With a couple simple tweets, University of Texas leaders made it perfectly clear Thursday where the Longhorns stand on Houston's candidacy as a possible Big 12 expansion target.



The tweets from Texas president Greg Fenves and chancellor Adm. William McRaven followed a tweet of support for Houston by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.


The support from the Longhorns for another Texas school currently riding high in college football after a 13-1 season in 2015, capped with a Peach Bowl victory over Florida State might surprise some.

But the possibility of expansion in the Big 12 needed only to open a crack for the substantial political muscle in the State Capitol from Houston, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, to descend on UT on behalf of the University of Houston.


That political pressure is real. I was also told Thursday that Houston and BYU are looking like the best bets right now to get in. I was also told the league's expansion proponents are seeking candidates as full members, if possible, and would settle for football-only membership as a last resort.

It's very possible politics will not only keep Texas (and Texas Tech and TCU) from being able to shut down any potential expansion in the Big 12, but it could also mean Houston's chances of joining the league are increasing dramatically.

It's unclear where Big 12 schools outside of Texas stand on possibly adding UH. Sources told HD Oklahoma president David Boren supports expansion but was skeptical of  adding UH. OU and Oklahoma State typically vote together. Eight of 10 votes in the Big 12 are needed to add a school to the league. Three no votes would block UH's candidacy.

One issue to keep an eye on is a 300-acre piece of land in Houston purchased last year by the UT System at the urging of chancellor McRaven for the purpose of building a University of Texas campus in Houston. The purchase came as a surprise to the Houston legislative delegation, because McRaven didn't give anyone a heads up.

Houston lawmakers have tried to tie up the completion of the purchase - until they know exactly what McRaven's intentions are for the land.

Some key Texas administrators, including Fenves, were blindsided by the purchase.

Nonetheless, McRaven's ability to complete the purchase of the land in Houston has become a bargaining chip if Texas ends up helping UH get into the Big 12, two sources told HD Thursday.

On Wednesday, I reported Texas would not stand in the way of UH's candidacy and would even support it.

That much became clear on Thursday.

According to reports, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott met last month with Houston athletic director Hunter Yuracheck - at Yuracheck's request - as UH has tried to drum up support for the Cougars to join a Power 5 conference. 

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who is "actively evaluating" two to four expansion candidates, said the league's presidents and chancellors next have a meeting scheduled for October. But they could meet sooner on expansion if need be, Bowlsby said.

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