Kansas Jayhawks

Matt Ritchey
Associated Press

Expansion rumblings once again swirling around Big 12


Expansion in major college football has been in hibernation for a couple of years now, but it appears movement on that front could be imminent.  Or it could not.  One of the two.

Over the past 24 hours or so, a handful of stories have surfaced that, once again, have the speculation swirling around the Big 12 when it comes to that conference getting back to matching its numerical name.  From analytics to potential expansion candidates to the 800-pound Longhorn in the middle of the room, the Big 12’s annual spring meetings this week figure to at least begin — or, more specifically, continue — the process of settling the expansion/conference title game/league network issues that are all inextricably intertwined.

To wit:

— Monday, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby confirmed that in research performed by an analytics outfit hired by the league, a 12-team conference with an eight-game league schedule and a championship game is the best model for one of its teams qualifying for the college football playoff.  Right now, the Big 12 is the exact opposite of that model, with 10 teams, nine conference games and no title game.

According to Bowlsby, the first combination would increase a league’s chances of sending a team to the playoffs by five percent.  As Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News asked, would that slight bump be enough to get everyone onboard with expansion and a title game?

“Some would say we want every advantage we can get,” Bowlsby said. “Others may say it’s not enough to blow up a good scheduling model.”

From Carlton’s report:

Bowlsby said the Big 12 is scheduled to receive “two major reports” in Irving. In addition to information on the title game, Navigate will examine scheduling models for a 10-, 12- and 14-team conference and the variables involved.

In February, Bowlsby said he hoped to have an answer to the expansion question, one way or the other, this summer.  Just how close Bowlsby gets to that timeline will depend on how things go in Phoenix this week.

— Boise State, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and UCF have all been mentioned as potential candidates if the Big 12 opts to expand.  According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the UofM has been lobbying the conference for inclusion in a next round of expansion if it comes.

University of Memphis president M. David Rudd sent a promotional publication – highlighting the finer points of the city and its major university – to University of Texas president Dr. Gregory Fenves in December, showcasing the U of M as a possible Big 12 expansion candidate.

Rudd said the publication, entitled “Memphis Soul of a City,” captures “the passion and proud history of Tiger athletics including a historic run by our football program.”

The Memphis publication highlights the city’s top Fortune 500 companies, its overall attributes and the U of M’s attributes, including its recent athletic accomplishments, particularly the turnaround by the football program. Tiger football has gone 19-7 the past two seasons.

— And, finally,that 800-pound Longhorn we spoke of earlier.

It’s long been believed that Texas is not in favor of expanding the conference, especially at the expense of folding its Longhorn Network into a conference-wide network, with Texas Tech and TCU, for their own reasons, following in lock-step with the state’s flagship institution.  According to a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, the conference is one vote shy of garnering enough support to expand.

It’s believed seven of the 10 schools favor expansion. But Big 12 bylaws call for a super majority vote of 75 percent (so at least eight schools) to make a major change. Texas is believed to be influencing Texas Tech’s and Texas Christian’s decisions to also be reluctant to expansion.

Texas Tech has long fallen in line with Texas. Both are public universities that have been in the same league together since 1956, when they were in the Southwest Conference. Texas and Texas Tech were founding members of the Big 12 in 1996.

TCU is believed to be following Texas’ lead because the conference’s power broker reportedly helped the Horned Frogs get into the Big 12 four years ago.

In other words, we’re right back to where we’ve been on multiple occasions in the past: as Texas goes, so goes Big 12 expansion.  Or doesn’t go, as the case may be.

UPDATED 6:38 p.m. ET: If you want an idea as to Texas’ thought process at the moment, I think this sentence pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Big 12 spring attendance by the numbers

Oklahoma State football team take the field for a spring NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, April 16, 2016. Black team defeated orange 20-7. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
AP Photo/Brody Schmidt
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By now we know the spring attendance numbers in the SEC and Big Ten will always be higher than the other power conferences (having 14 teams helps, of course). The Big 12 will never compete in this pretty useless stat, especially when so many schools fail to record any figure at all. Five Big 12 programs reported no spring attendance number this spring, which left us with just five schools to count when putting together the Big 12’s attendance figure. As things stand right now, the Big 12 looks to be locked into a fourth-place finish this spring, with the Pac-12 the only power conference lagging behind the Big 12 in the spring attendance standings.

Big 12 Spring Attendance By School

Here is how the Big 12 schools compared to each other in spring game attendance.

  1. Oklahoma – 42,436
  2. Oklahoma State – 17,500
  3. Iowa State – 15,089
  4. Kansas State – 14,643
  5. West Virginia – 6,000

Note: Baylor, Kansas, TCU, Texas and Texas Tech did not report any spring attendance figures.

Biggest Increase, Biggest Drop

Some of the Big 12 practices were washed away by bad weather, so we saw more schools not report any official or estimated attendance this year as a result. Baylor, for example, reported a crowd of 5,610 for its spring game in 2015 (which was also hampered by weather), but they opted not to take a crack at a number at all this time. Texas Tech also got washed out this spring. A couple of others either did not report an attendance figure or did not respond when asked for any input. Texas is one of the schools that does not record an attendance figure. So, given the schools that did have data on record for 2015 and 2016, who had the biggest increase and biggest drop?

