Could former Big 12 members be in the expansion mix? Bill Snyder thinks so


Big 12 expansion is hot again — maybe hotter than ever — and universities all across the country are making comments, pushes, pleas even, to the Big 12 brass to find a way to place themselves on the VIP list.

This, of course, is a reaction to the Big 12’s announcement earlier this week that commissioner Bob Bowlsby has been given the go-ahead to gauge the interest and viability of particular schools that might be — today or someday — good fits for the Big 12 should it elect to expand back to 12 or perhaps even to 14.

The usual suspects are hot on everyone’s radar and that include Cincinnati, UConn, BYU, Houston, Memphis and others.

And then you have the group that has been mentioned several places and would be equally as excited to even get a shot to make their case. Think Colorado State, Tulane, Central and South Florida.

But a couple of the more interesting options, which a few people have discussed during recent weeks, surfaced this week when Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder was interviewed by a few media members at Big 12 media days in Dallas.

They’re familiar names and seem to be programs that Snyder would add if all of this were exclusively up to him.

Here’s the quote:

“I may be wrong and other people may see it differently, but I don’t think anyone could be in a better situation than the teams we have in our conference,” Snyder said. “I’ll tell you what. There are teams that left our conference right now that wish they could get back in our conference.”

Asked how many, Snyder twice responded: “Two I know of.”

Given that the Big 12 has lost four and added two in the realignment craze, that can only mean he’s talking about Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M.

So who is it?

I have my suspicions and I think it’s pretty clear which programs he’s referencing. Here’s a look.

1. Colorado — CU bolted the Big 12 out of fear that the whole thing was falling apart. It wasn’t the worst move for the Buffs, as it tied them closer into one of their hot recruiting territories (California) and also provided Colorado with some conference stability in unsettling times. But the west-coast existence has not been all roses for the former Big Eight member, especially when it comes to television exposure. Now that the Big 12 is stable again — at least for now — there’s no doubt in my mind that CU would jump back in if the opportunity presented itself. The recruiting base in California is there. Rejoining the Big 12 would allow Colorado back into Texas. The time zones for television purposes would create better exposure for all of its programs and the Buffs would be back with some of their friendly and more familiar foes. Makes perfect sense to me and, going a step farther, is 100 percent worth exploring.

2. Nebraska — As much as anybody, the Cornhuskers headed to the Big Ten in an attempt to get away from Texas and its stranglehold of power on the Big 12 Conference. And although that was definitely one of the positives of the move north, it has been one of the only ones. Beyond that, Texas no longer has quite the same amount of power as it did during those tumultuous summers of realignment, both at conference headquarters and on the playing fields. Is that reason enough for Nebraska to want back in? No. But the fact that the Big 12 continues to close the gap in its revenue distribution — up 19% from 2014 to 2015 and another 20% from 2015 to 2016 — certainly paints the picture of a stronger and more profitable conference than the one the Cornhuskers left. Add to that the fact that it seems to be common knowledge the NU is struggling with forcing rivalries with Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota instead of cozying up to longtime rivals like Kansas, Oklahoma and others in the Big 12 and it’s even easier to see why the Huskers could be longing for the good old days.

3. Missouri — Say what you will about all of that talk that just never seems to end about Missouri folks saying they’d love to play Kansas again, but I just can’t see the Tigers jumping ship to get back into the Big 12. First of all, I’m not sure the Big 12 would have them. Second of all, it seems that Mizzou still believes that being in the SEC footprint and bringing in SEC dollars is a better position to be in than any other. The Mizzou athletic department and the university as a whole are not only stubborn but also a little bit dysfunctional at the moment and, outside of familiarity and the renewing of some old rivalries — none more important and visible than the Border War — I can’t see many compelling reasons for either side to want to get back together. Still, the Tigers certainly belong at No. 3 on this list, simply because of the reasons you'll read about in No. 4.

