Big 12 Conference to begin exploring expansion candidates

By Kevin Kelley -

On Tuesday during the Big 12 Conference Media Days, the conference announced that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will begin exploring a possible expansion of two to four teams.

The announcement came as a surprise to many, as it seemed the conference was going to hold at ten members even after reinstating the football championship game beginning next season.

“If we are to expand, we want to find the strongest possible partners for expansion,” University of Oklahoma president and Big 12 Board of Directors chairman David Boren said in a teleconference. “And we talk about strong partners. We’re not talking about just athletic partners, which of course that’s very important; what is the fan base; what is the TV following, the broadcast following of these teams. But also what are the academic standards of these schools, what reputations do these schools have as institutions of integrity and shared values with us.”

Immediately after the announcement, speculation began on which teams the Big 12 might invite. The most likely teams include BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, and UCF. Other teams frequently mentioned are Boise State, UConn, USF, and Colorado State.

“We’ve been contacted by a number of institutions, and I would imagine after this news breaks we’ll be contacted again,” Bowlsby said.

Bowlsby later indicated to CBSSports.com that they have previously been contacted by 25 schools. Those schools will surely be in contact with the Big 12 again if they haven’t already.

Whether the conference ultimately expands by two or four teams, the new members likely won’t be able to officially join the Big 12 until the summer of 2017.

An expansion of the Big 12 by two teams wouldn’t create that much of an effect on other conferences. If it’s two teams, it’s likely going to be BYU and an AAC team like Cincinnati, Memphis or Houston. That would possibly open up a spot in the AAC for UMass, which began playing as an Independent this season.

If four teams are invited to the Big 12, the AAC or the MWC could end up losing one or two members each. That might open up a spot in the MWC for New Mexico State, whose membership in the Sun Belt expires after the 2017 season.

Whatever the case may be, a decision could be made by the conference before October.

“It’s possible that this could extend to our October board meeting, but it’s also possible that we could have a special meeting sometime between now and then,” Bowlsby said.

  1. Josh
    July 20, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Bob Bowlsby has to be one of the dumbest people alive. How the B12 lets him speak in public at this point is beyond me. The conference wasted money on a study to see if a champ. game would help the playoff chances. Well, just look at your peers, Bob. Then, that awful media days speech, followed by being told by the university leadership to seek expansion candidates. I do not understand how this guy has a job. No idea.

  2. Day
    July 20, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    I like the expansion of The Big-12, may be BYU & Boise St for starters even though I think Houston has a good run at it. Not sure if BYU would want to be part of a conference if they can hang by themselves as independent with the TV deal & all.

  3. Z Man
    July 20, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    Boise State and BYU should get in. Maybe also Houston, Memphis, SMU and Temple.

    Cincy and UConn should join the ACC.

    • brad idlett
      July 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

      Z man the reason cincy will get the bid is because of West by god Virginia they need/want a team that is in close proximity to them

    • Joe
      July 23, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      The ACC doesn’t want or need either of those two teams.

      The Big 12 should go for BYU and either Houston, Memphis, or Tulane.

  4. schoup
    July 20, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    The Big 12 is a clown show, run by the lead clown UT. The only reason they are suddenly for expansion, something they should have done before, is b/c ACC announced a conf network with ESPN and extension of grant of rights to 2036. ND is included in the extension. The small chance they were hoping to lure a FSU maybe is done. The deal also keeps B10 away who was lookingto lure schools away such as UNC, UVA, Gtech. Big 12 like always is reactionary in realignment/expansion

  5. GEG
    July 20, 2016 at 5:47 pm

    Instead of expanding. The Big 12 should break apart. It’s time for Texas to become a independent.

  6. Travis B
    July 20, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    This possible expansion also effects scheduling in the form of BYU.

    BYU has a full 12 game schedule set for 2017 and if they joined, they would have to remove 8 or 9 games from it depending on what the conference decides for number of conference games. That will most likely leave LSU, Utah, Wisconsin, Mississippi St, and Boise St (they have an agreement with them) as the 5 most likely to stay and they will still have to cut 1 or 2 of those games. The other 7 will be cut from the schedule for sure. This will leave possibly a few P5 teams scrambling for a P5 replacement in 2017. We shall see how it goes though…

    • Travis B
      July 20, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Also, if BYU joins the B12 in 2017, there is no doubt they will have the toughest schedule in the country.

  7. Billy
    July 20, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    A friend of mine suggested that the Big 12 should look at adding “fun” destinations with the potential of good times to their conference in adding Tulane (New Orleans) and UNLV (Las Vegas). In all honesty, I could think of worse. Will be interesting to see what shakes out.

  8. Ryan
    July 20, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    My vote is 12 with Cincinnati and BYU. If they really think they need 14 then go for both of the Florida markets.

  9. gator HATER!
    July 21, 2016 at 1:13 am

    I go with 4…. Houston, BYU, Memphis and either Cincy or Colorado State. I like the Bearcats and Rams hard to pick #4

  10. brad idlett
    July 21, 2016 at 2:26 am

    Cincy will get the nod because of West Virginia plus all of the renovations that have been done at the school plus they know bearcats travel extremely well and we can use Paul brown stadium anytime an Oklahoma or Texas comes to town

    • brad idlett
      July 21, 2016 at 2:33 am

      And we will pack either stadium Paul brown or nippert do some research on cincy and you will be extremely surprised with all the renovations they’ve done and worth more on the way to fifth third arena

  11. Mac
    July 21, 2016 at 7:41 am

    The way I see it, if expansion will occur, I would think they would look to pick more geographically suitable teams (Houston, BYU, Boise State, and Memphis) to fulfill their goal. North Dakota State COULD generate interest in a few years. Should 2 teams from the AAC depart for the XII, I would think that UMass and Army would fill their spots. The next questions following, especially if Army joins, is what happens to the IND (Notre Dame) and the annual Army/Navy game? They would most likely have to move the game up to “RIVALRY WEEK” to satisfy the playoff committees timeline to get bowl games and playoff games assigned ASAP rather than wait an additional two weeks to finalize everything (especially if Navy or Army could be a “bowl buster”). Next, this realignment and departure would leave Notre Dame as the only Independent team left, and that could provide a lot of pressure on them. With all but one independent team left, Notre Dame would either a.) Renegotiate the requirements needed to be considered for playoff consideration, such as having to play AT LEAST 2 teams from each POWER 5 conference, but not play the same teams in a specific time frame; or b.) Officially join a conference full-time. It’s going to be interesting to see where this leads.

    • brad idlett
      July 21, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      Who is close to west Virginia there’s only one team(cincy) don’t you think the big 12 will give them at least one school that is closer to them

  12. David
    July 21, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Let’s presume a lot of this is to assuage WVU. With 12, Cincy is in. With 14, it’s Cincy & Memphis. Now, for each team taken to fill east, it makes sense to go west in adjacent states. They don’t need more Texas, they have 4 great schools there. Sorry, Houston. So, that means Colorado State first to get to 12 with Cincy, and then BYU with Memphis to get to 14. I suspect that CSU & Cincy can be added quickly for 2017. The MW can get NMSU. The American can take UMass, as was mentioned. Helps UConn have a travel partner, and keeps an NFL stadium in the mix for the American. In 2018, BYU can come in without torquing off all their 2017 date teams, and Memphis can come along. To compensate, the 2017 XII championship will be held in Memphis, under the FedEx banner. Make it so. BYU affects no other conference, and for Memphis, the American can pick up any number of teams out of CUSA, who likewise will grab any Sun Belt school it wants.
    :
    Sorry Boise, you’re too far afield, and don’t have the populations that the states of Colorado and Utah bring. Florida? Travel, sorry. WVU is far enough. Plus, the ACC and SEC would always have the better 3 schools. UCF and USF will never be FSU or UF.

  13. Steve
    July 21, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    They should add both University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University. They can’t offer much (sport wise) but they can offer lots and lots of green chile!!!

    • Joe
      July 23, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      You know, I don’t think enough consideration has been given to what you say.

      You make a great point, though. Because, let’s face it: green chile should always beat television markets.

  14. Josh
    July 21, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    BYU and Cincy I think make the most sense. Houston and Memphis have also had some great seasons as of late so those school would make a lot of sense too. I think the Big 12 should go up to 14 schools. The ACC, Big 10, and SEC all have 14 schools. If the Big 12 really wants to make a big change and to really try to grow, 14 schools should be their goal.

    • Mac
      July 22, 2016 at 10:54 am

      As it stands right now, the big consensus is Houston and BYU. The question is do they go geographically or another route? West Virginia is the oddball in geography in relation to the other teams, therefore travel is quite skewed. Memphis and/or Cincy could somehow alleviate that, but then again the heartland is where the money lies. How will then align the divisions? East and West? North and South? UConn would be a better fit in the ACC, but I could see either Boise State or Colorado State completing the expansion.

