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Houston would be a bad fit for the Big 12, says former Cougars coach

Dana Dimel, now at Kansas State, isn't high on his former team getting into the Big 12.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Former Houston head coach Dana Dimel didn't sugarcoat things when he said that he thought adding the Cougars to the Big 12 would be a bad move. Dimel, now the co-offensive coordinator at Kansas State, was the head coach at Houston for three years from 2000-2002. He didn't waste time getting to his point.

"I think it would be really bad for everybody."

Dimel's objection to Houston in the Big 12 is related mostly to recruiting. "You can recruit Houston. If they get into the Big 12 they will be tough to beat in recruiting, because of the proximity."

Houston has exploded as a program under head coach Tom Herman, going 12-1 in 2015, his first year as a head coach. But perhaps more to Dimel's point, Herman has jump-started Houston's recruiting, moving them from the No. 92 class in 2015 to No. 35 in 2016, according to the 247 Composite Index. That 2016 class included five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver, a local Houston product that picked the Cougars over teams like Alabama, Texas, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, as well as a whole host of others.

The Cougars currently have the No. 35 class in the 2017 247 Composite Index rankings, but a move to the Big 12 would almost certainly cause that number to jump and give teams in the Big 12 and beyond another power conference competitor to worry about on the cutthroat Texas recruiting trail.

Support for Houston's inclusion in the Big 12 is coming from other schools within the state. Texas Tech has stated their support for Houston, but the big name backing the Cougars is Texas, which has opposed conference expansion until their about-face with Houston this summer. It was rumored that Texas' support came in exchange for Houston dropping their opposition to Texas' expansion into the Houston area, but Texas officials have denied that any such deal was struck, according to the Houston Chronicle. The political heavyweights in the state also back Houston's Big 12 bid, namely Governor Greg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

But to Dimel's point, no Big 12 school outside the state of Texas has given any measure of public support for Houston. Oklahoma has been a proponent of Big 12 expansion for some time, and president David Boren has given his support to Cincinnati. West Virginia president Gordon Gee, who is on the Big 12 expansion subcommittee with Boren, has also been in favor of adding schools for some time now and said in an interview with SB Nation last year that another conference member in proximity to West Virginia would be a welcome addition.

SB Nation: Speaking of balance, West Virginia is a little unique in how geographically isolated they are compared to many of their conference peers. Are you aware of anyone expressing concerns over this, in how it relates to travel or anything else?

Dr. Gee: I think that obviously, after having been in the Big Ten and the SEC, where we were pretty compact, although during my time in the Big Ten we did add Nebraska, and then later Maryland and Rutgers. I view WVU as being very fortunate to be in the Big 12 because we defend the eastern border, we're in the Eastern Time Zone, and we have a great following from around this part of the world. WVU has always had an enormous following.

I've never heard any real concern expressed. I think initially, there was probably some concerns expressed that we had abandoned some of our traditional rivals, like the University of Pittsburgh, but obviously, we're looking to reestablish some of those traditional relationships, as these things have straightened out. Would I like to have maybe another member of our conference in this part of the world? Probably so, but those are discussions that are going to take place, and certainly that is part of the consideration.

SB Nation: In those hypothetical conversations, the desire for a closer school is something you've mentioned to other university presidents?

Dr. Gee: Absolutely, and it has been mentioned to me.

Feel free to check out our Big 12 expansion rumor tracker for the latest realignment machinations.