Given the unpredictable history of the Big 12 and its stilted relationship with expansion, expect any outcome Monday afternoon after the league’s school presidents meet. A presser with commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Oklahoma president David Boren is scheduled to stream live at Big12Sports.com at 6:30 p.m. ET.
SB Nation can confirm that multiple schools long considered to be expansion candidates have prepared messaging and marketing campaigns for four distinct scenarios. While there’s no clear leader for what will happen, here are the four outcomes the schools who could join the league are prepping for.
1. Expansion is happening, and favorites are in. Specifically, this would mean that the Big 12 is expanding by either two or four schools, with some potentially being football-only members.
Of the many remaining candidates, Cincinnati and Houston are considered front-runners.
Some Big 12 members have expressed public concerns about adding another Texas school.
2. The Big 12 doesn’t announce expansion but doesn’t rule it out, and everyone is left guessing. The league is adherent to no timetable in the foreseeable future, meaning it’s highly possible that expansion could be discussed at the meetings but neither struck down entirely nor approved immediately.
"Right now, this feels the likeliest scenario, especially if presidents don’t have a consensus [the league needs eight out of 10 votes to approve a new member] on expansion candidates," a source said.
In July, the league all but announced expansion, but technically only announced that it was going to evaluate candidates.
3. Big 12 expansion is not happening, and the league will rework its TV deals. As recently as this week, sources connected to multiple candidate schools expected this to be the likeliest scenario. One athletic director speculated that any involvement by Big 12 partners ESPN and Fox in league talks would be a negative.
"The simple math is, they’re not interested in paying considerably more for inventory they already have," he said. (ESPN currently holds TV deals with the AAC, Mountain West, and BYU, meaning it already owns broadcast rights to games by all the candidates.)
4. Expansion is happening, but the Big 12 picks schools we weren’t expecting. Maybe the league is expanding by two but invites UCF and USF or UConn and Colorado State.
Based on multiple sources, SB Nation can confirm at least six schools presented expansion candidacy in person with the league, although the total number is thought to be higher.