      North: BYU, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Memphis, West Virginia
      South: Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech

    • Andrew Moser
      July 23, 2016 at 6:07 pm

      Mac, you have the impeccable alignment for the new divisions in the Big 12 Conference as a 14-team league. This alignment would benefit all 14 schools academically, athletically, and culturally. Each school would play a 9-game conference schedule, just like the Big Ten does with its schools.

      Thanksgiving match-ups would be the following: BYU-Iowa State, Cincinnati-West Virginia, Kansas-Kansas State, Memphis-Houston, Baylor-TCU, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, and Texas-Texas Tech.

      Annual crossover games would be the following: BYU-Baylor, Cincinnati-Texas Tech, Iowa State-Oklahoma, Kansas-Oklahoma State, Kansas State-TCU, Memphis-Houston, and West Virginia-Texas.

      In odd years, the North Division teams would have five home games and four road games. The South Division teams would have four home games and five road games,

      In even years, it is vice verse for both divisions and their respective teams.

  15. @dbrunstheworld
    July 22, 2016 at 10:54 am

    If there was to be football-only, which I don’t think there will be, Hawaii is the one team I am surprised has not been mentioned. UH’s 13th game, plus the 13th game enabled for 4-5 B12 opponents annually, add to TV inventory and gate receipts. Plus the time zones.

    But really I think it should and will be all sports for BYU and one other as the additions.

  16. MrVandy212
    July 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Surprised there is no talk about the Pac-12 going to 14.

    With that said, I’d add Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, and Tulane to the Big 12.

    Division Breakdown:
    North: West Virginia, Cincinnati, Iowa St., Kansas St., Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St,
    South: Texas Tech, Texas, TCU, Baylor, Houston, Tulane, Memphis

    Thanksgiving weekend rivalries:
    Texas-Texas Tech
    West Virginia-Cincinnati
    TCU-Baylor
    Houston-Tulane
    Memphis-Iowa St.
    Kansas-Kansas St.
    Oklahoma-Oklahoma St,

    Permanent Crossovers:
    Memphis-Iowa St.
    Texas-Oklahoma
    Texas Tech-Oklahoma St.
    TCU-Kansas
    Baylor-Kansas St.
    Houston-Cincinnati
    Tulane-West Virginia
    (could also go the route of just having Memphis-Iowa St. & Texas-Oklahoma as only permanent crossovers)

    While BYU could easily slide into Tulane’s slot in South (with Thanksgiving weekend opponent being BYU-Texas Tech and Texas-Houston), I feel like geographically they are a better fit in the PAC-12.

    If PAC-12 were to go to 14, I’d go with either:
    a) BYU & Air Force
    b) Nevada & UNLV
    c) BYU & Colorado St.

    • JR
      August 2, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      It’s a great possibility that Kentucky & Arkansas may join the Big 12 especially Kentucky down the road from Cincy, and probably Memphis and Houston.

    • Day
      August 3, 2016 at 8:08 am

      Kentucky & Arkansas make to much money being in the SEC & are not going anywhere plus the SEC needs Kentucky for basketball since it is the only team that can manage to remain in the top 10 year in & year out.

  17. crimson tsunami (@thomas_matakas)
    July 23, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    The B12 will do well to maintain thier credibility by showing Baylor the door before entertaining this expansion endeavor.

  18. Traegan
    July 23, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I think BYU and Notre dame will be good two teams in the BIG 12 conference Because Notre dame has a contact with NBC as will BYU contract with Espn and Their own TV channel (BYUTV) and put them in same division that way they can beat them Catholic vs Mormon who is the BEST churches between catholic or Mormon? Hears the Divisions is North and South divisions. North teams is Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, West Virgina, BYU and Notre dame. South teams is Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
    On thanksgiving weekend games is Kansas vs Kansas State, Iowa State vs West Virgina, Texas vs Texas Tech, TCU vs Baylor, and Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State. Saturday Night at 9:00 PM ET play in Provo, Utah. then if they play in South Bend Indiana 7:00 ET They play the games on NBC

  19. brad idlett
    July 23, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Your dreaming if you really think Notre Dame would go to the big 12 or your high

  20. Jacob1210
    July 24, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    What about appslachian state university they Could fit well with the big 12 expectations

    • Traegan
      July 24, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      Will I don’t think Appalachian State will be interested in the Big 12. Because If BYU and Notre dame add to the big 12 conference. Leave only Army and Massusetts in The Independents. Then Army and Massusetts will be in the Sun Belt conference in year of 2018 season.