4. Texas A&M — No chance it’s the Aggies. They’re happy and seemingly much better off in the SEC, where they enjoy the best of both worlds – drawing the highest conference revenue distribution check out there year after year and still having a strong recruiting presence in the state of Texas. The Big 12 could offer A&M the moon and the stars to return — which it wouldn’t — and I still don’t think the Aggies would even consider it.

So there you have it. My best guess at which institutions Bill Snyder was referencing when he talked about former conference members wanting back in earlier this week.

One key thing to remember here, in case some of you out there are rolling your eyes about the mere thought of all of this: Bill Snyder is a man of few words and one who likes to avoid the spotlight and keep things close to the vest at all times and at all costs. So if he’s publicly saying that two former Big 12 programs would be interested in rejoining the conference, you can bet there’s a whole lot of truth to that. He does not play games or become a part of tactics to put pressure on others or move an agenda forward. He calls it like he sees it, when he’s calling it at all, and that’s what makes his recent comments all the more interesting.

It will not be easy for the Big 12 to get two of its former members back even if it wanted to. But my guess is that if there’s genuine interest from both sides, it could one day happen. Beyond that, if it were to happen, I think the Big 12 would go past 12 to 14 during its next round of expansion.

It sure seems like it’s coming. As always, it’s just hard to pinpoint the names of those who will be involved.

Buckle up.


Kyle Sybesma 5 years, 3 months ago

This would be so much easier if the Big 12 dissolved. If the Big 12 cannot attract other power 5 conference schools then they are clearly the weakest of the pack.

Texas is already playing politics to drive this expansion with side negotiations and endorsements with Houston. I'm so sick of this being the conference of Texas + 9. UT and the longhorn network were the drivers to break up this conference.

Bobby Oviemena Birhiray 5 years, 3 months ago

Your take is to give up! Take the KU helmet off as your profile pic. Clearly you don't understand.

Doug Wallace 5 years, 3 months ago

Right on Kyle! Big 12 is dead nd Texas Shorthorns killed it!

Dale Rogers 5 years, 3 months ago

Missouri is the only one on the list I would not welcome back. They burned the bridges when they left with their rhetoric and their actions. I thought "good riddance" at the time they left and my opinion has not changed one iota.

Thomas Young 5 years, 3 months ago

wouldn't want Mizzou back either, but I probably hate A&M even more than Mizzou at this point. It's an ugly, fascist university. While Mizzou is a bunch of dysfunctional jackholes, A&M is truly an evil entity.

Jay Scott 5 years, 3 months ago

"An ugly fascist University"? "truly an evil entity"

You don't really know what that means, do you? Your hate is the embodiment of fascism.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

Best just to ignore those kind of statements. It's become so common place for those terms to be tossed around toward anyone that disagrees with them. However, the performance on the MU Campus and their Board of Regents does tend to reinforce the dysfunctional viewpoint.

By the way....If you make D'Souza's movie about HC, hang around for after the credits to hear him say "You know you are an American with you become a Republican." I'm plenty PO'ed with the RNC but I still got a kick out the's all relative.

Jay Scott 5 years, 3 months ago

Ignoring fascists like Young is how Hitler was enabled.

Travis Clementsmith 5 years, 3 months ago

It is difficult to see this move as much more than a band aid. Nobody is leaving SEC or B1G money. The GOR, though not impossible, is going to be a major stumbling block for a member of any other Power 5 Conference. The only real benefits to promoting 2 to 4 schools to the B12 is to increase bowl shares and provide more fodder to the elite football teams to produce better records for playoff consideration. The round robin is a gauntlet that makes undefeated or one loss teams a rarity. Eight years from now, this contract will run out and I would be surprised if the networks look at it with Cincy, BYU, Memphis and Central Florida as must see TV. And that is what the B12 banks on because it doesn't have a network or a population base to support it. KU would be well advised to get its football program in shape and become as attractive as possible to the B1G.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 3 months ago

The one smart thing this conference has done is to announce it is seeking expansion. Doing this makes it easier for current P5 schools to initiate conversation with the league. Not that another P5 school will jump, but it at least paves the way for discussion and consideration.

