Even as things change, it's more of the same with Big 12 expansion talk


I’m as interested as the next guy in seeing exactly what happens with all of this Big 12 expansion talk, chatter that makes the possibility of new schools joining the league seem more and more real every day.

Wednesday, news surfaced across the country from various Big 12 expansion candidates who made it known they were officially no longer being considered by the Big 12 Conference.

My question is this: Did you really have to let us know?

With all due respect to all of these institutions, which surely have some wonderful attributes and attractions, I’m not sure that very many people out there actually thought or even considered that you had a chance of joining the Big 12 in the first place.

That’s not to sound snobby, but did anyone actually think that East Carolina, UNLV, New Mexico, Boise State, Arkansas State, Northern Illinois or even San Diego State truly had a shot at getting in?

If those schools were real candidates — which they weren't — the Big 12 would’ve done better to just shut the doors, sell off the remaining 10 members to the four other Power 5 conferences for cash and then use the money to take the Big 12 administrative staff on the mother of all year-long cruises.

Those seven schools mentioned above, according to a report from, were the schools that were told this week that they were out. Some of them decided to send out press releases or hold news conferences and others simply let the dream die quietly.

I’ve got nothing against any of those schools and actually think each one has a lot going for it. But the Big 12 simply cannot — and obviously will not — add any school as a full-time member because it is located in a nice climate or has a short history of world-beating football success or is close to other relevant schools in other conferences.

This is too big of a decision and too much is at stake. Heck, even the dozen or so schools that remain in the hunt for a possible invite still leave more than a little to be desired, which is why the idea of the Big 12 staying put at 10 teams remains in play, even if it’s not the most likely outcome.

At this point, there are more than a few people out there who believe that adding two teams — most likely two of the trio of BYU, Cincinnati and Houston — will be the way the Big 12 goes. And the time is coming when we will find out — one way or another.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby continues to explore and vet candidates and that same report indicated that Bowlsby and the Big 12 would like to make a final decision on expansion by the next board of directors meeting scheduled for Oct. 17.

Therein lies the one key thing to remember about all of this: It’s the board of directors and university chancellors and presidents who ultimately will make this call.

Remember the last time conference realignment was so hot? Back then, you heard athletic directors from just about every Big 12 Conference institution speaking their minds, sharing their thoughts and even offering thinly veiled threats whenever someone stuck a recorder in their faces. Missouri’s Mike Alden. Texas’ DeLoss Dodds. Oklahoma’s Joe Castiglione. Heck, even athletic directors from Kansas State and Baylor and Iowa State had little problem sharing their thoughts.

Not this time. If you notice, you’re not hearing much of anything from any of the conference athletic directors and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

That’s not to say the ADs don’t have a say in any of this. They do. But how much say and just how far that goes depends upon their relationship with their presidents and chancellors.

At KU, the relationship between Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and athletic director Sheahon Zenger always has been stellar. There is a great deal of mutual respect between the two and Gray-Little has a lot of faith in Zenger’s ability to run the athletic department while she offers guidance and a sounding board for any issues, questions or concerns Zenger might have.

That type of relationship works because both people have the best interest of both KU and the Big 12 at heart.

So now we wait.

While folks at UConn, South Florida, Central Florida, Colorado State, Air Force, SMU, Temple and Tulane join BYU, Cincinnati and Houston in continuing to try to convince Bowlsby and company that their school is the right one to expand with, everything remains up in the air and on the table.

By this time next month, we may be closer to a resolution. But we also may still be wondering if the future of the Big 12 Conference will include 10, 12 or even 14 institutions.

In short, the fun is just beginning. Still.


Suzi Marshall 6 years, 3 months ago

I've been reading that ESPN/FOX has given the 'go-ahead' for the Big 12 to expand by 2. Houston and BYU are supposedly the two those networks prefer. Assuming the networks can be convinced to agree, how much of a problem would it be to add 3 teams (UH, BYU and UC)? Those 3 seem to be the clear favorites and all deserve a Power 5 spot.

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

That's a great question. If you have three programs that you like equally (and it's close in this case) then is there a way to add all three instead of having to choose which one to leave out?

My guess is the answer is no. Leagues have messed with unbalanced numbers before and although it has worked it has not been ideal.

If the Big 12 decides it HAS to have all three, then I think you'd see them grind it out to find No. 4 before settling on moving forward with 13.

Wouldn't it be wild if it came down to that? For my money, it'd be a dog fight between Colorado State (potential) and UConn (known commodity) for that 14th spot.

I'm not dumb enough to bet on any of this, but if you forced me to bet a candy bar I'd say they pick 2 of the 3 you mentioned and leave it at 12.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 3 months ago

Since the networks apparently gave their 'blessing' to add two teams, it might be a stretch to maintain good relations by going to 14. But if that 14th team was UCONN, local to ESPN, perhaps the local pull might make 14 attractive.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 6 years, 3 months ago

Its too bad UCONN is so darn far away. They check all the boxes in my mind; with the exception of football greatness. Great basketball (women's and men's) and excellent academics. I think they are even too far from Morgantown to be considered a travel partner.

If I were to also bet a candy bar, I'd bet on Houston and BYU (football only), but wish Colorado State and Cincy were also invited.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

If they checked ALL the boxes they would be in the ACC.

I still think they would be a great addition. BYU, Cincy, Memphis and UConn.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 6 years, 3 months ago

I've heard Boston College blocked UCONN from the ACC a few times. Kinda like Florida blocking Florida State from joining the SEC.

