The Big 12 is alone now.
That is the message that has been sent from the other Power 5 conferences.
And now that? He’s in the Big 12 to remain relevant in the eyes of the college football playoff committee going forward. That might not happen with a Power 5 label, but that doesn’t mean the Big 12 can’t stay in the CFP berth mix as long as at least six automatic berths remain as part of the proposal.
How do the Big 12 do that? Easy answer. ESPN reports that the conference has formed a four-person committee to discuss the expansion.
They have confirmed from multiple sources that there is a four-person subcommittee at the Big 12 meeting today to explore the expansion.
– Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) August 27, 2021
BYU has become one of the leading options, according to The Athletic. If the Big 12 decide to expand from what will be eight teams once the Sooners and Longhorns leave, then it will resemble the beauty pageant from the last time the conference considered adding teams in 2016.
BYU, Cincinnati, and Houston were the top candidates at the time. How would the Big 12 feel about those schools now?
Potential revenue and TV numbers will be the main factors, but the Big 12 must also weigh size and success in making those moves. Note that among the eight schools remaining in the Big 12, the state of Oklahoma is the only school with a winning percentage above .700 since 2011 and the state of Iowa has the largest stadium capacity at 61,500.
Here are the remaining eight Big 12 schools ordered by stadium size (winning percentage over the past 10 seasons):
|SCHOOL||% WINNER||STADIUM SIZE|
|State of Iowa||.440||61,500|
|State of oklahoma||.703||56,790|
|State of Kansas||.619||50,000|
There isn’t a 65,000+ stadium in the Big 12 right now, and none of the remaining schools have appeared in the College Football Playoff. Can the conference add more teams to improve competition?
Now look at the potential candidates who were in that beauty pageant last time sorted by the same metrics:
Knowing those numbers, BYU offers the best combination of size and success. The Cougars have a television network, the largest stadium and a .628 winning percentage versus an independent schedule. Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel described all the reasons why BYU is a no-brainer for the conference if they take the expansion route. BYU is a private school affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the school’s honor code has been vetted, especially for their views on LGBTQ students.
That should be addressed, because from a soccer standpoint, BYU makes the most sense in today’s landscape.
Who else would make a good addition? The problem is that the rest of the candidates do not check so many boxes.
Boise State is the board’s most successful program in the last 10 years. The Broncos were in pursuit of the national championship with Chris Petersen in the era of the Bowl Championship Series, and they are a contender every year in the Mountain West Conference. However, the stadium is small and this is a hyper-regional add-on in the mountain time zone. Still, Boise State has done everything TCU did before becoming a Power 5 school.
Houston, Rice and SMU would be the best regional fits. Those three schools stayed with the old Southwest Conference until the end of 1996, but none have been able to graduate to Power 5 status. Rice has the largest stadium of the three, and Houston and Rice are located in the large Texas markets.
UCF and Cincinnati have stayed out of the college football playoff conversation in recent seasons. Both programs have been stepping stones for Power 5 coaches, but they have been trying to be in Power 5 for years. Adding the Bearcats gives West Virginia a natural rival, and UCF opens the Florida market. It still feels the same as last time, but these are the top two programs of the American Athletic Conference right now. Are they big enough for the big 12?
Memphis would be the other AAC school worth considering. The Tigers play in the Liberty Bowl and have enjoyed consistent success in the CFP era under Justin Fuente and now Ryan Silverfield. Memphis is still considered a school that prioritizes basketball, especially with Penny Hardaway, but there has been buzz around the soccer program when things are going well.
That’s the ground for Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby if the conference is to remain relevant in the long term. The Big 12 might consider a merger with the AAC, but at that point those eight schools would be devalued at some level. Why not elevate others instead?
The most pragmatic movement? Close BYU, take a chance with Boise State, and work on another beauty pageant with the other six schools. That would bring the conference back at 12 and, at the very least, bridge the Power 4 and Group of 5 conferences. If the CFP expands, then the big 12 champion would be at least a regular player in the playoffs.
It is not the worst idea because it is the best case to survive.
That is what you have to do when you are alone.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.