During the Big 12 media days, the Big 12 board of directors held a meeting on possible expansion. The board heard presentations from two consultants and came to the conclusion that expansion was in the best interests of the conference. The board authorized commissioner Bob Bowlsby to starting looking at possible expansion candidates.
David Boren, the Oklahoma Sooners president and board chair, said it's a positive step for the conference. Boren also said expansion by either two or four schools is possible.
"We are evaluating what expansion of the league might contribute to the overall process and the financial process of the league," Boren said during a teleconference with the media.
"At the end of that discussion, the decision of the board was to have the commissioner re-contact those schools who have contacted the conference and evaluate their interests, and he will be reporting back to us."
The Big 12 has been at 10 members since 2012, when the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Colorado Buffaloes,
Texas A&M Aggies, and the Missouri Tigers left the conference. The TCU Horned Frogs and West Virginia Mountaineers joined the conference during that wave of conference realignment.
The idea of Big 12 expansion has been mulled upon for over a year now and there are plenty of interested schools who wish to join a P5 conference. The most mentioned candidates include the Cincinnati Bearcats, Connecticut Huskies, Memphis Tigers, Houston Cougars, BYU Cougars, Colorado State Rams, and the UCF Knights. Other candidates mentioned include the Boise State Broncos and the South Florida Bulls.
The conference has acknowledged that there isn't a school out there that is a perfect fit. No team is guaranteed to deliver both highly competitive teams and a new large market that would increase the value of future TV contracts. Commissioner Bowlsby says that the conference is looking for members that will grow with the conference, that bring stability to the conference, and that have a high ceiling.
The league is also looking at all options and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby dropped the bomb that the league would consider sports specific teams.
Bowlsby: Football-only members a possibly in expansion.— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) July 19, 2016
This really helps Boise State as they are the best on the field football option but they are lacking in other areas such as market and stadium size plus academics are not exceptional. However, the Broncos have a brand that attract eyeballs and by joining only in football.
The rest of their sports could head to the Big West for basketball and other sports -- or the WCC, especially if BYU joins the Big 12 as a football-only member -- and have some sort of travel subsidy for those California schools.
San Diego State might also be an option for football-only (yet they'd be great in all sports in basketball) as they are on the uptick with improved success over the past few years. The Aztecs would need the league to take two other Western schools to help with divisions and travel, but this is probably the only scenario where San Diego State would be considered for the Big 12 in football.
While it is still a wait-and-see mode, the Big 12 made a giant step in their conference makeup.