Big 12 expansion heated up Thursday when the Pac 12 made an official statement that they will not pursue expansion. Many Big 12 members were hoping the Pac 12 could be a lifeline, but they likely will need to venture ahead together and try to fortify the remaining eight members with other potential candidates.
- Max Olson and Andy Staples of The Athletic reported Friday morning that “The Big 12 is seriously discussing BYU” and that the TV numbers are the main reason why. Below are excerpts from their report.
“BYU could be a potential solution.
Between 2015 and ‘19, the median audience Big 12 teams (minus games involving Texas and Oklahoma) drew for 36 games broadcast on ABC, Fox or ESPN was 1.786 million viewers. BYU’s numbers were comparable; the Cougars’ median audience in 16 games broadcast on those channels was 1.64 million. For 104 games broadcast on ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2, the remaining Big 12 schools drew a median audience of 482,000. BYU* drew a median audience of 682,000 from 20 broadcasts on those networks.
More impressive? BYU drew better numbers on those traditionally less-watched channels despite 15 of those broadcasts kicking off at 10 p.m. ET or later. None of the broadcasts involving Big 12 teams kicked off later than 8:30 p.m. ET. In other words, adding BYU would allow the Big 12 to open a new TV window, a possibility that provides greater value in a media rights negotiation.”
Additionally, The Athletic reports that BYU was the one school in the last expansion talks that added tv value.
“Those numbers suggest a version of the Big 12 that included BYU would bring in more money for every school in the league than one that didn’t. “The last time we went through an exercise, that’s the one school the consultants were saying added value to our current TV contracts,” one Big 12 AD told The Athletic. Plus, as a football independent, BYU doesn’t have to worry about giving notice or paying a massive exit fee the way a current American Athletic Conference or Mountain West member would.”
Olson and Staples floated a possible football-only membership to side step the Sunday play concerns, but also acknowledged BYU’s overall successful athletic department.
With Texas and Oklahoma now leaving, BYU may have less opposition to joining the conference.
“One Big 12 source argued BYU’s candidacy could be strengthened this time simply by the departure of Oklahoma and Texas. ‘The people who didn’t want BYU before,” the source said, “are leaving the conference.’”
You can read the whole report from The Athletic to get the entire picture.
- Another report from The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that Big 12 presidents are meeting this morning (Friday) to discuss expansion. Excerpts below.
The Texas Tech athletics director is part of a four-person expansion subcommittee tasked with leading the effort, which starts immediately.
“Right now, our complete focus is to make the Big 12 as strong as it can possibly be,” Hocutt said, “and I expect that Texas Tech will play a leadership role in that. We’re going to continue to be part of the power-five structure in college athletics.”
Hocutt said Baylor AD Mack Rhoades, Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod and Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen are the others on the subcommittee. The Big 12 in the past few days has enlisted Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia AD and XFL commissioner, as a consultant to aide in working through realignment.
Describing the group as already “active,” Hocutt said they will meet with the Big 12 presidents early Friday and will have in-person meetings next week involving Big 12 athletics directors and media and television consultants.
“We’re continually talking to commissioner (Bob) Bowlsby as well as Oliver Luck,” Hocutt said, “and feel very fortunate to have Oliver engaged in our conversations in helping us navigate the waters as well.”
Overall, Big 12 expansion talk is very active and Tom Holmoe has undoubtedly been on the line with Big 12 ADs and executives. The Big 12 is far from a stable product and their future P5 status is in question, but if BYU can increases its revenue and join a conference that could potentially keep its Power 5 status, then BYU would probably need to accept.
News seems to move daily now at this pace, so BYU’s conference future could have more clarity when BYU kicks off the 2021 season in 8 days versus Arizona.
Below are some other links from various outlets discussion expansion.