This week the Big 12 has had one of the more unusual media days. From the Baylor questioning to whatever this is, the Big 12 always seems to find a way to make the rest of the College Football world laugh. So how poetic that in about the span of an hour, that the Big 12 has gone from "evaluating expansion" to "expansion by two or four is being looked at".
Remarkable: In 1 meeting, Big 12 has gone from multiple officials saying expansion would be tabled to all but saying expansion is coming.— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) July 19, 2016
With the current cast of candidates, this is shocking to say the least. The Big 12 is most likely going to have to go after an American conference member if they want to expand to 14. However current Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder had this to say about expansion:
Earlier today, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he knows there are two schools who want back into the Big 12. Which 2 are the question.— Cameron Brock (@camdbrock) July 19, 2016
Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M all left the Big 12 to go to the SEC, the Pac 12, and the Big Ten. With Texas A&M having the most success and becoming more of a National Power then they ever would be in the Big 12, it is safe to eliminate this team. It could easily be any of the other 3 teams with all having little to no success in their new conference home. So what would happen if the Big 12 went after any one of these schools?
Well, according to Forbes, neither the SEC, Pac 12 or Big Ten have exit fees. However the Big Ten and Pac 12 have a contract in which they own the media rights of schools that leave to a certain year. This opens up the opportunity for the Big 12 to really go hard after Missouri. Will Missouri leave? I would say its 50/50 but I would lean towards no. But they certainly are the most likely of any SEC team to leave. Especially since I can tell you with a 100% solid no that none of the 13 other teams will consider leaving the SEC. If Missouri were to leave by some off chance, who would the SEC look for as their fourteenth member?
Most people point to the ACC, but any ACC team that leaves the conference at this point is crazy. Especially with news this week of the ACC Network, which gives the ACC media rights for every ACC team until 2036. Yikes. And while adding a California team would be ideal from a TV subscriber standpoint, it is not financially feasible to add USC for instance and to have so much unnecessary travel expenses. Plus it would be kind of weird to have California in the Southeastern Conference. So with the SEC not pursuing a Pac 12 or a Big Ten team, the best choice would be another Big 12 team. And there is only one current team that would benefit both the SEC and themselves financially from leaving the Big 12: Oklahoma.
And it is not a coincidence that Oklahoma has been the first team to talk about when discussing SEC expansion. Is the SEC interested in Oklahoma? Yes, but Oklahoma would have to decide on their own to leave the Big 12 and to ditch rivalries with Oklahoma State and Texas. Something Oklahoma was scared of doing the past few realignment cycles. Oklahoma knows just how successful the move to the SEC was for Texas A&M. Imagine match ups such as Oklahoma-Florida, Oklahoma-LSU, and yes Oklahoma- Alabama.
Oklahoma could make three new rivals right there. They just played a home and home with Tennessee and had their Eighth Largest Crowd in Memorial Stadium History. Playing Texas at the Cotton Bowl does nothing for Oklahoma. Oklahoma wouldn't be losing Texas recruiting ground either because Texas A&M is in the SEC. So why doesn't Oklahoma make the move? David Boren has been fighting for some strange reason to expand the Big 12.
Expanding the Big 12 does not help the Big 12 if none of the four candidates listed above are options. The Big 12's current top candidates are BYU, Boise State, UCF, Memphis, and Cincinnati. Why does Oklahoma feel like adding UCF and Cincinnati will help the conference in the slightest? TV Markets do not matter because the Big 12 does not have a conference network thanks to Texas. The NCAA recently passed legislation that allows the Big 12 to play a conference championship game with ten members, which they will begin in 2017.
Adding more teams just means the Big 12 will have to share more money. Something Texas does not want to do. Maybe Boren thinks the Big 12 will collapse sooner if they add more teams and it will let them leave the conference. And don't believe the Oklahoma to the Big Ten spin. Prior to their 2013 Stadium expansion, only TWO of Nebraska's top ten attendance records are Big Ten Teams and no Big Ten team is in the top 3 of their current attendance records. At the end of the day if Oklahoma is so worried about academics, then why do they want to add Memphis, Cincinnati, and UCF so badly? The SEC has better academics then what the new Big 12 will look like and that along with the money should entice Oklahoma to join the SEC. So will Oklahoma join the SEC? Maybe but most likely not before 2025 because that is when the current Big 12 media rights expire.
While the potential Big 12 expansion will not affect the SEC this go around, it could affect the SEC within the next decade. Which could cause another domino effect. This time around it appears to only affect the American Conference, and some teams from Conference USA such as Southern Miss and UAB. And as for Mississippi State? Well do not be surprised if the Bulldogs end up playing two power 5 conference teams in one season with the possibility of Memphis to the Big 12.
If Oklahoma does choose to leave at some point, which is the domino everyone is looking for, what would the SEC do about a sixteenth member? Given the current climate of media rights and exit fees, it is hard to find another SEC worthy candidate. And for those that say Texas would help the SEC, they wouldn't. Just look at the Big 12. If it was not for them, A&M would've never left and neither would the rest of the Big 12 teams. And the SEC Network most likely would not have been a reality. So in an indirect way, the Longhorn Network helped create the SEC Network. All I have to say is "thanks Longhorns".