After months of speculation, the end, one way or another, could be near for one of the biggest off-field storylines in college football over the past several months.
The Big 12’s board of directors will gather Oct. 17 for a previously-scheduled meeting that will continue the conference’s discussion on expanding the league from 10 to 12 or 14 teams — or staying put — with some previously noting that that date could prove to be D-Day for the group. With that date fast approaching, that could very well be the case as Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News writes that “[a] news conference has been scheduled after the… meeting, presumably to let everyone know whether the Big 12 will” expand or not.
The speculation of late, especially as it pertains to the reported waning of Oklahoma’s support for expanding, is that the Big 12 could indeed be leaning toward staying at 10 teams, or at the very least tabling the expansion discussion for now. While “pretty much all the options are on the table,” Carlton writes, the likelihood of standing pat has grown of late.
Sources confirmed Wednesday that pretty much all the options are on the table, including the possibility of football-only membership with Houston and BYU the most likely members. The sources also confirmed that expansion has gone from likelihood about six weeks ago to maybe a 1-in-3 chance.
A total of 20 Group of Five schools, including 10 alone from the AAC, made initial pitches to the Big 12 for inclusion if the conference opted to expand. Ultimately, nearly a dozen of those made the cut as “finalists.”
Of the 11 that are currently under consideration, seven come from the AAC — Cincinnati, Houston, SMU, Tulane, UCF, UConn, USF — two from the Mountain West — Air Force, Colorado State — and one from Conference USA — Rice. The lone remaining school, BYU, is a football independent.