USA Today Sports

Big 12 Expansion: Ranking The Candidates

Robert Allen ranks the candidates to join the Big 12 if the conference decides to add two, or possibly four, teams in the future.

In the initial teleconference announcing that the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors had given commissioner Bob Bowlsby the instructions to survey and evaluate the candidates that had shown interest with the intent of expanding the league, University of Oklahoma President and chairman of the Big 12 Board David Boren gave his criteria to be examined with the candidates.

"Obviously we're look at the strength of the athletic programs, their competitiveness," Boren said. "We're looking at the fan base; we're looking at access to media markets. And also we're very much looking at the reputations of these institutions for integrity. We're looking at the academic standards of these universities, the level of research and teaching at these institutions. So we're looking at a whole composite of factors not just any one factor. So it's really impossible to single out any one. All of those things will come into play and we'll be able to look at, say, a range of how these universities compare, those that have expressed interest to us, how they compare with each other in all of those categories.

"And we're very seriously concerned about all those categories, because we obviously stand for athletic competitiveness, winning in the right way," Boren continued. "We also stand for academic excellence. When we use the term student-athlete, we use that very seriously and that's just not a slogan."

We took a shortcut and used US News and World Report's ranking of American colleges and universities, the Niche College Top 100, for athletics the Learfield Director's Cup final standings for 2016, a compilation of several rankings of college towns and American communities, then rankings of facilities for athletics (on campus), and football tradition, bowl games, championships. The football rankings were not overall with all colleges and universities but just within this group.  

As an example here is where Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas of the Big 12 came up in the same research.

Oklahoma State - 93 (Niche); 149 (US News); 18 (Learfield); 141 (College Towns); 2 (facilities in Big 12); 4 (football tradition in Big 12)

Oklahoma - NR (Niche); 108 (US News); 14 (Learfield); 49 (College Towns); 3 (facilities in Big 12 - after current project could be 1st); 1 (football tradition in Big 12)

Texas - 16 (Niche); 52 (US News); 9 (Learfield); 8 (College Towns); 1 (facilities in Big 12); 2 (football tradition in Big 12)

Here is what we came up with using an expanded list of candidates. The overall ranking is arbitrary and was done by me. 

1. BYU - 59 (Niche); 66 (US News); 27 (Learfield); 4 (College Towns); 1 (facilities in this group); 1 (football tradition in this group)

2. SMU - 75 (Niche); 61 (US News); 85 (Learfield); 58 (College Towns); 3 (facilities); 5 (football tradition) 

3. Houston - NR (Niche); 187 (US News); 73 (Learfield); 15 (College Towns); 2 (facilities); 3 (football tradition)

4. Connecticut (UConn) - NR (Niche); 57 (US News); 58 (Learfield); 58 (College Towns); 7 (facilities); 6 (football tradition)

5. Rice - 5 (Niche); 18 (US News); 131 (Learfield); 15 (College Towns); 8 (facilities); 10 (football tradition)

6. Cincinnati - NR (Niche); 140 (US News); 101 (Learfield); 12 (College Towns); 6 (facilities); 9 (football tradition)

7. Colorado State - NR (Niche); 127 (US News); 112 (Learfield); 31 (College Towns); 5 (facilities); 8 (football tradtion)

8. Central Florida (UCF) - NR (Niche); 168 (US News); 140 (Learfield); 20 (College Towns); 10 (facilities); 4 (football tradition)

9. Boise State - NR (niche); Rating Not Published (US News); 70 (Learfield); 123 (College Towns); 4 (facilities); 2 (football tradition)

10. South Florida (USF) - NR (Niche); 156 (US News); 65 (Learfield); 30 (College Towns); 12 (facilities); 11 (football tradition)

11. East Carolina - NR (Niche); 194 (US News); 169 (Learfield); 55 (College Towns); 9 (facilities); 7 (football tradition)

12. Memphis - NR (Niche); Rating Not Published (US News); 174 (Learfield); 255 (College Towns); 11 (facilities); 12 (football tradition) 

13. Temple - NR (Niche); 115 (US News); 165 (Learfield); 91 (College Towns); 13 (facilities); 13 (football tradition)

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