Texas Tech Red Raiders

Matt Ritchey
Associated Press

Expansion rumblings once again swirling around Big 12

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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.

Mike MacIntyre confident Colorado can hold onto Davis Webb

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 25:  Davis Webb #7 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Mike MacIntyre, 10-27 in his three seasons at Colorado, needs to win to keep his job. He needs a quarterback to win. That’s not to say a quarterback is all the Buffs need, but they’re not winning without competence behind center.

So MacIntyre really needs to hang on to Davis Webb.

A graduate transfer from Texas Tech, Webb signed a financial aid agreement to join the Buffs’ roster in January, but NCAA rules allow other schools to continue recruiting the lanky gunslinger. And they have. Webb has visited Auburn and Pac-12 bunkmate California.

“I just don’t like the rule,” MacIntyre told Kevin Gemmell of ESPN.com. “He signed with us. He signed a financial aid agreement. And then everybody else can still recruit him … and try to manipulate him, which I do not agree with. I think that’s wrong. But that’s the way the rule is. But I believe he’ll still be here at Colorado.”

Colorado has a quarterback in Sefo Liufau, a 3,200-yard passer in 2014. But Liufau is still in the process of recovering from a Lisfranc foot injury he suffered at the tail end of 2015. A redshirt is still on the table for him, meaning Webb is either a nice luxury or a necessary stop gap. Colorado’s next most experienced passer is rising sophomore Cade Aspay, who tossed three touchdowns and five picks in 92 attempts last season. senior Jordan Gehrke, who threw all of 24 passes last season.

Still, MacIntyre thinks Webb will eventually join him in Boulder.

“I talk to Davis Webb basically every day,” MacIntyre said. “Almost every night. He’s told me every time he’s definitely coming to Colorado. I don’t have any other reason to think why he wouldn’t.”

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)
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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.

Colorado State announces future home-and-home with Texas Tech

FORT COLLINS, CO - NOVEMBER 22:  The Colorado State Rams take the field to face the New Mexico Lobos on November 22, 2014 in Fort Collins, Colorado. Colorado State defeated New Mexico 58-20.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Earlier in the week, North Carolina State announced a future series with Texas Tech.  Wednesday, Colorado State did the same.

In a press release, CSU confirmed that it has reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Tech.  The Rams will host the Red Raiders in Fort Collins Sept. 6, 2025, and then travel to Lubbock to finish out the second half of the series Sept. 12, 2026.

“It is important for our program to build toward the future and face competition that will challenge us and excite our fans,” said CSU head coach Mike Bobo in a statement. “We’re excited to play a game and have a presence in Texas, where we recruit heavily, and to be able to bring a Big 12 program to Fort Collins.”

CSU and Tech have met twice previously, in 1968 and 1987, with the Red Raiders winning both games.  Each of those contests were played in Lubbock.

NC State announces future series with Texas Tech, Vandy, UConn

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 31:  The North Carolina State Wolfpack run onto the field before their game against the Clemson Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium on October 31, 2015 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Tuesday afternoon, North Carolina State decided to do a rather hefty scheduling dump.

That football program announced earlier in the day today that it has reached an agreement on three future home-and-home series, including one each against Texas Tech and Vanderbilt.  The Tech series will take place in the years 2022 (Raleigh, N.C.) and 2027 (Lubbock), while the Vandy series will be played in 2026 (Nashville) and 2028 (Raleigh).

The Wolfpack owns a 4-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Red Raiders, with the last meeting coming in 2003.  The Commodores have beaten the Wolfpack in both previous meetings, including a 38-24 win in the 2012 Music City Bowl.  The only other previous meeting came back in 1946.

In addition to those two series, NCSU will also take on UConn in a third home-and-home.  The Wolfpack will host the first game of that series in 2022, while the Huskies will return the favor the following season.

NCSU has won both games between the two football programs, the first one coming in 2003 and the most recent in 2012.