No offense to Matt, but Colorado does not excite me. If you added Nebraska and BYU, plus UCONN and another school to the east (Temple, Nova, Memphis, Cinci, etc.), you'd have a pretty good conference. As some have suggested, maybe now is the time to go big and add 6. You'd probably get a big pay-in deal, so the current members would get a nice jolt of money now, and some stability later. It also might diffuse the power of Texas and give us some security if they make the boneheaded decision to leave. Maybe now is the time to call their bluff on the LHN.

Vernon Riggs 5 years, 3 months ago

With Snyder, he could have been thinking Washington University of St. Louis, Grinnell College or Drake University from the old Big-Six. He has been around for a long time.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 3 months ago

I'd take Colorado back as a travel partner for BYU and UConn for West Virginia. Add in Central Florida as a destination location and recruiting ground. I think you have some pretty solid options for an East/West Conference. I don't see Nebraska leaving the Big 10.

Andy Tweedy 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm not going to pretend to be smart enough to know what the Big XII SHOULD do, but I am 100% sure what I WANT the Big XII to do. Bring back CU and add BYU and I honestly don't care who else. My favorite trip of the year was to Boulder, it's just such an incredible place to plan a football weekend. And the only place I've been to that rivals Colorado is Utah. I mean who wouldn't want to stop by Arches or Zion before or after a trip to Provo. Add to that the fact that Colorado sports are usually pretty awful and maybe we can get a few extra wins thrown in!!!

Titus Canby 5 years, 3 months ago

The commuter schools such as Cincinnati and Memphis are a downgrade. I don't want them. UConn, South Florida and the other east coast schools are too far away. Not fair to the players.

I would absolutely love to see CU and NU back in the Big 12. If you remember, when NU left, Osborne's quote was "we didn't start this." They bolted because they were concerned the Big 12 might go away. Who started it? Those *&#!s at MU wanted to join the Big 10, and the Big 10 wouldn't take them. If it weren't for MU, we'd still have Nebraska and Colorado.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 3 months ago

I've updated my list: Florida State, Clemson, BYU and Colorado. If we can dump Baylor, I'm for adding Nebraska.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

It would be great to get CU and NU back in the conference. Regardless of how much NU fans and administrators might like to be back with the Big 12, it's not going to happen. CU on the other hand is a real possibility. IMO, CU should be given the top priority if they want to return. As much as I'd love to see UH in the Big 12, after reading up on BYU they have to be the top choice after CU. The addition of CU and BYU would be perfect IMO. However, as we all know .... it's all about money and the money is in Texas.

Since I'm a "retired" Oil & Gas worker, I've got much more time on my hands so it seems I'm in the group that does little more than go around SE Texas talking to people about Big 12 expansion, daily on the golf courses and post round refreshments/dining. Here is the deal as it stands: UT bought about 350 acres of land south of the TX Medical Center in Houston, which happens to be very near the UH main campus. UT wants to expand into Houston to form UT-H, similar to their UT-San Antonio and UT-Arlington (Dallas). However, UH and all the local politicians are bitterly opposed to the expansion. The deal on the table is UH would not oppose UT-H should they support UH entry into the Big 12. Well...guess what...The UT President, and Chancellor coupled with the Governors, Lt. Governor along with several heavy hitters (financially) have come on with strong support for UH should the Big 12 expand. Of course TTU, Baylor and TCU are going along with UT, mostly because some of those heavies, like Drayton McLane (former owner of the Astros and big time BU donor) all have strong financial ties to Houston. The Texas contingent has been going after WVA support by offering to promote Cinti as the second team. Interesting is that the final decision, to get the required 8 votes, lies with OU and KU. With OU goes OSU. KU apparently has a very real option to join the B1G.

If the Big 12 stays together, they will need to go to 14 teams that will probably be:CU, UH, BYU and Cinti. If CU can not make it, UCONN will be the fourth.

The politics of all this seems to be almost as exciting as the National Presidential elections...almost.

