A few days ago, a report surfaced with a source closely affiliated with Texas claiming that Big 12 expansion wasn't terribly likely, handicapping the event at "15 percent." It would appear that not everybody associated with the Texas athletic department got that memo, and now one loud voice is clamoring for a different approach.
Billionaire Texas booster Red McCombs went on ESPN Radio to share his thoughts on Big 12 expansion. Not only does McCombs favor expansion, but he thinks the conference should have added new teams, specifically Houston, years ago. From the article:
McCombs told ESPN radio in San Antonio: "I think we need to add two teams to the Big 12 and should have done it two years ago. The first one should be the University of Houston then it would be your choice of several others."
McCombs isn't the only rich person in Texas openly stumping for the Houston Cougars. Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire chairman of the Houston board of regents, claims that Texas is afraid of Houston.
Scared might not exactly be the right word, but Fertitta might not be totally off base. Based on numerous national reports, there does not appear to be an appetite to add another Texas-based program to the Big 12. Sure, there are financial concerns for this, as adding Houston would do little to further a hypothetical Big 12 network, but there's also the sense that the other programs do not want another well coached, well-heeled team in Texas to recruit against.
Does McComb's opinion matter? Probably not as much as you might think. You may remember McComb when he railed against Texas' decision to hire Charlie Strong, and if his money and muscle wasn't enough to influence a coaching decision, his ability to influence conference expansion seems a bit more remote. Texas does things a little differently now than they did in the Mack Brown era, after all.
"Besides being upset about Charlie Strong rising past the coordinator position, McCombs was also a vocal advocate for Texas to pursue commentator Jon Gruden, a suggestion that was so ludicrous as to be laughable," says Wescott Eberts, the executive editor of Burnt Orange Nation. "Whatever influence he once wielded in the athletic department seems significantly diminished, so he's just another old, rich dude with something of a platform out there running his mouth."
If nothing else, this shows that not everybody in the Big 12 universe, or even the Texas universe, is on the same page yet. If another booster, or regent, or figure on the periphery of these discussions goes public before the next round of Big 12 meetings at the end of the month, I won't be surprised.