I have been carefully following the Big12 expansion buzz which of course has rapidly intensified over the last 24 hours.
Chatter started to heat up following the CCG games on Saturday, and went to a higher level following TCU and Baylor both being excluded from the playoffs.
1. I don't think the Big12 WANTS to expand. Basically, the view of the Big12 seems to be they are happy with 10 teams as they only have to split their current TV contract 10 ways. They seemed to think that the actual ticket revenues of a CCG would not amount to enough to warrant expansion, nor would the amount of money a new school would bring to the table be enough to "cover" its inclusion (i.e. if each school is currently getting $25 million a year in TV money, a new addition would have to bring in $25 million so no one would have to take a cut until the next TV deal comes through). The Big12 seemed to think the current format would work for them and no expansion would be considered at least until the next TV deal comes up.
In UC terms: The Big 12 didn't think UC would bring enough to the table in terms of year 1 TV money. Otherwise, UC would already be in. No currently available team could do this. I would think BYU would be the most likely due to the LDS following but since BYU wants in the Big12 and currently isn't I have to imagine this is not the case.
2. BUT that doesn't mean they WONT expand. The exclusion from the playoffs has illustrated that the lack of a CCG puts them at a competitive disadvantage to the other P5 members. People talk about an 8-team playoff vs the current 4 team format - I think the CCG's make it in essence a 10-team format. The CCG's appear to be round 1.
3. The Big12 would like to get a waiver to hold a CCG with 10 teams. They seem to have the backing of the ACC - the ACC wants to do away with the division winner vs. division winner format of the CCG's as has been the traditional format, and just have the top teams in the conference play in the championship. The two conferences seem to have each other's backs on their proposals. It is unclear how this may play out with the SEC/Big10/PAC12, if such a measure would have support. On one hand it is always best to put your two best teams forward, on another hand you don't want to see a #8 beat a #2 and knock your conference out of the playoffs. Better to see a #2 whip up on the #25 coastal division champ.......
I could see more support for the ACC's wishes than the Big12's. The waiver for the 10-team conference would do nothing for any of the other conferences and would remove an advantage they all have over the Big12. Interesting to see how this plays out.
4. If the Big12 gets their waiver perhaps they table expansion. Still given the round-robin scheduling format in the Big12, I'm not sure how much a CCG actually helps them since the game is guaranteed to be a rematch of a previously played game that season. Probably it helps in some scenarios more than in others, but at least you would have a true champion.
5. I think if they cannot get a CCG waiver, the Big12 will look at immediate expansion to add 2 teams. Given the football (and baketball) tradition, the geography, the TV markets, facility upgrades, and the recruiting opportunity I think UC is at the top of the list. Others on the list: BYU (fan base a strong plus, geography a minus), UCF (recruiting a plus, do you think they could rename it to make it a non-directional school???), Memphis (I admit I don't know that much about them, but geography makes sense - a Nashville radio jock seems to have elevated their status, also the FedEx founder and T Boone Pickens seem to support this institution), I think ECU and Tulane have some positives but not enough to make the top 4. I think Boise State is a longshot - great football program of course, but doesn't offer TV market and travel would be a nightmare for non-revenue sports). Also no other Texas school really makes sense as UH, SMU, Rice would not improve recruiting/TV markets.
***Will be interesting to see how this plays out. I look at UC's transition from a G5 to a P5 as a process. I'm not sure we will get in this time, but I think when all is said and done UC will end up in the Big12. If they get their waiver I think this is put on hold for at least another year. Face it, if OSU and FSU lose in their CCG's yesterday we are not even having this conversation today.
BUT.....UC is continuing to do what it can to move toward eventual Big12/P5 realignment. We got burned at the ACC/Louisville expansion by our facilities. Since then a Nippert renovation is complete and a 'Shoe renovation is drawn up. One day, hopefully soon, the Big12 will either find that it will not get schools into the playoffs without expansion, or the TV deal will be up, and this will force expansion more along a geographic track. The other thing would be a challenge on the Grant of rights that the Big12 (like many conferences) have. With only 10 members, the Big12 would be the most susceptible to cannibalization if the GOR is found not to hold. There is strength in numbers.