Andy Tweedy 6 years, 3 months ago

Matt, if I were writing for or a fan of one of those teams, I'd be glad they said something. The worst part about this whole thing is there is never really any concrete news, just a bunch of people in forums who think they have a complete understanding of the criteria and how it fits each school. So knowing something concrete is a good thing to me, ESPECIALLY if I were say a UNLV fan.

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

That's a fair point, as well. And I definitely understand it. I've tried to inquire with a bunch of people about where things stand and while a few were willing to talk off the record, most were just as happy to say nothing. Understandable, given the magnitude of what's going on and what's at stake for so many involved.

Dale Rogers 6 years, 3 months ago

I would like to have seen San Diego state in the Big 12 for a very selfish reason: I live in San Diego County. I would have been able to attend that one KU basketball game each season. Plus, this is a great place for fans to enjoy on the days surrounding the game. Oh, well.

Jeff Coffman 6 years, 3 months ago

I wish we could throw out Baylor...than add the three mentioned. All in Favor

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

Second stupidest comment of the year after the one about how Perry Ellis is essentially the same player as Harrison Barnes.

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

I don't know that it could or even would happen, but I would be willing to bet that you could get some decent momentum for a Houston in and Baylor out scenario given the black eyes on the Bears' resume these days.

Again, it would take a monster effort to make something like that happen and I'm not sure anyone is truly willing to go through with it, but this isn't the only place I've heard rumblings of something like what Jeff mentioned.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 3 months ago

They are not that far removed from their basketball scandal. I wonder if they could be evicted for code of conduct violations. Not that I want to get rid.

Michael Lorraine 6 years, 3 months ago

How about trading WVU to the ACC for Louisville. Straight up. No cash or player to be named later.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 3 months ago

Doesn't sound as bad as the dead carcasses that get kicked around by some, but I'm not particularly interested in adding BYU.

Steve Corder 6 years, 3 months ago

BYU & Cincinnati

Takes 8 votes to get in. Who wants Houston in the B12 to recruit Houston kids who are presently going to the other B12 teams?

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 3 months ago

Those Houston kids are going to SEC school. UH has commitment from 12 of the top 100 2017 Houston area kids. Since TAMU left the Big 12, 'Bama, Auburn, Miss, MSU and other SEC schools are now in the area. LSU has always recruited well in the Houston area .

Mike Barnhart 6 years, 3 months ago

I LOVE the sell idea!!! Sell us to the Pac 12 along with K-State, Texas and Tech. Then sell OU and OSU to the SEC and Iowa State and West Virginia to the Big 10. Then trade TCU and Baylor to the AAC for a bag of footballs and a case of athletic tape!

Dirk Medema 6 years, 3 months ago

While it would be nice to have KU visit the left coast regularly, there is absolutely no way I want them to be part of that conference.

Baylor to anyone for a bag of footballs seems optimistic.

Doug Wallace 6 years, 3 months ago

Thats what Im talking about!

Nah on Texass Shorthorns gonig to the Pac but Add Both Kansas schools Oklahoma schools and Texas Tech to the Pac-12.

Iowa State and UConn to the B1G!

WVU should go to the ACC to join Miami and VTech.

Anyone who thinks the Pac for the 5 teams I mentioned are foolish not to like that I mean that conference is run so well and there is so much good competition and there is no telling who might win it all in that conference which makes it exciting

Dirk Medema 6 years, 3 months ago

Wasn't it this site that was evaluating BSU as one of the top (?dozen?) options for expansion?

Matt Tait 6 years, 3 months ago

I do not recall that. Might've been included on a list or perhaps Keegan did something over the summer?

Doug Wallace 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow folks we are now Big East 2.0 let us stand up and be proud!

Please Pac-12 take both Kansas Big 12 schools and Oklahoma Schools and Texas Tech please reconsider taking us!

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

The Big East and Big12 are as similar as Perry Ellis and Harrison Barnes.

Ron Sterling 6 years, 3 months ago

I still think going to 16 is the thing to do. You know sooner or later, the Big10, SEC, or ACC is going to pull the trigger on getting to that number and set off yet another arms race. Why not, instead of playing catch up, be the first to the punch for once?

We've got the opportunity and more than enough quality partners. For my money go UH, BYU, Cincy, Memphis, UConn, and either Tulane or CSU. Anything less and the Big 12 will just be biding its time until the Big10, SEC, ACC, and Pac12 tear us apart for the remaining pieces. Either way, KU will be fine (since the Big10 will take us in a heartbeat), but our neighbors may not be so lucky.

Steve Hillyer 6 years, 3 months ago

The biggest question in all of this in my opinion is if the GOR is going to be extended if the B12 does need expand, if it isn't then the final countdown on B12 implosion is officially on.

Ben Kane 6 years, 3 months ago

why is bringing in yet another texas school so attractive?

what is wrong with USF and UCF and opening up recruiting in the hottest talent state where we currently have no pipelines?

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

Bad schools with bad football and bad basketball are good options because a large number of people live in that state? ... but a Texas school is bad?


Dirk Medema 6 years, 3 months ago

I want to see UH be relevant for more than 1 QB before deciding they're great. Same thing goes for Memphis. It will be interesting to see how Memphis does this year without their NFL QB. Similarly, it will also be interesting to see how BU does with our sized roster, they obviously have higher rated players and upperclassmen vs. our lower rated underclassmen.

Jay Scott 6 years, 3 months ago

Which "one" are you referring to? Current star starter Greg Ward Jr? Heisman winner Andre Ware? Record setting David Klingler? Rams starter Case Keenum?

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