Jeff Coffman 5 years, 3 months ago

Fabulous information...I'd like to see KU just go to B1G and get it over with.

Your scenario, is more aligned with what will really happen, and therefore is what is really happening behind closed doors. I think the BigXII explodes in 2-4 years anyways, and I'd like to see KU out before it gets ugly.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

Plz don't take anything I say as gospel. I'm just repeating things that TX people tell me. However, some of those people like to think they know everything that has ever or ever will happen in the world. They talk about the Kansas B1G option like it's something "everybody knows." Seems like I am the last 'to know.' Who knows anyway...there are so many moving parts. Perhaps KU and OU both bolt leaving the Big 12 to be UT and the 'thirteen little sisters."

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 5 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the insight. I really doubt KU goes to the B1G because the politicians in Kansas won't let them go without KSU. And KSU to the B1G ain't happenin'.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 3 months ago

Do you know that for a fact? I've heard comments to the contrary and confess I don't know if we are tied to the hip with them. If we are we need to separate ourselves because it will make relocation problematic should the B12 implode.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

LOL...The only thing I know for a fact is UH will be one of the teams and their are about 20 moving variables associated with Big 12 Expansion. About a year ago a very good friend of mine with playing golf with LJW's Keegan and he told him then the Big 12 would expand by two adding UH and BYU. Whit all the whirling options it could come down not doing anything too radical. What is really cool is how much respect KU Basketball is getting in all this. We'd be a mid-major in a heart beat if it were not for Bill Self and our Basketball program.

Titus Canby 5 years, 3 months ago

Oil & Gas, Suzi? I would have thought you were a J-School grad with your media market size comment on a previous story about expansion.

I have to wonder if West Virginia is regretting joining the Big 12 with all the travel they have to do. What if they went to the ACC and we added either 3 or 5 teams in the central and mountain time zones? How about CU, CSU, BYU, Nebraska, Houston.? (Like I have a vote.)

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

I just have a lot of extra time on my hands and talk to people all day about this kind of thing...and politics. A year ago I heard the league would expand by two to include UH and BYU. Two days ago it way KU and ND were wanted by the B1G. Yesterday I heard TV Execs want to force the 4-16 team super conferences. Today I'm hearing they want to poach 4 PAC-12 teams. Who knows what tomorrow could bring.

I do know that Bill Self is busy talking to all kinds of people about all kinds of options.

Pius Waldman 5 years, 3 months ago

Just a reminder to those that encourage B1G joining there is an agreement that TV rights remain with the Big 12 so hardly even a possibility that will happen. By the way B1G would have to offer and right now even that is not likely. So maybe just hang in with the Big 12.

Travis Clementsmith 5 years, 3 months ago

Well, of course we're going to hang with the B12 right now. If you remember, the B1G signed a contract expansion to expire concurrent with the B12. Contract preparations usually begin about 2 years prior to the expiration, which would be about 2022. So, we got about six years before we need to decide on our future. The B1G is actually much more likely than not. The BiG network sells their network, and that is based on content, the biggest seller is basketball. Plus, we're AAU, we're contiguous with the footprint, and Nebraska is pulling for our inclusion. The Cancer Research Status greatly enhanced the academic profile as well. The only strike against us is the current state of the football program. Hopefully, by six years, we've risen to respectable. That's all we need, just to be respectable. Everything else is a natural fit with the B1G.

Thomas Young 5 years, 3 months ago

For Kansas to get into the B1G, they would have to do what A&M and and Mizzou tried to do, which was kill the conference. They failed, and it cost them money to leave. I really don't want Kansas to pull that kind of crap. But if the conference does begin to fracture, I see Kansas finding a home in the B1G, and I be happy enough with that.

As for expansion, I think that if we exclude the CU and NU possibilities, it's going to be Houston and BYU, while the conference debates the merits of the other schools. I think I would just as soon go grab Memphis and Cincinnati. No, they are big adds, but both have had great success in basketball, moderate success in football, and would add decent markets to the Big 12 footprint.