The biggest jump in spring attendance this year was seen at Iowa State, where the Cyclones doubled their attendance from 7,500 fans in 2015 to 15,089 this spring. Is there a Matt Campbell effect going on here? There was not much difference in attendance figures for Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or Kansas State, but Kansas State had the biggest drop in attendance with 17,080 fans in 2015 and 14,642 fans this spring. It is worth noting Kansas State played their spring game at Sporting Park last year, making the spring game more of a unique event in an MLS stadium. West Virginia also had a drop in attendance by 2,115 fans. It is important to also remember the West Virginia game was not played in their home stadium but an alternate venue with limited capacity, which some schools do.

Quick Hits

  • With five schools not on record for spring attendance this year, the Big 12’s final count stands at 95,668. Ohio State eclipsed that mark by themselves each of the past two seasons, and Georgia had 93,000 fans this spring.

You can view my database of spring game attendance in this Google doc. It is updated periodically as information becomes available or confirmed.

Kansas QBs Montell Cozart, Deondre Ford granted hardship waivers

AMES, IA - OCTOBER 3:  Defensive end Darius White #41 of the Iowa State Cyclones puts pressure in the second half on quarterback Montell Cozart #2 of the Kansas Jayhawks on October 3, 2015 at Jack Trice Stadium, in Ames, Iowa.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
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After injuries robbed a pair of quarterbacks their 2015 seasons, those two will be getting another season in return, Kansas announced Wednesday afternoon.

Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford, KU confirmed in a press release, have been granted medical hardship waivers by the Big 12.  Both players will be classified as redshirt juniors for the upcoming season and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Cozart started three of the first four games of the 2015 season before a shoulder injury ultimately sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  A thumb injury limited Ford to just two games — one of which was the lone game Cozart didn’t start among the four — the same season.

“It is great to see the Big 12 is giving Montell and Deondre a year back after both of these guys had their junior seasons end prematurely,” a statement from head coach David Beaty began. “They have worked tirelessly with our medical staff to get healthy and we are fortunate to have two more seasons with them in our program.”

Cozart, Ford and Ryan Willis are all vying for the starting job this year.  Willis started the final eight games as a true freshman after the first two were injured, but has been dealing with his own injury issue as he hurt a wrist playing pickup basketball this offseason and was limited in the spring.

Kansas named in another lawsuit alleging sex assault by football player

STILLWATER, OK - NOVEMBER 09:  A Kansas Jayhawks helmet beside the bench during the game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys November 9, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Jayhawks 42-6. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
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Baylor’s not the only Big 12 with an image problem stemming from allegations of sexual assault.

Last month it was reported that the parents of a former Kansas student-athlete had filed a lawsuit against the university, claiming the school “is misleading the public by representing campus housing as safe.” The suit alleges that their daughter, Daisy Tackett, a former KU rower, was raped by a Jayhawk football player in the fall of 2014. The player was not named, and it was unclear at the time if it’s a current or former player, although he remains a student at the university.

Fast-forward to today, the Kansan is reporting, a second student-athlete has filed a lawsuit against KU, also claiming that she was assaulted in the Jayhawk Towers in August of 2015.  That alleged sexual assault involved the same football player that was allegedly involved in the assault on Tackett in the fall of 2014.

“KU made me feel worthless,” the unnamed student said in a statement. “After I reported my assault, everything KU did made me feel like they were trying to get me to crack and leave.

“My rowing team coaches didn’t care, didn’t help, and they did not protect me. … How many women need to be victimized before KU will take action? I reported my assault, and KU turned my experience into a living a nightmare.”

The lawsuit claims that the alleged victim “suffered and continues to suffer great pain of mind, shock, emotional distress, physical manifestations of emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation, missed educational opportunities and out-of-pocket costs.”

“To protect the rights of all parties involved, the University of Kansas does not comment on individual sexual assault investigations,” a statement from a KU spokesman. “When the university receives a report of sexual assault, we quickly take action to support the person who came forward and work to investigate and resolve the matter. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.”

Miss. St., Oregon among options for transferring Indiana WR Dominique Booth

Dominique Booth
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Indiana has put an end to Dominique Booth‘s playing career with the Hoosiers, but the wide receiver is determined to continue it elsewhere.

On Twitter Tuesday, Booth confirmed that the medical staff at IU has not cleared him to continue participating in football for the Hoosiers. However, Booth claimed in his statement that his career is not over as “every other doctor I have seen has cleared me to continue my career.”

Booth will wait to transfer to another university until he graduates in the spring of 2017. In the interim, he will remain in classes at IU and work as a student coach for Kevin Wilson‘s football program, specifically with the receiving group.

In a report from 247Sports.com, Booth stated that he will be visiting Mississippi State this weekend. He added that he’s also considering, among others, Ball State, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Oregon. As noted in his tweeted statement, Booth says he has “talked to schools from every Power 5 conference and some MAC and some AAC schools.”

If he follows through with his plan to wait until he graduates to transfer, Booth would have at least two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2017 season. There’s also the possibility that he could receive a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA, which would give him yet another season of eligibility.

Booth was the highest-rated member of the Hoosiers’ 2014 recruiting class, with the four-star prospect ranked as the No. 48 receiver by Rivals.com. As a true freshman, he started six games. Thanks to injury and attrition, his eight receptions made him IU’s leading returning receiver entering 2015.

That season was cut short because of hand surgery in October, while another, undisclosed injury sidelined him this spring.