If the Big 12 decides to expand beyond 10 members, San Diego State isn’t going to be included. The Aztecs were reportedly cut from consideration more than a month ago, and they were always a long shot. But there’s no reason not to shoot your shot.
SDSU was formally working on Big 12 administrators from at least late July, with a pitch that centered on their California geography and football and basketball success. SDSU’s pitch didn’t work, but the argument it put forward had some legitimate points.
SB Nation obtained SDSU’s materials via a public records request filed months ago. The meat of the argument comes in a four-page packet, where the university touts the San Diego media market and population, the TV benefits of adding a Pacific program, and the winning the Aztecs have done while playing in the Group of 5.
A bulleted excerpt:
The university appears to have put together its pitch during the summer. It gave notice of interest to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby on July 29 and became one of 17 schools to at least have a formal discussion with the league about joining up.
San Diego State made its hometown a huge part of its sales job. The San Diego market has more than a million TV homes, Nielsen estimated last January, and there’s something to be said for the Aztecs’ point that it might be nice for the Big 12 to have some games on during Saturday’s late shift. Four of the Power 5 conferences now cede the wee hours of Sunday morning almost entirely to the Pac-12.
The SDSU pitch also focused a good deal on how well its football team’s done. And the Aztecs have done well, going 47-24 in their first five-and-a-half years under head coach Rocky Long. They play in the Mountain West, though, and their win against Cal earlier this year was their first against a power-conference team since 2011. The brochure mentions star running Donnel Pumphrey, who’s having a whale of a year.
One downside for the Big 12 in ever adding a West Coast team would be the travel involved. SDSU says every Big 12 school except West Virginia could reach San Diego within three hours by charter flight, and it offers up this graphic to explain itself:
The school says you can fly nonstop from San Diego to "Big 12 cities" like Austin, Dallas, Houston, and Kansas City.
There’s also some academic pitching, which includes touting of U.S. News & World Report rankings, freshman class GPA numbers, and the like. The school says it got more than 83,000 applications for this fall’s freshman class. (Its enrollment is well over 30,000.)
San Diego State’s pitch is interesting mainly for how it fits into a puzzle.
We’ve seen a lot of these in the last year, and Big 12 aspirants have tried to sell the league on varying angles. Most everyone mentions academics, fan support, winning records, and all the basics. But Big 12 pitches are fun because they’re unique.
UCF took shots at Connecticut and Cincinnati and claimed video game supremacy. Colorado State sent a 12-page brochure that was heavy on university research figures and alumni comparisons to other candidates. New Mexico got pretty obscure in explaining why it’d be a good add. Cincinnati talked up all the money it’s poured into football and all the recruiting benefits an Ohio presence might bring the Big 12.
SDSU’s pitch sprinkled in a in a bit of everything, and its location in California was a unique offering other Big 12 hopefuls couldn’t make. It got a bit obscure in trying to explain the dual successes of its football and men’s basketball programs, saying things like, "SDSU is one of three schools to play in six straight football bowl games and play in a NCAA-sponsored men’s basketball event (NCAA or NIT) each of the last 11 seasons." (One of the others was BYU, a much more serious Big 12 candidate.)
The Aztecs won’t make the Big 12. But if they ever get a shot to level up from the Mountain West, this is a preview of how they’ll go about it.
You can browse the entire SDSU package below, if you’re interested: