At Last, Big 12 Expansion

Posted: July 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

The most conservative of the Rigged Five (no more Power Fiver.  College football is a perfectly rigged system that would make William “Boss” Tweed blush) realizes they are woefully behind in the money race.  Why, of the Five, they are the last to expand is testament to their cautious nature that leads to resistance.  Now the Big 12 realizes change is not necessarily bad.  Especially after ESPN air drops bags of money for ACC broadcasting rights.

The process of their expansion is reflective of the pretentiousness of the Rigged Five.  The Big 12 will entertain, consider, review, appraise and decide who the lucky two or four schools will be offered invitations to join.  The Big 12 will not soil their collective hands by, God forbid, pursuing like a meth addicted prostitute schools that might be a good match.  This method of expansion again points to the conservative nature of the Big 12.  Do note that the ACC, SEC, Big 10 and PAC 12 had no hesitation engaging in salesmanship and promotion to successfully entice schools to join their respective conference.  And the Big 12 wonders why it finishes fifth in a five horse race?

The obvious question is expanding by two schools or four?  I’m predicting two.  Four seems  revolutionary for the Big 12.  Too much, too soon.  They sip their tea, they do not gulp. Thank you very much.

I’m not about to review all schools mentioned as candidates (I don’t have that kind of time.  You should be thankful), but I will take a look at schools that make above average expansion candidates.

Houston, Cincinnati, Central Florida and South Florida offer the best fit.  I’m doubtful about BYU and any MWC schools receiving invitations to join which I will address later.

Houston and Cincinnati offer geographic sense (not that geography matters to most expansion) that reflects the careful approach of the Big 12.  Houston secures the sizable population of southeast Texas while providing a relative short travel distance for Baylor, TCU and Texas.  Economically, a nice fit.  The Cougars also offer a football program that has won 13 games twice in recent years (2015 and 2011) along with a serviceable stadium capacity of 40,000.  Plus, nothing beats Texas based football.

Cincinnati, depending upon how the Big 12 partners the schools once expansion is complete, offers a possible travel buddy for far flung West Virginia.  As does Houston, they offer a stadium with 40,000 seats and plenty of local support.  The Cincinnati media market (#36 per Nielsen data, April, 2016) pales in comparison to Houston’s (#10), but the Big 12 would gently stretch their eastern reach by including the Bearcats and let’s toss in the obligatory Ohio recruiting benefit as well.

If, a big if, the Big 12 truly wants an east coast presence, then prepare for South Florida (#11 media market) and Central Florida (regardless of their horrid 0-12 record in 2015.  #19 media market) to receive invites.  Most mavens/experts overlook the immediate impact of the Big 12 entrenching themselves in the fourth most populous state in the nation.  The benefit is instant.  However, given the cautious past of the Big 12, I do not anticipate the 12 expanding to 14.

And now, the BYU question.  Over the last half-dozen years, BYU has inquired about Big 12 membership only to be denied, rejected and sent away.  Why would the Big 12 have a sudden change of heart now?  Sure, BYU brings a rabid fan base and half the state of Utah, but that is akin to bragging about bringing half a sandwich to a picnic.  If the Big 12 does look west, the media markets of reportedly considered schools (BYU, Boise and Colorado State) are small at best, trivial at worst.  Do not claim that BYU brings the Salt Lake City market for that belongs primarily to the Utes of Utah.  BYU brings Provo and surrounding small towns.  The school has always overestimated (hallucinated?) its perceived national appeal.  Ask the Cougars about the substantial aches and pains of their ill-planned journey into independent football status.  Not exactly what they thought.

To those wondering about the academic status of considered expansion schools, perceived or real, stop wondering.  Big 12 expansion is all about football revenue.  Certainly, once the winners are announced, the Big 12 will be quick to emphasize various academic accomplishments of the new members to the media, but in the end, football considerations rule the day and decision.

Expansion is messy and sometimes creates unintended consequences.  Assuming a smooth inclusion of two (or four) schools may be a tad optimistic.  Big 12 football is dominated by the presence of the University of Texas.  Yeah, those guys.  The school with a television channel devoted to all things Longhorn.  The school with an alumni base that can raise millions overnight.  The school with the bookstore that sells six-figures worth of UT gear every home game weekend.  In the end, who is to say that Texas finds agreeable the expansion invitees?  Maybe.  Which implies maybe not.  Would Texas make a call to the Big 10?  The PAC 12?  If Texas leaves the Big 12 does that action serve as removing the foundation of the Big 12?  Stay tuned.



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