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Big 12 expansion has a few different scenarios

Not expanding is still on the table for the Big 12.

Texas v Oklahoma State Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Today is the day that the Big 12 has its regularly scheduled with the league presidents, but after that press conference there is a scheduled press conference after the meetings that is expected to start at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The Big 12 has been all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ in regards to what they will do in expansion. The latest reports come from both Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated and Mark Blaudschun of

Both are reporting that the TV partners Fox and ESPN might pay the Big 12 to not expand and not allow the league to use the built-in pro rata clause that requires the TV partners to increase the media rights deal by $25 million per team per year.

“If they put more money up and bought out that pro rata clause, we’ll likely keep ourselves at 10,” speculated a high-ranking Big 12 source told Thamel.

From Blaudschun’s report:

Such a move would be far cheaper for the television networks than the additional $20 million a year they are obligated to pay for each additional school, a deal which was part of the 13-year $2.6 billion media rights deal signed 4 years ago. According to sources throughout the league, no one is certain what the Big 12 will do for a simple reason: No one in the conference really knows. Various opinions from conference schools have been floated over the past several weeks, but not even Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby–who supports expansion–is sure what will happen when all the presidents/chancellors gather in Dallas.

Here is even more evidence that the Big 12 TV partners are not keen on expansion, especially from Fox.

“We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference,” said Fox Sports President Eric Shanks via Sports Business Daily. We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference. Who knows where expansion is going to go. Reading the smoke signals, [expansion talk has] cooled off. I don’t know why. We’re still in discussions with them. We still have a long way to go in the deal. We’ll work through it the best way that we can.”

So, what are the scenarios for the Big 12 as they have their press conference Monday evening.

We will not dive into the weeds on every single scenario, and these will not be in any particular order because the conference preference changes with the wind.

  • One option that has been gaining steam is for the league to not expand and coupled with the TV partners to pay money to not expand. Another reason is that there is little to no consensus for the eight votes needed to bring in teams.
  • Possibly the worst scenario is that the league says they need more time to look over potential candidates. Most people would like an answer either way and that also includes teams that are in the mix.

This is still a high possibility of happening.

“I just don’t know,” West Virginia President Gordon Gee told the Charleston Gazette-Mail last week. “I’m sure there will be a very serious discussion. Now, whether or not there will be a final decision made, I’m not certain I can say. I think we’re getting closer to some type of decision, but it’s very complicated and there are a lot of moving parts, so I don’t want to predict.”

  • Another option is that the league will in fact add teams to the conference and the favorite, at the moment, is to include Cincinnati and Houston as is football-only members — which gives BYU an edge to avoid the hassle of Sunday play — to the league but there is also concern from Big 12 programs who want to not add another Texas team — obviously that comment is toward Houston.
  • One other look is that the Big 12 goes full Big 12 and add teams that no one is thinking and goes with Central Florida and South Florida, goes West and take Air Force and Colorado State, or maybe some combo that includes UConn and a Western school like Air Force, BYU or Colorado State and maybe with that option even football-only.

The teams that are still in the running are The 12 schools are Air Force, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UConn,Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU, Temple and Tulane.