  21. Traegan
    July 24, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Will I don’t think Appalachian State will be interested in the Big 12. Because If BYU and Notre dame add to the big 12 conference. Leave only Army and Massusetts in The Independents. Then Army and Massusetts will be in the Sun Belt conference in year of 2018 season.

    • brad idlett
      July 24, 2016 at 9:46 pm

      Traegan Notre Dame is an entity in itself if Notre wanted to play in the power 5 conference they have had there shot the Acc begged them and nothing an if they wanted to be in the SEC conference they could be

  22. David
    July 25, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    They’re smoking something in Boone.

  23. Mac
    July 26, 2016 at 11:01 am

    My projection of conference expansions/realignments in the next decade:

    XII: North: BYU, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Memphis, West Virginia
    South: Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech

    PAC-14: North: Boise State, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State
    South: Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Colorado State, UCLA, USC, Utah

    AAC: North: Army, East Carolina, Navy, Temple, UConn, UMass
    South: SMU, Tulane, Tulsa, UCF, USF, Western Kentucky

    Notre Dame: Either join conference full-time or required to reassess playoff contention, such as having to play at least two opponents from each Power 5 yearly, but can’t play same teams in specific time frame.

    Army/Navy: Will be required to move game from mid-December to late November to satisfy time frame of selecting bowl games (in the event Army or Navy become at-large).

    • MrVandy212
      July 26, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      OBSERVATIONS
      XII: I see BYU/Memphis in the South and Okla/OklaSt in the North. Makes sense to divide the big two (Tex/Okla) into separate divisions.
      PAC: Boise St. will never be in the Pac. Better chance of BYU, Air Force, Nevada, or UNLV.
      AAC: See it more likely the American will refill with another Texas team like Rice or UTSA. No reason to add Western Kentucky (Charlotte, Southern Miss, Villanova, and Northern Illinois among others would be ahead of them).
      ND: I see them eventually joining ACC along with UConn.
      Army/Navy: Yes, I see this game being moved to this weekend as well eventually. Perhaps they can find a time slot occupied by no other on that weekend.

    • David
      July 26, 2016 at 2:40 pm

      Darkhorse for PAC is New Mexico. Although Boise’s academics are finally nearing Idaho and surpassing Idaho State…. it isn’t very likely. UNM as the large state school in a growing state, connects ASU and U of A to CSU and CU-Boulder well.

    • David
      July 26, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      ACC: More likely Notre Dame joins for football along with Navy for football only. Both in a northern ACC division gives Notre Dame its annual game with Navy, and yearlies with BC, Pitt, Syracuse, Louisville, etc. Bringing Navy into port is the only way to get Notre Dame in.

    • Vic
      July 26, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      David, in a potential ACC North, Notre Dame would see Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Connecticut (other expansion candidate) every year. I assume they would possibly have Miami(FL) as a permanent cross-over,and only not seeing Georgia Tech every year of their historic ACC rivals, which they don’t do now anyway.

      ND can still play Navy OOC if ND comes all in. The other rivalries are the ones that would have to rotate (USC, Stanford, Michigan St., Purdue … notice I left Michigan out).

    • David
      July 27, 2016 at 11:31 am

      You’re not splitting UNC and UVa divisionally when the ACC realigns. They’ll not want any locked crossovers, so they can use a 6 divisional + 3 cross rotating. On a ND football + Navy only football model, you get:
      Atlantic: ND, Navy, BC, Pitt, Syr, Louisville, FSU, Miami
      Coastal: UVa, UNC, NCSU, Duke, Wake, Clemson, VT, GT
      That gives annual ND/Navy, NC/BC, ND/Pitt, ND/FSU and ND/Miami, the ONLY way you get Notre Dame in. You’re not going to tell ND to play 9 games in conference, and use the 10th for Navy. This way, they still have 3 games to pick up USC, a Big Ten, and another school each year.

    • Vic
      July 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      Guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  24. David
    July 26, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    American: WKU makes a lot of sense. It’s over 20K students, the state of Kentucky’s #2 university now and a relief valve for UK, large alumni base, well supported, and is in the Nashville-Louisville corridor. Charlotte’s still a commuter school, USM is third in its state, Villanova isn’t leaving FCS, NIU rules the MAC.

    • Vic
      July 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm

      I think WKU is third largest in the state, after Kentucky and Louisville. Depends if you’re looking at total students or undergrads.

      WKU is in the extremely coveted market #182 of Bowling Green.

