old SWC.

Adding UH would diminish the quality of the Big 12. Pass!

Kyle Sybesma 5 years, 9 months ago

Let's not get left in the Mountain West. Drop the Big 12 as soon as the GOR deal is done and go to the Big 10. FYI - Look close at the Big 10 Logo. B1G. The 1G is in a different color and looks like a 16.

The article from suggests that the Big 12 clock is ticking and the Big 10 has done its homework on Oklahoma and Kansas.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 9 months ago

Thanks for the link. Good to see KU had options then and I think they will in any future realignment mess. However, I would be happier to see the B12 add two high quality schools in big, new markets.

Michael Maris 5 years, 9 months ago

This article was written back in 1993. But, I'm sure that the ties to K-State were the main reason for Kansas not leaving the Big 8 (back in the days) and then the Big XII came to fruition as well.

Doug Wallace 5 years, 8 months ago

Hell no the B1G!

If you like being under the Tyranny and oppression of Texass Longhorns Buddy wait till we are under the thumbs of Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.Not just that we will be under probation for god knows how long in terms of getting full money! You notice that those 3 seem to always win in every sport on the whole?

Screw the B1G.Pac-12 is where we ought to be!

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 9 months ago

Add Florida state and Clemson

Texas' schools don't add TVs.

Big 12 adds or KU and either OU or Texas goes to Big Ten.

SEC will add to get to 16.

Doug Wallace 5 years, 8 months ago

All that was for those 2 was a ploy to get more money like a pro team threatens to leave unless they get certain things! Theyd never come here!

Bj Cassady 5 years, 9 months ago

It's all about TV markets, so get bold and go for New Mexico, New Mexico State, Colorado State, Air Force, BYU, Cincy, Houston, Boise St and Wyoming. I would put the smaller football schools on probation saying they have to get their attendance up to 40,000 in 4 years else they are out. Houston does not draw that much at home games. We missed out on Clemson a few years ago also. I have no problems going after UConn, Memphis, Tulane, Navy and Army. The money would be thin.. but four sub-conferences, east, west, north, south.

Michael Leiker 5 years, 9 months ago

So what happens if KU averages 18000/game for the next 4 years? Which is very likely

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 9 months ago

What happens if football disappears in a couple more decades. I wouldn't bet on it but I wouldn't bet against it either.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 9 months ago

This an interesting topic. Follow the money. "SEC pays it's members $9.6 mil more than Big 12. I am not a Mizzou fan but the SEC treats them like a doormat. A&M can at least recruit to compete. While the other SEC schools ebb and flow and are really not much of national contenders except for 2 or 3 each year.

To heck with Texas no one will miss them, they can do a Notre Dame for all I care.

I would say the Big 10 for us if it works out that way and adding Houston, which is a huge city and market and Memphis, SMU and Cincy if it works out that way.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 9 months ago

I wonder of MU regrets its decision. I bet the money is a wash overall. Better to be a competitive B12 school than an SEC doormat (athletically speaking).

BTW - I say add Univ. of Central Florida. Huge university (largest undergrad school in the US), huge tv market and recruiting state. Plus it might help WV with some east coast travel.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 9 months ago

I think they wish they had received a B10 invitation but I don't believe they have any regrets. Neither does NU, CU or A&M.

Aaron Paisley 5 years, 9 months ago

Expansion is 100% dependent upon the future of the Longhorn Network being converted to a B12 Network. With a B12 Network, schools that are in bigger media markets are more better targets. With a B12 Network, UConn is the most valuable realistic target out there. They would get a B12 Network a better deal in NYC, Boston, and Hartford which is 2 top 10 markets and a 3rd in the top 30. Competitive football programs are not relevant to expansion when a conference network is involved otherwise the B10 never would've gone after Maryland or Rutgers.

Without a B12 Network, expansion has to be about adding football programs that add value to a TV contract. UH is the school that does that better than anyone other than BYU, but BYU is not an option right now apparently.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 9 months ago

Nothing will happen with expansion unless Texas is a "yes." Do I hate that? Of course. KU separate from Texas, OU, and OSU? It better someplace really good. I still don't think the powers that be in Kansas would allow Kansas to go anywhere without KSU. Is Colorado really happy in the PAC 12? BYU has national and international draw. Houston is a commuter school. Are we OK with that?

