For the Big 12 to add a new member, eight of 10 schools need to approve it. The league has stated it’s considering expansion by either two or four teams, but it’s difficult to say how the league will vote. It may well vote not to expand at all.
The conference says it wants strong athletics (read: football and revenue), good academics, lots of fans, a big media market and a strong general reputation.
With that in mind, we asked 10 editors from SB Nation Big 12 blogs to play a role as members of their schools' administrations and vote on their expansion preferences.
The parliamentary procedure isn’t nearly identical to a Big 12 board meeting, and a survey filled out remotely isn’t the same as some of the backroom maneuvering that can take place in real life. But we’ve aimed to capture the views of some folks who have dogs in this hunt, and now we can share them.
Nobody quite got the votes in our first (and only) round of voting, but Cincinnati is the closest.
|Team Site||Expansion preference||Votes to invite|
|Our Daily Bears (Baylor)||Stay at 10||BYU, Cincinnati|
|Wide Right & Natty Lite (Iowa State)||Stay at 10, or go to 12||Arizona, Arizona State|
|Rock Chalk Talk (Kansas)||Stay at 10||Connecticut, Memphis|
|Bring on the Cats (Kansas State)||14 teams||BYU, Cincinnati|
|Crimson and Cream Machine (Oklahoma)||14 teams||Houston, Cincinnati|
|Cowboys Ride for Free (Oklahoma State)||12 teams||East Carolina, Memphis|
|Frogs O' War (TCU)||12 teams||Connecticut, Cincinnati|
|Burnt Orange Nation (Texas)||14 teams||Houston, Cincinnati|
|Viva The Matadors (Texas Tech)||Stay at 10||BYU, Cincinnati|
|The Smoking Musket (West Virginia)||14 teams||BYU, Cincinnati|
We first held this vote a few weeks ago, and BYU got enough votes (nine) to join the conference. But after some very public outcry about anti-gay language in BYU's student honor code, the Cougars lost five schools of the nine that had initially supported them. A voting bloc that big, obviously, precludes the Cougars from entry.
Cincinnati only gets seven votes in our final survey, which isn't enough either. Our survey also isn't real life. But it seems awfully likely that, in real life, seven supportive schools could ultimately become eight, and one more school would eventually join the league with Cincinnati if it could garner that much support.
The Bearcats look like they're in good Big 12 shape in the real world, and our survey likes them a good bit, too. (Next up in our vote count: BYU with four, and Connecticut, Memphis and Houston each with two.)
Texas and Texas Tech have both thrown support behind "consideration" of Houston, and there's been other reporting that suggests Texas might really push for the Cougars. But the support among our bloggers just wasn't high. Our Iowa State blog favors inviting the two Arizona schools, which already have a Power 5 home and quite likely aren't joining this party.
It doesn't seem much like four-team expansion will happen, but we had the blogs vote on that, too:
|Team site||Votes to invite|
|Our Daily Bears (Baylor)||BYU, Cincinnati, UConn, USF|
|Wide Right & Natty Lite (Iowa State)||Arizona, Arizona State, Memphis, Cincinnati|
|Rock Chalk Talk (Kansas)||Connecticut, Memphis, Cincinnati, North Dakota (?)|
|Bring on the Cats (Kansas State)||BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis|
|Crimson and Cream Machine(Oklahoma)||Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF|
|Cowboys Ride for Free (Oklahoma State)|
|Frogs O' War (TCU)||Connecticut, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Memphis|
|Burnt Orange Nation (Texas)||Houston, Cincinnati, UCF, Colorado State|
|Viva The Matadors (Texas Tech)||BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, UConn|
|The Smoking Musket (West Virginia)||BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis|
In our exercise here, three schools stated preferences to stay at 10 teams, and in theory, any three teams that refused to expand would be able to stop this from happening.
That seems unlikely, though, as whatever horse trading it took to get every school in the conference open to expansion had to have happened before league commissioner Bob Bowlsby went public about the conference's intentions earlier in the summer.
What we've done here isn't about matching the Big 12's political machinations. It's about getting some sense of how fans feel. And the fans we've surveyed aren't totally sold on expansion, but they like Cincinnati more than anyone else.