• 7 Slides

Big 12 expansion: Seven simple questions for future

Big 12 expansion continues to be a hot topic this offseason. Seven questions need answered moving forward.

Stop if you’ve heard these questions before. 

Should the Big 12 add a championship game?  

Should the Big 12 expand to 12 teams? 

That’s the double-sided question du jour after one-loss TCU and Baylor sat out of the first College Football Playoff in 2014. Now, the Big 12 is seeking to address those questions, and it’s been a hot topic this offseason.

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What should the Big 12 do? Here’s a step-by-step guide tackling those two questions. 

  • Sure, there are risks. CBSSports.com’s Dennis Dodd pointed out that the Big 12 lost three national championship contenders — Nebraska (1996), Kansas State (1998) and Missouri (2007) —because all of those teams lost the conference championship game in the BCS era. The conference hasn't had a title game since 2010.

    Last season, however, TCU lost without losing.

    That happened when Ohio State leap-frogged the Horned Frogs in the final College Football Playoff rankings in 2014. It might be based on a 13th game. It might be based on the 59-point margin of victory in the Big Ten championship game. It might happen to the Big 12 again.

    "I think based on what happened, it's not about being for or against it,” Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said on the Big 12 spring teleconference in April. “It's going to be a necessity for our league to keep up with other Power 5 conferences."

    Yet TCU coach Gary Patterson, whose team was left out of the playoff, was half-and-half on his answer.

    "I still don't understand why it's needed if you have a committee picking the four best teams,” Patterson said on the same teleconference. “If it's thatimportant for the conference, then yeah, let’s do it."

    Yes. Let's do this.

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  • As early as 2016. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN.com a formal proposal to deregulate conference championship games has been advanced to the NCAA Council, and the conference is expected to be allowed to have a championship game despite having just 10 teams.

    That would go into effect for the 2016 season. If that happens, expect the Big 12 to move toward playing that game on the same weekend as the other Power 5 conferences.

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  • That’s the hot topic after Oklahoma president David Boren said the Big 12 is “psychologically disadvantaged” in a statement to the Oklahoma Daily on June 26.

    Expansion certainly is a conversation, but it’s not a necessity if the conference gets that all-important conference championship game.

    Travel costs, especially for a school like West Virginia, which is at least 800 miles away from every other Big 12 school, also come into play, especially for sports that aren’t football or men’s basketball. Would the Big 12 add a travel partner for the Mountaineers?

    The Big 12 also splits its revenue, which climbed to $252 million last season, among just 10 schools instead of 12 or 14. That's not even factoring in what to do with the Longhorn Network.

    There are major hurdles to clear before a potential expansion.Still, there are a bunch of schools making not-so subtle plays to get in.

  • Who are those schools in question? BYU, Cincinnati and Houston have made their feelings known. Boise State, Central Florida, South Florida and Memphis also would be candidates.

    It’s a valuemenu of candidates of schools from the AAC, Conference-USA and independent ranks. It’s a matter of how hungry the Big 12 really is to get to 12 teams. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to eat off the valuemenu.

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  • If the Big 12 does include two more schools, it will likely come with a football-first buy-in. It almost always does.

    If that’s the case, BYU would have to be near the top of the list. Theyput the Big 12 in the Mountain Time Zone.They have a Power 5-like brand.That brand, of course, comes with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    “I don’t know who we have to touch on the forehead with a magic wand in the Power 5,” BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall told Sporting News last October. “My hope is to keep playing them and beating them until somebody says, ‘Hey, this doesn’t make sense.’ We don’t want to be included unless somebody takes us for exactly the brand we bring.”

    Cincinnati brings a nice football-basketball combo, and coach Tommy Tuberville made a not-so subtle pitch on Sirius XM Radio on Monday.

    Houston gives the Big 12 another Texas school, and Tom Herman already is off to a hot start with the Cougars.

    Boise State is 166-28 since 2000 and owns the highest winning percentage of any FBS school in that stretch at .856. Central Florida would give the Big 12 a footprint in Florida if that becomes a priority.

    A two-pack among those five schools would make the most sense if it goes in this direction. BYU, Cincinnati and Houston appear to be the best fits to fill those two spots.

  • This is unlikely, but it doesn’t hurt to do the math. Look at the full membership of the ACC (14), Big Ten (14), SEC (14) and Pac-12 (12). Notre Dame isn’t a full member of the ACC.

    If there ever was a move toward four super conferences with 16 teams apiece, there are 10 open spots among those four conferences.

    The Big 12 has 10 teams. Having 64 teams in four conferences looks an awful lot like the NCAA men’s basketball tournament without play-in games. The theories are out there already.

    “I think some teams move in and out of the conference to put themselves in a better situation,” Tuberville said on Sirius XM on Monday. “I think there possibly might be another conference that might be started that will give a chance for another playoff possibility."

    Still, this scenario, while interesting, seems unlikely at best to happen anytime soon.

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  • Start with getting the championship game in place. The Big 12 already installed a head-to-head tiebreaker to avoid the confusion created by TCU and Baylor last season, and a championship game would give the conference “one true champion” once and for all.

    Expansion should be evaluated more carefully, and it will be. The Big 12 can’t add teams for the sake of adding teams, especially with the pool of teams available.

    In thatsetup, the best bet remains to go out and win football games.

    “If you’re asking me the question, I've said it all along,” Baylor coach Art Briles said on the Big 12 spring teleconference. “If you can go undefeated in our league, you'll be in the College Football Playoffs. That's the bottom line.”

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