Michael Maris 5 years, 9 months ago

Contracts can be amended or terminated. And, the LHN has become a drain on ESPN's overall portfolio. So, ESPN could possibly force the issue of converting the LHN to the Big XII Network. Texas may not like it. But, such things are possible.

Micky Baker 5 years, 9 months ago

I think the Big 12 should expand, but there are possible downfalls for some schools like when the Big 8 expanded to add 4 teams. In football, we would probably be better off only playing 8 conference games with at least one certain condition being met. Don't set the rotation to where only one team in the north has to play OU and Texas in the same season. That would hurt us if that one team was us. If we were to get Houston and Cincinnati, who would be the 6 north division teams? We know it would be KU, K-State, Iowa State, Cincy, and West Virginia, but that's only 5. Who else would be in the north? Given the geography, Oklahoma State would have to be the one. That would possibly hurt OSU's recruiting because they wouldn't play OU every year. That is one scenario that may cause some teams to opt out of expansion. It might make more sense to divide the teams to east and west. KU, KSU, ISU, Cincy, WVU, and Houston being in the east and Baylor, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, OU, and OSU in the west. Then the two year rotation would have to be worked out so it's fair. I would be okay if KU played OSU, Texas, and Texas Tech for two years then Baylor, TCU and OU the other two years. But it wouldn't be a good deal if we had to play Baylor, Texas, and OU in the same year, and if I remember right, KU was the only one from the north that got OU and Texas during the same seasons before the last realignment.

If it's Cincy and then BYU in place of Houston, then the north/south divisions would make more sense. These are some of the things to think about. You can figure out given the location of the others that are listed.

With Texas still being in the league, I don't think any of those schools that left the conference would want to come back... and the Big 12 isn't going to get rid of Texas.

I'm somewhat surprised that SMU isn't on the list, because getting both of the major schools in the DFW area, probably the highest valued media market in the nation, would be great for tv contracts.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 9 months ago

If it's going to be four 16 team conferences I think the Big 12 will be the one to disappear and if that's the case it doesn't matter what we do. I don't know why it's taking so long unless the most recent movement has the conferences questioning realignment. Maybe it's not working out as well as they thought.

David Robinett 5 years, 9 months ago

Among available: BYU , Cincy/Memphis.

Among former Big 12: NU and Mizzou.

My fav of all : Arkansas. Altho they are probably happy in the SEC.

Jim Pendleton 5 years, 9 months ago

First of all, I don't believe there will be any new schools from Texas in this expansion. Heck the Texas schools don't want any more of them in the league.

Second, the Big 12 does not need some other Texas school to get into the Houston market. Texas, as in UT, already has the market cornered in the major eastern cities of the state, including DFW, Houston, and San Antonio. A&M is probably 2nd in those markets. Just a guess, but I would imagine UH isn't even third in their own city, so why go after them.

The league will probably only expand by two, although I believe they should go after four. In no particular order, my choices would be -

Cincinnati and Memphis. They have improving football programs, and while down this year, basketball has strong traditions. Decent size markets, and good travel partners for WV.

South Florida & Central Florida. Kind of similar to KU in that their football programs have good years every now & then. Hoops are kind of iffy with both. Negative in that they are a ways a way & everyone would have longer trips there, as would they. Everyone thinks of Fla, FSU, Miami as big schools, but USF & UCF have huge enrollments also. I was surprised to hear how big USF is. While they will always play second fiddle to the more well known Florida schools, they have bigger followings than you think, are in big metro areas, and USF plays at the Bucs stadium in Tampa.

I bring up these two Florida schools as I think they would be great options if the league expanded by four schools instead of just two.

I like BYU, but who else do you bring in with them? Another western school? Colorado State maybe, as you regain some of the Denver market. UNLV? Boise? Do you bring in BYU with one other eastern school? Travel would really be all over the place then.

I do hope expansion gets done, will certainly help the league in the long run.

Jay Scott 5 years, 9 months ago

A&M is bigger in Houston than UT. The reverse in DFW.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 9 months ago

I would add Cincinnati to expand our eastern presence, get a foothold in a Big 10 market, and give West Virginia a travel partner. I would also add Louisiana Tech so that we could make inroads into an SEC market.

