I have been of the opinion since this farce of a Big XII expansion process began that the only impossible outcome is status quo. That if you’re going to force so many respected institutions of higher education to be paraded around like baccalaureate-granters-of-the-evening, you damn well better pick a couple to go to the back room with you.
The process designed by the Big XII was humiliating for every institution involved. It put the onus on “candidate” university presidents and athletic directors to make it publicly appear they were doing something to advance their cause. It’s why some schools did shameful things like this; because their fans and boards of directors asked “what are we doing to join the Big XII?” And people that had absolutely no chance of membership were forced to dance was beyond gauche.
But it appears I was wrong, and the hubris and myopia of The Conference That Couldn’t Shoot Straight (Guns Up, Texas Tech!) blew past even my worst perceptions. Oklahoma President David Boren felt psychologically disadvantaged, so he got his fellow presidents to agree to look at expansion on what appeared to be a whim. And now even he’s backpedaling.
But instead of targeting viable candidates directly and quietly, they threw a free-for-all in which ARKANSAS STATE COME ON DOWN!! Sincerest apologies to the Red Wolves, but I don’t think you and the Jonesboro media market ever fit the model of a peer institution. But the Big XII made you dance anyway, and that’s preposterous and patronizing to you and your institution.
And it appears to be moot anyway, as ESPN and Fox have no desire to write the Big XII contractually-mandated bigger checks if they expand, so they’ll pay greenmail instead.
So we are where we are, and at 6:30 p.m. EST today we’ll (hopefully) begin to get some closure on this process. At least until the next time time, or until 2025 when the grant-of-rights all of you signed in a blood oath to each other expires.
BTW: if you add USF, I take back everything I said above. It would be an HONOR to be a part of such a fine league of proud institutions of higher learning that aspire to change the world and compete for championships!
So what could happen today? Let’s answer the basics:
Who could be added?
We’re down to 11 schools that passed the last rose ceremony: Air Force, BYU, C.Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UConn, Houston, Rice, SMU, Temple, Tulane, and USF.
Public speculation is the favorite would be Cincinnati, with C.Florida and USF looking positive as a natural pairing if the league goes to 14 teams.
Houston makes sense except both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have no desire to add another Texas school to thin their recruiting pool even further, much less their fellow state schools.
Eight league members out of ten must agree on a school to add them.
How many schools would they add?
It appears today likely zero because greenmail, but if they do expand it’ll be by an even number: likely two, possibly four. Four is USF’s best chance.
Is football only an option?
You bet. This could help with Olympic-sports travel and ease of transition. This makes the most sense for adding BYU.
If they asked USF & UCF to take just football-only membership, they’d likely jump at the chance, then call the A-Sun or someone else and look for a home ASAP if The American booted them.
BYU: I thought they had anti-gay policies that are hurting their chances?
Correct. The Honor Code disallows behaviors for gay students that are permitted for straight ones. It’s probably going to keep BYU from membership today, because many LGBT groups as well as some Big XII student governments openly oppose their membership.
Otherwise they’re a logical choice because of their massive following, especially if the “no play on Sundays” rule doesn’t matter because of joining as a football only member.
The Big XII doesn’t have men’s soccer. What happens to USF’s team?
Sacramento State is a member of the American Conference for rowing. Seriously. These things tend to work themselves out.
Are USF and UCF joined at the hip?
Probably. Though it’s possible you would take one without the other, for travel partner purposes as well as the penetration of any potential tv network in the I-4 Corridor, they are likely a pair.
If Cincinnati (seemingly the leader in the clubhouse for expansion) needed just one school to join them, it’s possible they take either the Bulls or the Knights. Who they’d choose... well that depends on who you ask. My USF sources all tell me it would be USF, and of course UCF sources say it would be them.
Tampa brings a bigger market and a somewhat better academic profile that fits the research level of most current Big XII schools. Orlando has a Fiesta Bowl Championship and an on-campus stadium. It just depends on what the league desires.