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Arkansas State, Air Force, Northern Illinois, San Diego State on Big 12’s expansion list, too

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Friday it was reported that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be conducting videoconferences with the 17 schools that have contacted the conference expressing interest in becoming a member of the league.  Of those 17, 14 schools were known.

Now we know the other three schools, as well as an 18th interested in membership.

As we had previously noted, San Diego State was believed to be one of the original 17 mentioned by ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy.  McMurphy confirmed SDSU is one of the now-18 that’ll state their case to the league, while also noting that the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State, Mountain West’s Air Force and MAC’s Northern Illinois will do so as well.

So, for those keeping score at home, below is a conference-by-conference breakdown of potential additions to the Big 12.

AMERICAN
Cincinnati
East Carolina
Houston
Memphis
SMU
Temple
Tulane
UCF
UConn
USF

INDEPENDENT
BYU

MAC
Northern Illinois

MOUNTAIN WEST
Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
New Mexico
San Diego State

SUN BELT
Arkansas State

While 18 schools will be afforded the opportunity to stump for their inclusion, it’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  While it remains to be seen whether the Big 12 expands by two or four, McMurphy also reported that it’s “less and less likely” that current 10-team conference will expand by four.

It has previously been reported that the Big 12 would like to settle the expansion issue before the start of the upcoming season, although that appears, like adding four schools, less and less likely.  Instead, a decision might not be made until a board of directors meeting scheduled for October.

Report: Big 12 will talk to 17 schools, expanding by two more likely than four

WVU vs Marshall
Associated Press
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While no announcement is imminent, it appears there’s some additional clarity on the Big 12 expansion front.

First and foremost, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy is reporting, it’s becoming what sources described as “less and less likely” that the Big 12 will expand to 14 from its current 10-school membership.  Instead, the conference likely either stand pat or add just two teams.  The latter move would allow the conference to split into two six-team divisions.

As for potential expansion candidates, McMurphy reports that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will conduct videoconferences with the 17 schools that have contacted the conference expressing interest in becoming a member of the league.  Those 17 schools include oft-mentioned suspects such as Boise State, Cincinnati, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, UCF, UConn and USF.  Additionally, East Carolina, New Mexico, SMU and Temple are part of the large group looking for inclusion.

Only 14 of the 17 schools that will be a part of the videoconferences were listed by McMurphy.  It’s believed San Diego State is another of the 17.  Air Force, Fresno State and Hawaii have also been previously mentioned as possibilities.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  The first one mentioned when it comes to presumptive front-runners will, however, have to overcome some negative attention some of its policies have received as of late.

It has previously been reported that the Big 12 would like to settle the expansion issue before the start of the upcoming season, although that appears, like adding four schools, less and less likely.  Instead, a decision might not be made until a board of directors meeting scheduled for October.

Vandy announces four-game series with Colorado State

FORT COLLINS, CO - OCTOBER 10:  The Colorado State Rams take the field to face the Boise State Broncos at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Rams 41-10.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The only question is, will Vanderbilt be facing the Mountain West Colorado State or the Big 12 Colorado State?

Regardless, both football programs announced Thursday that the two sides have reached an agreement of a future four-game series.  The first game will be played Sept. 26, 2020, in Nashville, with the Rams also visiting Music City Sept. 27, 2025.

The Commodores will travel to Fort Collins Sept. 11, 2021, and Sept. 26, 2026.

“We have high goals and aspirations for our program, to provide our students with the experience of playing against the best possible competition during their time as a Ram,” said CSU head coach Mike Bobo in a statement. “At home and away, our team and our fans can anticipate an aggressive approach to scheduling future opponents.”

The 2020 game will mark the first-ever between the two programs.  The 2021 game will serve as Vandy’s first in the state of Colorado since squaring off with Air Force in 1979.

With Big 12 rumors flying, Colorado State is halfway to completing new on-campus home

The Mortenson Construction crew and the CSU Athletics community gather for the Topping-Out Ceremony for Colorado State University’s new Football stadium. August 2, 2016
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According to some, Colorado State is a darkhorse candidate for the Big 12’s latest expansion endeavor.  To others, they are the longest of longshots.

Regardless of where their home is conference-wise in 2017, they’ll be in a new physical home as their construction project is right on schedule.

In December of 2014, CSU’s Board of Governors approved an on-campus stadium for the football program.  The $220 million stadium is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2017 season opener, and on Tuesday the university announced in a release that the project is “halfway to history” as the final piece of structural steel was put in place.

“The thing about this project that I’m so proud of is that this facility symbolizes Colorado State University,” CSU president Tony Frank said in a statement. “This is a university that holds itself accountable for excellence. This stadium really symbolizes that. Thanks for allowing us to, within a year from now, say to our football team, ‘Welcome home.’…

“What a transformational moment it will be to bring football back to campus.”

When the stadium is complete, it will mark the first time that CSU has played a football game on its campus since 1968.  The stadium will also bear the name of one of its legends, Sonny Lubick, thanks to an anonymous $20 million gift.

The release stated that “[m]uch of the stadium’s exterior has been completed even though ground was broken less than a year ago.”  The new stadium will hold in excess of 40,000 fans when completed; the official capacity for their current home, located four miles off the main campus, is 32,500.

For comparison’s sake, TCU and Baylor have the lowest seating capacity in the Big 12 at around 45,000.  Six others are 61,500 or less.

Big 12 reportedly prefers expansion to be settled before start of season

WVU vs Marshall
Associated Press
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Unlike most goings-on in the conference, it doesn’t appear the Big 12 is going to drag its feet on the biggest issue it’s currently facing.

The Big 12 announced earlier this month that the conference will expand, whether by two teams or four.  Regardless of the final number, CBSSports.com‘s Dennis Dodd, citing three individuals with knowledge of the ongoing process, reported Thursday, the conference “would prefer to wrap up the expansion process before the start of the 2016 football season.” The reasoning for an expedited timeline is simple: the powers-that-be in the league do not want expansion talk and speculation to overshadow actual football.

Such a timeline would also be beneficial for any incoming teams.

If the expansion teams are indeed announced before the season, that conceivably would give the new schools a chance to begin playing in the conference in 2017. For now, the league is in the process of contemplating how it will decide participants for its championship game that has been reinstated for 2017.

“I have not made any comment on time frame and do not plan any such statement,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told Dodd in a statement.

It’s believed that any new members for the Big 12 will come from a group that includes teams from both the AAC (Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Tulane, UCF, USF) and Mountain West (Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State) as well as football-independent BYU.  More specifically, BYU, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn are considered by some/most observers as the front-runners, with some throwing Cincinnati in as well.

The AAC kicks off its Media Days Monday, and expansion will no doubt dominate the conversation during the two-day event.