Brian Zachary 5 years, 9 months ago

Just my general musings but... Why stop at 12? Go ahead and get to 14. You've made your bed in the east and watching tv programming, there is an obvious east coast bias. The PAC-12 isn't getting the exposure I would have thought, most folks are in bed by the time their big games come on. But my proposal is... Add UCONN, Cincy, Memphis, and UCF. Break into 2 divisions,Originals and Noobs (for lack of better names) Originals: KU KSU ISU OU OSU Texas TT

Noobs: Baylor (Yes, they're original but they add parity) TCU (Because of their proximity to DFW, their travel burdens eased and they were going to join the Big East anyway, also, more parity) WVU UCONN UCF Cincy Memphis

To be honest, I'm not overly thrilled by any additions but I think it becomes a matter of survival and expansion seems to be the cure.

Jay Scott 5 years, 9 months ago

There will be college basketball in 30 years. Football won't exist in a generation or two.

Let's not panic. Jayhawk basketball is one of the most powerful brands in college sports.

Kerry Davis 5 years, 9 months ago

14 is really an unworkable number, because it makes for unbalanced scheduling. That is why 12 or 16 are always in the discussion. I suggest 16 immediately so that the issue is closed rather than going to 12 and then making more additions. So, UConn, Memphis, and Cincinnati with WVU; SFU and CFU with Baylor and TCU: and either Colorado State or BYU with KU, KSt , and ISU. 4 Pods - play everyone in Pod plus 2 from each of the others in FB - 9 games. In BB, play round robin in Pod and other 12 one each - 18 games. Give Baylor, TCU, FSU, CFU and little extra travel money. Other Pod is of course UT, OU, OSU, and TT.

Rich Hetherington 5 years, 9 months ago

Just a few years ago, before either played in the FB Nat'l Title game, Florida St. and Clemson were both open to joining the B12 (or so some insiders have stated). It's ludicrous that the B12 did not attempt to make that happen! Both would have brought good new TV markets and both have had a lot of success since then. Epic ball drop on the part of the B12, especially after letting Louisville go to the ACC, after they expressed interest in joining the B12.

Just think about it, the B12 could have had a 14 team league now with our current 10, plus Florida St., Clemson, Louisville and either Cincinnati or Memphis. Then to get to 16, we'd simply take the other of those 2, along with their choice of BYU, Houston, UCONN, Air Force, South Florida, Central Florida or Colorado St. It's likely that had we poached FSU and Clemson (along with getting Louisville before they did) that the ACC would have accepted Cincinnati and UCONN already, meaning to get to 16, the B12 probably would have taken Memphis, and 2 others out of Houston, BYU, Air Force, SFU, CFU and CSU. Any of those circumstances could have led to a huge TV network, etc, that would have brought stability and large TV deals to the B12... sigh.

Steve Grimm 5 years, 9 months ago

If I recall, In addition to the draw of bigger money, Texas A&M left the Big12 because it was tired of being under the UT shadow and being bullied by them. That was always a strained relationship from the beginning.

As I contemplate Houston, I wonder if they would suffer the same with Texas. the other Texas schools don't seem to have the issue (at least publicly). So perhaps it's nothing.

then again, the conference probably doesn't matter that much since geography (proximity to UT) doesn't change with a conference alignment.


Either way, I am on the fence about expansion. I am really liking the round-robin approach. In fact, I think that is something that should be enforced in all conferences. (sigh). But, since that is not the real world, I do understand the benefits of growing back to 12 schools.

dunno that either....

Doug Wallace 5 years, 8 months ago

My wish is still for the Pac-12 to take KU,KSU,OU,OSU And TT from the Little 12-2.Add another team from Texas maybe 2 like UTEP and Rice or Houston then get Hawaii also and KU gets a chance at recruits from both California and Texas.

Screw the Big 12 the Texass Shorthorns have destroyed this conference and anything it has or could have been.

This conference has never recovered from losing the teams we did and WVU and TCU are no upgrades!Enough is enough!

Bob Bowlsby you are a sycophant loser!Time to bolt to the Pac-12!

Pac-12 or bust!

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