      Again, UTSA or Rice are likely to fill the Texas void and one of them will be at the top of the list.

      So Charlotte is a commuter school? Guess what, so are UCF, Cincinnati, Houston, and Memphis…. and they’re all in the AAC! Charlotte is in one of the fastest growing markets too.

      So WKU is a longshot at best.

    • David
      July 27, 2016 at 11:26 am

      No, Charlotte still sees a large portion of its students drive from homes, not from dorms. Memphis and Cincinnati have huge on-campus communities. Even UCF has tried to build such a community around the stadium on the north end of campus… sort of working. With 60,000 students, even if 1/6 of UCF’s students live on campus, they have more than Charlotte. Anyway, Bowling Green is part of the extended Nashville market area… so it’s a lot better than #182. Charlotte’s only existed since 1946, and only as a University since 1972. WKU is *old*.

    • Vic
      July 27, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Bowling Green is not part of the extended Nashville market. It is a separate television market for a reason. Nashville stations NEVER cover Bowling Green. You can look that up. Being on the corridor means nothing. If that were the case, a million schools would have a claim to move up. I’ve lived in Nashville. I’ve never seen ANYONE walking around with a Bowling Green shirt on. Also, not sure what WKU’s age has to do with anything. That’s irrelavant.

    • Vic
      July 27, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      *Meant WKU shirt.

  25. Maverick
    August 2, 2016 at 3:48 am

    If Big 12 is about to go to 14, look out for the original large shift in confernces, i.e:
    Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be going to the Pac-12 to make it the Pac-16.

  26. Benjamin C
    August 3, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I know it might be a long shot and the names mentioned in the article are more likely, but what about Northern Illinois (NIU)? Iowa St is in no mans land and this would at least bring another north part of the midwest school. NIU is a quality school from both an educational and sport facility standpoint with many upgrades in recent years or currently being constructed. They have a significant alumni base in Chicago and the school is only 60 mi from Chicago, which is a top 5 tv market.

  27. Will
    August 4, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I think Marshall deserves a spot in the AAC and I don’t think the big 12 wants Tulane in there conference cause they haven’t one anything and and Charlotte well they just started their program so it’s not good a chance that they will go to the AAC and plus Marshall has the best facilities by far in Conference USA

  28. Traegan
    August 12, 2016 at 8:03 am

    I think that BYU will be great team to put them in the Big 12 as will Louisville go to the Big 12. Because if Louisville go to the Big 12 then Notre dame will join in the ACC. North and South Division. North is Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, West Virgina, Louisville, and BYU. South division is TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

    On Thanksgiving weekend games is Kansas vs Kansas State, West Virgina vs Iowa State, Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, TCU vs Baylor, Texas vs Texas Tech, BYU vs Louisville.

  29. Jeff
    August 16, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Houston, BYU, Boise State, and Cindy no questions asked. Time for s n ec pansion

  30. Traegan
    August 17, 2016 at 7:56 am

    I think that BYU will be great team to put them in the Big 12 as will Boise state go to the Big 12. Because if BYU go to the Big 12 then Boise state will join in the Big 12. North and South Division. North is Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, West Virgina, Boise state, and BYU. South division is TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

    On Thanksgiving weekend games is Kansas vs Kansas State, West Virgina vs Iowa State, Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, TCU vs Baylor, Texas vs Texas Tech, BYU vs Boise state
    Then New Mexico State will replace the Boise state in the Mountain West conference

  31. Traegan
    August 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm

    I think that BYU will be great team to put them in the Big 12 as will Boise state go to the Big 12. Because if BYU go to the Big 12 then Boise state will join in the Big 12. North and South Division. North is Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, West Virgina, Boise state, and BYU. South division is TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

    On Thanksgiving weekend games is Kansas vs Kansas State, West Virgina vs Iowa State, Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, TCU vs Baylor, Texas vs Texas Tech, BYU vs Boise state
    Then New Mexico State will replace the Boise state in the Mountain West conference

  32. Traegan
    August 30, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I think that BYU will be great team to put them in the Big 12 as will Boise state go to the Big 12. Because if BYU go to the Big 12 then Boise state will join in the Big 12. North and South Division. North is Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, West Virgina, Boise state, and BYU. South division is TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.

    On Thanksgiving weekend games is Kansas vs Kansas State, West Virgina vs Iowa State, Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, TCU vs Baylor, Texas vs Texas Tech, BYU vs Boise state
    Then New Mexico State will replace the Boise state in the Mountain West conference

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