The Big 12 Board of Directors has told commissioner Bob Bowlsby to "actively evaluate" two to four expansion candidates for three primary reasons:
#1 ... There is a provision in the Big 12 Tier 1 & 2 TV contracts through 2025 that says ESPN and Fox have to pay equal shares of revenue - per school - for up to six schools added to the league
#2 ... The ACC's moves to launch a network with ESPN in 2019 as well as Notre Dame agreeing that if the Irish decide to join a conference at any point the next 20 years, it has to be the ACC.
#3 ... Rumblings that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has spoken with University of Houston officials
There is a strong feeling from sources I talked to that there is momentum from most of the Big 12 Board of Directors to add four schools - not two.
If Bowlsby's evaluation convinces a majority of the Big 12 Board of Directors to expand, this may be a situation where Texas goes along with the majority while quietly evaluating its future come 2024. Let's be honest, that's good business sense, and it's what Oklahoma president David Boren has been doing for most of the past two years.
The names I've been hearing the most are BYU, Cincinnati and now Houston. But it's going to be a mad dash by schools in the Group of Five to try to get their Willie Wonka golden ticket into the Big 12. Everyone from Memphis - with FedEx promising to sponsor the Big 12's new football title game if the Tigers are admitted - to Colorado State, Central Florida, UConn and others, are lining up to make their case.
There is a lot of leadership in the Texas Legislature pushing for the Big 12 to add Houston. Much like the leadership in the Texas Legislature when the Big 12 formed back in 1996 had ties to Baylor (former Gov. Ann Richards and Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock) and Texas Tech (former House Speaker Pete Laney).
Let's be honest, most in the Big 12 - especially the fans - aren't going to get excited about any of these candidates.
This would be a cash grab by the Big 12 because of a provision in their TV contracts with the hope the schools they added would BECOME valuable assets - like the Louisville program David Boren worked so hard to get and the B12 passed on in 2011.
Bob Bowlsby said, "I would say that we are looking for members that will grow over time as we grow that will bring stability to the conference and that have a high top end."
In other words, the B12 Board is looking for growth stocks.