On this afternoon's media conference call, the Big 12 shocked the CFB world once again by announcing, more or less, its intent to expand the conference's membership to 12 or possibly 14 teams. This came just a few minutes after reports started trickling out that expansion wouldn't happen, because nothing the Big 12 ever does is easy and/or makes sense.
There are a TON of tweets coming out fast on this, but I'll try to pick out a few of the best:
Big12: We've been contacted by a # of institutions & after this news breaks (abt possible expansion) we'll be contacted by them again.— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) July 19, 2016
Bowlsby: "There will be a two-stage process. Preliminary work, then a second process a little more of a perhaps… negotiations stage."— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) July 19, 2016
Bowlsby: "I don’t know I’m prepared to put a time frame on it right now. We intend to be active very soon."— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) July 19, 2016
Cincinnati, Memphis, Houston, UConn, UCF and USF have all started lifting weights. https://t.co/Wxtfld8mSl— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) July 19, 2016
This GIF has never been more appropriate: pic.twitter.com/wm0M7nkViS— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) July 19, 2016
Bowlsby: "Our board…saw the path forward clearly and have taken steps" (toward further exploration of expansion).— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) July 19, 2016
It the Big 12 wants to add four it should be Houston, Cincinnati, UCF and USF or Memphis.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 19, 2016
Boren reiterates current shares would not be diluted in the event of expansion, does not require renegotiation.— Jon Morse (@jonfmorse) July 19, 2016
David Boren drops the magical phrase "pro rata" if Big 12 expands, meaning conference would get additional money from TV partners.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) July 19, 2016
Great decision by Big 12. To be commended. https://t.co/sbU2mWcF4w— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) July 19, 2016
Boren is saying, again, that the Big 12 essentially wants schools to bid against themselves. Who’s going to make the Big 12 the most money?— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) July 19, 2016
Bowlsby indicates expansion COULD be in place for 2017 season.— Jon Morse (@jonfmorse) July 19, 2016
Worth pointing out, as many on Twitter are, that this is not yet set in stone. The Conference has apparently emphasized that it will explore options toward expansion that, as Wolken says, will essentially pit potential schools against each other in bidding. The vote to move forward was reportedly unanimous, but that vote is not the same as a vote to definitely expand. If you think, for example, that Texas will definitely block any attempt to expand at a later time, that option is still out there. Still, the possibility of expansion is significantly more real now than it was even a few days ago.
So the question now moves to which schools are most likely to be considered or want to be considered. There are a few obvious suspects: Houston, BYU, Cincy, Memphis, and both of the non-P5 Florida schools, to name a few. Who might be chosen and how many will eventually get the call is anyone's guess. Obviously, Baylor has a bit of a vested interest in who those schools might eventually be, especially if you want Tom Herman to be our next coach. The lure of Baylor becomes decidedly less powerful if Houston joins the Big 12, after all.
We'll keep you posted on this as more information becomes available.