The Big 12 is going to add roughly two teams, with football looming as one huge factor among several. "Football" means overall football quality, including history, recruiting, revenue, potential, reputations, and so forth.
On some level, the 2016 season could factor into that part of the decision. It might sway confidence levels or alter the conference's messaging. But it probably will not decide the process.
Fine. Boring stuff out of the way.
Now let's pretend the conference is just gonna add the two teams that are the best at the exact moment it decides to act. If the Big 12 looks up right now and says "'SPANSION TIME! MAMA HUNGRY," and then bases its decision on the first thing it Googles about these teams' 2016 seasons, which two teams will it add?
According to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, here's the list of teams that actually made it to the season as candidates:
Memphis did not make latest Big 12 expansion cut sources told @ESPN. The 11 that did: AF BYU UCF Cincinnati UConn CSU UH Rice USF SMU Tulane— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) September 2, 2016
So RACK 'EM UP.
The sadness zone
11. Rice, 0-2 (Previous: 10)
No shame in losing at WKU, despite a big margin, and a blowout loss to Army isn't quite as embarrassing as it would've been in previous years. But still.
10. Colorado State, 1-1 (Previous: 11)
Gave up Colorado's biggest margin of victory against an FBS team since 2007 (CU seems to have finally improved a bit, though).
9. UConn, 1-1
A loss to Maine, a middling FCS team, would've damned the Huskies to the last spot in these rankings indefinitely. In Week 2, the Huskies were kind enough to give Navy a win.
8. Tulane, 1-1
Losing at Wake Forest might not be all that shameful this year, for a mid-major.
7. UCF, 1-1 (Previous: 4)
All mid-majors should thump South Carolina State and get thumped in Ann Arbor. Inconclusive.
6. SMU, 1-1 (Previous: 3)
Similar story to UCF. Beating North Texas and losing to Baylor tells us very little.
5. Air Force, 2-0 (Previous: 7)
Giving up 35 total points to Abilene Christian and Georgia State doesn't wow anybody, but comfortable wins.
4. USF, 2-0 (Previous: 5)
NIU's looking down this year, but dominating a defending division champion is still impressive.
3. BYU, 1-1 (Previous: 2)
Inches from being either 0-2 or 2-0 against Pac-12 teams. I can't give the Cougars too much credit for almost beating Utah, since that would require dinging them for almost losing to Arizona.
The happiness zone
2. Cincinnati, 2-0 (Previous: 6)
A blowout win at Purdue is a Power 5 victory in only the strictest terms. However, since the Power 5 awards itself all sorts of special statuses, I have no choice but to give this W undeserved credit and move the Bearcats up.