After a few weeks of relative silence on the Big 12 expansion front, along with multiple reports that candidate programs have signed non-disclosure agreements, one could be forgiven for thinking that maybe the rest of this process would take place without leaks or public pronouncements.
But that would apparently be wrong.
A report from TMGcollegesports.com, a site manned by three former newspaper veterans, including former Boston Globe columnist Mark Blaudschun, says that the Big 12 has sent invitations to multiple programs, including BYU, to continue in the expansion process.
The full article is behind a paywall, but via the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
“Blaudschun tempers the report with ‘word has it’ that invitations have been sent to Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UConn, South Florida and Central Florida from the American Athletic Conference, along with football independent BYU and two other AAC schools.”
Per Billy Embody, who covers SMU for Scout, the Mustangs are also moving on in this process. If Blaudschun is correct, that leaves just one other AAC program. My best guess is that the other program is Tulane.
I was initially a little skeptical of the report, thinking that the Big 12 wouldn’t be so explicit about this process, but there may be some truth to it. This morning, East Carolina sent out a press release indicating that they have been informed they are no longer being considered as a Big 12 candidate.
East Carolina issues statement. Says no longer candidate for Big 12 expansion. pic.twitter.com/i9TvPRw4kE— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) August 31, 2016
Conspicuous in its absence from Blaudschun’s report is the inclusion of any school from the Mountain West conference, including Boise State and Colorado State. That seems a little surprising, since at first glance, both programs appear to have a stronger case on many merits than say, SMU, but neither were projected as favorites. If BYU fans were hoping for another western program to perhaps temper geographic concerns, that doesn’t appear to be on the table.
Don’t be surprised if other programs in the mix that were considered major longshots make similar statements to ECU’s, indicating they are no longer up for consideration.
It’s probably too early in this process to read anything else into BYU, or any other program’s, chances, since if there is one thing we’ve learned about this process, it’s that things can change with the Big 12 in an instant.
If nothing else, it would certainly appear that any hopes that the Big 12 could do the smart thing, and find a way to put this storyline to bed before the start of football season, were in vain. This looks like it will go on into October, when the next Big 12 Board of Director’s Meeting is scheduled.