Everybody has a plan for the Big 12 and what it should do with expansion. Sooners Illustrated is no different.
If it’s two schools, you go east. If it’s four schools, well, you have some fun.
If the 10-member conference is added by two, sticking to original plan from the spring with Memphis and Cincinnati.
Memphis and Cincinnati are both somewhat attractive TV markets. It helps get you into recruiting Ohio even though you’ll be going against the likes of Michigan (Jim Harbaugh) and Ohio State (Urban Meyer) for the majority of the top recruits.
Memphis does the same for the SEC in recruiting. SEC has gotten into the Big 12’s money-maker in Texas, this could be a chance to branch out the Big 12’s base toward at least Tennessee and maybe beyond.
Memphis and Cincinnati eases the burden for West Virginia and its fans. It’s two road trips that are a lot easier to make, and the drive to Cincinnati is actually doable instead of flying everywhere.
You add in what both schools have done in the past in basketball, and it seems like an easy win-win-win situation for all involved.
And you can’t deny the dollar signs behind the possibility of having a Big 12 championship at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Money will obviously play a role in it, too, and that’s a nice dangling carrot to have out there.
But if it’s four schools, it becomes a much tougher task. Sticking with Cincinnati and Memphis, but then gravitating toward Houston as a full-time member and BYU as a football-only member.
The battle with BYU is the Sunday conflict. The Cougars have never had any athletic contests Sunday because of their religious beliefs. And that’s fine, nobody’s angry about that, but just feel that will be too much of a hassle to make it work in a league that has several events on Sundays.
So go the safe route. You know there won’t be any football games Sunday, and BYU and its fan base is something the Big 12 should be craving.
The controversial, for lack of a better term, selection is Houston. It’s tough for a lot of people to see the benefit of bringing in the Cougars. It’s another school from Texas in a market (Houston) where the conference already has eyeballs.
It’s another school in Texas to make recruiting the area that much more difficult. The Dallas Metroplex has becoming increasingly more of a challenge with TCU in the fold, the same would happen if Houston was added as well.
Texas politicians weren’t afraid to throw their hat in the ring late last week, stating Big 12 expansion cannot happen without Houston. Again, money will talk throughout this process.
Adding Houston could hurt OU, but it’s clear the most immediate impact would be on schools like Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and other Big 12 schools looking to climb the ladder opposed to already being on that top rung like Oklahoma and Texas.
Tech and OSU see Houston, rightfully so, as fertile recruiting ground. What would happen if some of those recruits opted to stay home because now Houston is in the Big 12? You lose one here, one there, and suddenly one class is weakening and the other is getting stronger.
As much as it would be tough for some to swallow that five of 14 schools would be Texas, it’s tough to envision adding four school without Houston getting the nod.
There are those who are going to say none of these schools add value. They’re not a name brand like Nebraska or Colorado hoping to get back into the fold.
But think about 10 years ago and where TCU (Big 12) and Louisville (ACC) were at? Sometimes the perception that you’re a big-time school helps you realize the result of being an actual big-time school.
Sometimes adding a market like N.Y./N.J. with what the Big Ten did with Rutgers makes more sense compared to adding another athletic behemoth.
The message was loud and clear last week during the Big 12 teleconference with commissioner Bob Bowlsby and OU president David Boren. Expansion is back on the table, and everyone is going to go all-in to make this happen.
Last week was a rough one for the conference. Between expansion talks and the introductory press conference of Baylor’s interim head coach Jim Grobe, the school became the butt of even more jokes. It wasn’t a good look.
Hitting a home run with expansion picks would be a nice way to show the conference isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Cincinnati and Memphis or Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston and BYU.