We thought all of this conference realignment talk was dead, at least in the short term. After all, the conference was set to get a waiver on the NCAA's policy that requires 12 teams and two divisions in order to hold a championship game, removing any immediate incentive to expand again, regardless of what Oklahoma said in public, or what West Virginia said in private. It was assumed that the Big 12's proposal, along with the ACC, would pass easily in early January, and that would be that.
But suddenly, that isn't assured anymore. And the Big Ten is the reason why. Here's Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, to ESPN:
"We're trying to work our way through it, but I'm less certain of the outcome than I was before," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN.com on Sunday, just hours after Oklahoma slid into the College Football Playoff at No. 4. "We don't think we ought to be forced into adding schools in order to have a championship game, but it could end up that way."
The Big 10 isn't specifically trying to force the Big 12 to expand (Delany actually explicitly says that later in the ESPN article), but he's concerned about the wildly different scheduling scenarios for the Power Five conferences. Some play eight conference games, some play nine, some play FCS teams, and the Big 12 doesn't have that conference championship game. Delany seems to think additional clarity is needed.
The ACC is with the Big 12, and it isn't known if anybody else agrees with Delany, but what looked like a slam dunk vote now appears less sure. That vote will take place on January 13-16.
BYU, of course, badly wants an invite to the Big 12, and would likely be one of the teams potentially considered, along with Cincinnati, Memphis, USF and UCF. We're a ways from any of that actually coming to fruition, but Bowlsby is admitting that the league is now looking at expansion again, and that's the first step towards anything that might include BYU.