Houston is a good add, but would be the lowest profile school of the bunch, and really has not had an impact on basketball in decades. But the other three would go a long ways to helping make the Big 12 the premier basketball conference

And while football drives the market, I have no problem rooting for a Big 12 that, while weakest of the Power 5, will still be competitive in football, but which will absolutely dominate basketball. You know, it's okay to just enjoy the a great basketball conference. As much as I want Kansas football to be better, the priority has to be a good home for the basketball program.

Brian Skelly 5 years, 3 months ago

Uncle Bill's feelings not withstanding, its not going to happen. I dont doubt CU and Neb. have more regrets about leaving than Mizzou and A&M. But at this point, it doesnt matter. Those trains have left the station. It's while were back here at this spot again.

I agree that there's plenty of 'signs' that KU would be a great fit for the Big 10. And personally I'd be for all of that. Not the least of which, I think the Big 10 actually VALUES KU's basketball program and its history. It doesnt mean its going to happen though.

Robert Brown 5 years, 3 months ago

Colorado is also tied to a Grant of Rights, so I doubt they will move. I agree with the comment that the Pac-12 has not worked out that well for CU. Their network has under performed and several schools are not happy. If you look at the future revenue prospects, the Big 12 is in better shape than the Pac-12. This should be a cautionary tale to anyone who advocates moving to the Pac-12.

The other three schools would never consider moving back. NU paid a big price to move to the Big 10 and will start to see the rewards. The revenue potential is much greater in the Pac-10 as Northwestern will be making more from its media rights than UT(with the LHN) in the next 3-4 years.

The same can be said for MU and A&M in the SEC. If you track overall revenue by school, you will see that MU has closed the gap with KU and will probably forge ahead in the next few years. I imagine MU is not the best cultural fit in the SEC, but it has been a good move for both the conference and the school.

Robert Howard 5 years, 3 months ago

Love the idea of CU and NU coming back. I also like the symmetry of adding both CU and CSU; they are already in-state rivals for each other and fits the core Big 12 geography (think KU-KSU, OU-OSU, CU-CSU). For that matter it would be great to get IU to round out the state of Iowa too - but that's wishful thinking.

Ahh... Let the games begin

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 3 months ago

I too would love to cut to the chase and join the big ten but they are already at 14 and if they are to add 2 more do you really think we are on their short list? They can pretty much have their pick of the litter and even poach one of the other P5 conferences if they like. I can see all sorts of scenarios that don't involve KU.

Brian Wilson 5 years, 3 months ago

Making money is what this is about and I don't think Houston does anything else for the others other than Texas. If Houston is allowed to join then Texas will have to give up a piece of their TV revenue deal. Probably not happening. But the other teams in the conference will demand and want and need to benefit as well.

So, adding top 50-75 ranked football programs in major tv markets where recruiting is good makes since. South Florida brings both. So does Cincinnati and Memphis. The TV market for CU and recruiting is Limited. Nebraska TV is ok but who other than NU who recruits in the state? UCONN is ok but I have lived there and the school goes unnoticed and the area although populated is not really a hot bed of talent. Past those Villanova, and BYU also fit the bill and IMO an interesting target might be San Diego State.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

The league wants to poach the PAC-12. How would AZ, ASU, UCLA and CU work for you? That poaching may not happen for a couple of years is what may restrict current expansion to two teams....UH and BYU seem set unless a major P5 team wants to turn now.

Jim Stauffer 5 years, 3 months ago

Obviously CU and NU would be great to bring back. The possibility, virtually zero. Big egos do not like to admit mistakes. Although current leadership could most likely blame the mistake on someone else and take the high road of the one correcting it.

In reality, I believe the best of all worlds currently available are Cincy and BYU. Both meet the general qualifications beyond just FB to fit in the league.

