The Big 12 is deep in deliberations over whether to expand beyond its current 10 members, and it appears the conference is casting a remarkably wide net.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Friday that the league will discuss expansion with 17 (seventeen!) prospective new members who have signaled their interest in joining. McMurphy’s got sources saying it’s "becoming less and less likely" that the Big 12 expands by four, leaving two-team expansion as the likeliest addition size. That could mean, uh, 15 disappointed universities.
The list of interested schools, obviously, is long. McMurphy ticks off a few:
- Cincinnati, which has the coveted backing of Oklahoma president and Big 12 power player David Boren
- Houston, which is ready to do "whatever it takes" ahead of Big 12 evaluations
- BYU, which has a great case in many respects but a potentially serious problem in the form of an honor code that forbids "homosexual behavior"
- USF, which has quietly been about this for a while
- UCF, whose pitch takes shots at peer schools and claims video game supremacy
- UConn, which is far away but at least has some really passionate fans about this (and also an athletic department with big revenue figures)
- Memphis, with the approval of Justin Timberlake and FedEx
- Colorado State, which put together a pitch brochure that’s honestly pretty impressive
- Temple, which is now a really solid program and is very open to the Big 12
- East Carolina, which isn’t scared to literally @ the Big 12 to press its case
- SMU, which is winking and nodding at the Big 12 with new facility expenditures
- New Mexico, which sent an impassioned letter to league commissioner Bob Bowlsby
- Tulane, which has a really hard sell to make here
- Boise State, which hasn’t made much noise about this at all in the past but at least has won a bunch of football games outside the power leagues
- Northern Illinois, which has told us in response to multiple records requests that it hasn't previously had any Big 12 pitch materials
- San Diego State, which has upgrades in the works
- And, as revealed by McMurphy on Twitter, Arkansas State
This saga could come down to how well Texas, Oklahoma and the league’s TV partners can work together, and horse trading between those parties would likely only involve a few schools. But the conference, clearly, wants to keep a bunch of balls in the air.