The process of Big 12 expansion appears to be getting closer and closer to reaching a resolution, per a new report from ESPN’s Brett McMurphy.
According to the report, the Big 12 will conduct video conferences with a whopping 17 schools. Along with BYU, this list includes many familiar names to those that have been following expansion closely, like Cincinnati, Houston and UConn, and also a few names that might be more unexpected, like Temple, SMU, and New Mexico. Boise State, another football power that hasn’t picked up much expansion buzz during this cycle, will also reportedly give a presentation.
Also noteworthy in the report, while it one time appeared more likely that the Big 12 would expand to 14 teams in order to maximize their short-term financial payout from their TV partners, that scenario appears less likely now.
Per the report:
Sources also said it's "becoming less and less likely" the league will expand to 14 teams. The most likely scenario is the Big 12 stays at 10 teams or only adds two schools for a 12-team league with two six-team divisions, sources said.
Yes, that’s right. Even after all of this, it’s still possible that the Big 12 decides not to expand at all.
A movement away from expanding to 14 could mean a few different things. It might be a signal that Big 12 administrators are not confident there are four teams, even with an influx of cash, that would be worth it to the conference. It may also be a signal that after discussing things with Fox and ESPN, that adding four teams could torpedo relationships so much that it would damage the conference during their next negotiation talks.
It could also be a sign of just plain ol’ political squabbling. If they can’t agree on two, agreeing on four might just be too tall an order.
A 12 team expansion is not as good for BYU as a 14 team expansion would be. It’s also possible that a massive stream of video conferences is not as positive a development as say, a smaller number of site visits.
It’s still possible BYU ends up getting a Big 12 invite. After all, they still boast the biggest fanbase, some of the best facilities, the most consistent, high-level football, and the best football history. Plus, it’s not like BYU’s honor code or institutional differences were big secrets before recent news stories.
But this story probably has even more twists and turns before it’s finished. And for those in favor of a robust Big 12 expansion, this report doesn’t feel like good news.