Humpy Helsel 5 years, 3 months ago

Never underestimate ego. Wanting to, or having buyer's remorse, or wishing for the good ole days, and raising your hand and saying out loud "please take us back," are two entirely different things. I do not see any of the four coming back to the Big 12 (10) because pride and the taste of crow does't mix well. If any of the four did, it would surely be Colorado. The only scenario which could alter the pride/"sorry, my bad" equation, would be some type of economic development which would significantly alter the picture and help justify a return to the Big 12.

Joseph Bullock 5 years, 3 months ago

Colorado, BYU, Cincinnati, and one of the Florida schools! don't think the Texas schools want Houston, because of Recruiting!

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 3 months ago

It would be an amazing revelation if Nebraska left the big10. For a school to leave the most desirable conference is pretty much an indication that realignment is not working.

Jack Hunden 5 years, 3 months ago

OK - I am an USC guy, but I am also pretty old and remember Texas/Arkansas/TCU/ etc.

It would probably take some guts to add Houston and SMU, particularly the latter. They probably would be very weak for at least two or three years, maybe 5 years. But they would start to recruit players Texas probably wants. That could be a sticking point. Whether it can be a clean program (no more dirty than the average program), could be another sticking point. But there would be some real old ties that could be built upon again and you wouldn't need to look for teams like WV that want to be part of a major conference but really have no history or roots to the area.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 3 months ago

Jack, what are your thoughts on more B12 teams joining the Pac 12? Do you think this is something its members would be receptive to?

Micky Baker 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm sticking with my list from the other day with Connecticut and BYU topping the list. I would throw out Houston, no way that's going to work. That is if we go 12 teams. If we go 14 or 16 teams, which I don't see happening in the next couple of years, don't know what developments are in the future, but I would put them in this order.

Connecticut BYU Colorado Colorado State if we go 14

Connecticut BYU Colorado Colorado State South Florida or Central Florida Cincinnati if we go 16

Good riddens Mizzou and A&M. If Nebraska expressed interest, they would go in Colorado State's spot, but I just don't see that as a possibility right now.

If Texas ever does what they do again, the league needs to set up a way to expel schools from the league to protect the integrity of the league. Texas did almost destroy the league.

No Houston, just throw that out right now in my opinion. No SMU.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 3 months ago

I like Uconn as well but like WVU I have concerns they will bolt for the ACC if and when the opportunity presents itself.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 3 months ago

All four of these schools detonated their bridges with the Big 12 when they left. Bill Snyder is delusional to think that any of them would come back. For my part, I don't want any of them back.

I'd rather see us set up shop in the territory of other conferences. Add Cincinnati, which increases our eastern presence, gets us into both Big 10 (Ohio) and SEC (Kentucky) territory and gives West Virginia a travel partner. Then add Louisiana Tech, which will get us into SEC territory (Louisiana) and get us a foothold in the New Orleans market.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 3 months ago

NU is our partner to get us into the B1G and CU BBall is coached by a Kansas man.

Doug Wallace 5 years, 3 months ago

The B1G is no different that the Big 12.Instead of they Tyrant being in Austin Texas it be in Columbus Ohio!

Jay Scott 5 years, 3 months ago

Michigan administrators, coaches and fans are laughing at the stupidity of that notion...

Doug Wallace 5 years, 3 months ago

I like and respect Snyder as a coach and person even though he is on the enemy team of KSU but I got to say this is pathetic what they are doing to him going out like that and making a fool of himself.

Those 4 teams ARE NOT EVER COMING BACK! EVER! The Big 12 screwed themselves and should have tried to keep them when they were here!

This Conference is dead and you can blame it all on the Texas Longhorns! Even Oklahoma who were buddy buddy are backing off Texas now! They see what a evil poison pill Texas Shorthorns are!They will not ever give up on the LHN!

Screw Memphis,Screw Cincinnati,screw BYU,CSU, and UConn and the AAC Florida Teams!

5 teams from the Big 12 KU,OU,OSU,T Tech,and KSU should join forces and all 5 of try to get in to the Pac-12.May be a long shot but hey all 5 schools bring in alot of new viewers and mrkets into the Pac-12 they never had.

Big 12-2 is dead as disco!

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