ESPN conducted a survey among Big 12 coaches about the upcoming conference realignment and expansion, with the BYU Cougars and Houston Cougars getting the most votes.
Not really surprising, although the Big 12 might eventually go with four schools being invited and not just two. Right now, the list of candidates seems to be BYU, Houston, Memphis, UConn, Cincinnati, Colorado State, UCF and South Florida. Most are from the American conference, while BYU are an independent school, and Colorado State are in the Mountain West conference.
BYU fans created an interesting website (byutobi12.com) with interactive graphics from stats, favoring their inclusion in the conference, referring to TV market size, alumni presence in the entire United States, academics, strength of football program and athletics at the schools in general, among other things. The conclusion, on the site at least, is that BYU should be included, obviously. I wonder if someone from UConn or Cincinnati made a similar site would produce similar results.
For BYU, financially, it would be simpler than for others to join the Big 12. They’re not tied down. Teams leaving the American Conference need to notify the conference 27 months in advance, and pay $10 million. For someone leaving the Mountain West, it’s to provide a one-year notice, or pay the conference: $5 million or double the school’s final year’s conference revenue, whichever is greater.
Obviously, it’s not all ideal for the BYU standpoint: The distance and the not-playing-on-Sunday rule makes it problematic. Not in football’s case, but in other sports, although that could probably be worked around. That would create a conference spanning almost the entire nation. West Virginia already feel a bit out of the way. The distance from Morgantown to Provo in Utah is just over 1900 miles. Houston joining makes the most sense geographically, but many think it doesn’t add anything to the conference that already has Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU.
And new Big 12 teams need to remember: Money won’t be flowing into their coffers right away. The Big 12 doesn’t give full shares to new members, not right away. TCU and West Virginia, joining in 2012, just received full shares for the first time. This means the current 10 members enjoy the new money, and the factor of which schools are willing to take less money for the longest time period will help the Big 12 determine who they add on board in the end.
One interesting theory about all this has Colorado State joining the Big 12, giving Colorado an incentive to leave the Pac-12 and return to their previous conference so they can have their rivalry with the Rams. This opens up a space in the Pac-12, helping BYU join a much more reasonable conference for them, and helps them be in the same conference with Utah once again. That’s some creative thinking, but who knows, maybe it’ll happen.