SB Nation messaged the 10 editors of Big 12 blogs to ask our picks for expansion. I preferred the Big 12 remain at 10. If the Big 12 were to expand, I would prefer B.Y.U. and Cincinnati.
Everything I write on expansion is from the perspective of what I think is best for Baylor. While I also have a degree from Kansas, and would prefer to see Baylor play the schools in the Big 12, my ultimate rooting interest lies in whatever is the best for the Bears.
Why Not Expand?
As I’ve noted, the two big questions are: how does this help Baylor now? And how does this help Baylor after the grant of rights expires following the 2024-2025 season? Once the G.O.R. expires, the Big 12 could cease to exist as members flee for other conferences. Long-term stability is more important because falling outside a major conference makes competing in football and basketball much tougher.
I do not think expansion does much for the Big 12’s long-term viability. If the Big 12 had an agreement to expand and extend the G.O.R. my calculus would change. However, I do not see any evidence the G.O.R. will be extended. Instead, expansion is likely to add a couple of programs who do not make the league more likely to survive long-term.
The teams the Big 12 can add now are also likely to be available following the 2024-2025 season anyway. If those schools truly save the Big 12, then those schools can be added at a later day.
Expanding now may make it tougher to add a PAC-12 school if that conference collapses. Wide Right Natty Lite, the Iowa State SB Nation website, preferred Arizona and Arizona State. I would as well, but I think the only shot to add them is when the PAC-12’s G.O.R. expires in 2024. The Big 12 should keep the flexibility to expand with a stronger PAC-12 school in the future rather than accept a different team now.
Why B.Y.U. and Cincinnati?
I’ve laid out why I think Houston would be a disaster for Baylor.
Cincinnati’s case seems relatively straightforward. They’ve had strong football and basketball teams recently. They’d be a travel partner for West Virginia, and add an additional state and market for television revenue if the Big 12 ever adds a network. There is not much of a downside to Cincinnati, which is why I was surprised they did not receive more than seven votes in the SB Nation poll.
B.Y.U. is not without controversy. They are probably the best Big 12 addition- excluding a possible PAC-12 school- from a pure athletic and academic profile. B.Y.U. has a loyal alumni base, adds a Big 12 footprint in the West and has an excellent football history.
The problem with B.Y.U. has been well documented. I don’t want to write 5,000 words here describing my view on their policy even though that would probably be necessary to fully explain why I would still consider B.Y.U. as an option to join the Big 12. My viewpoint is that their honor code should be changed. However, I believe keeping B.Y.U. out of the conference for that reason is unlikely to get B.Y.U. to change their policy.
I know my viewpoint above will offend many who think B.Y.U. has the correct policy, or who think B.Y.U. should not change their policy. Others may be offended that I would endorse the Big 12 associating with a school with an honor code they find so reprehensible. I understand that disagreement, but these are not easy questions to resolve. My hope is this gives at least a viewpoint into how I voted.
My guess is that the Big 12 ends up staying at 10 for a while because, as this vote demonstrated, getting to 8 yes votes is difficult. The Big 12 may desire expansion, but once your favorite expansion target lacks the necessary votes, then the next team in line team may also have a tough road to eight yes votes. But it’s the Big 12. With the exception of the location of the Big 12 hoops tournament, nobody knows anything.