Big 12 Expansion Rumors: Two Power 5 Schools From Arizona Likely Targets

The latest Big 12 expansion rumors have focused on the future for a pair of Power 5 conference schools in Arizona, a new media report suggested Saturday.

The report by SB Nation focused on what Big 12 expansion ramifications could be for the Utah Utes. Although Utah is not being discussed for possible expansion efforts, the article references a turn-of-the-calendar report from the Arizona Daily Star speaking to what joining the Big 12 Conference might do for the University of Arizona. The answer actually makes sense — and presents a good case — for both Arizona and Arizona State University to consider expansion discussion and changing Power 5 conferences, according to the Arizona Daily Star report.

“Pros of Big 12 membership: many fewer late-night kickoffs and tipoffs. Drawbacks: Arizona has sizable alumni groups in California. It would actually make more sense for the Big 12 to pursue ASU and thereby capture the Phoenix TV market. But interest in college sports in Phoenix is, at best, mild. Either way, Arizona and ASU should both be looking for better revenue sources, even if it means marginalizing the Territorial Cup.”

The writer — Greg Hanson — argues expenses for the school wouldn’t climb dramatic should the Arizona schools decide to join the Big 12 during expansion proceedings. In listing distances between schools, Hanson showed where both Power 5 conferences have similar travel distances between members for Arizona. As well, current revenues for the conferences aren’t significantly different, showing that in many ways jumping to the Big 12 during expansion would be a lateral move.

If that’s the case, why would the writer argue that Arizona — and through inference, Arizona State — would be better served by joining the Big 12 Conference? Expansion in the ever-changing college conference landscape could lead to the Big 12 being the superior Power 5 conference in the future, Hanson argues.

“But given the take-it-or-leave-it attitude toward college sports in Los Angeles and San Francisco… you wonder if the Pac-12’s footprint is really superior to that of the Big 12. When the NFL begins again in Los Angeles, interest in Pac-12 sports will be further diminished in SoCal. Maybe a jump to the Big 12 doesn’t make sense for Arizona in 2016, but in the next five or 10 years, the Pac-12 might not be the school’s best option.”

Not all reports agree that Arizona or Arizona State would consider changing conferences during potential expansion proceedings. The SB Nation report suggests that the move is unlikely multiple times in the report.

The Dallas Morning News goes a bit deeper, suggesting expansion with Arizona or Arizona State should not be a both-or-nothing proposition for the Big 12. In examining what expansion could do for the Power 5 conference, Ballzy podcast host Evan Grant speaks with writers from the newspaper to explain why only one school should be considered for possible expansion.

“I know this makes things unrealistic, but unless somebody’s got an inferiority complex, going for two schools in one state does you nothing.You’ve got to incorporate two major TV markets. If you want to go Salt Lake and try to get Utah out of the Pac-12, if you wanted to go Arizona State or Arizona and get that out of the Pac-12, that’s one thing. But I don’t see how Arizona and Arizona State do you a whole lot.”

Big 12 expansion rumors have swirled since the football coaches and athletic directors met in Phoenix earlier this month. The rumors continue to build as the conference’s presidents will hold their annual meeting May 31 — June 3 in Irving, Texas. Early reports by the Inquisitr suggest the Big 12 Conference could reach a decision regarding expansion targets as early as this summer.

Beyond the Arizona schools, as many as 10 institutions are thought to be candidates for Big 12 expansion should the Power 5 conference add members. Those schools include Brigham Young, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis, USF, UCF, Cincinnati, and Colorado State.

Schools like Colorado State and UCF have been pushing for inclusion during potential Big 12 expansion since 2015, the Inquisitr previously reported. Schools like BYU and UConn seem to be locks in terms of expansion targets, but the Big 12 would likely only take one of the universities to minimize the travel distance between partners.

What’s potentially holding up any Big 12 expansion discussions is the super majority vote needed to add new members. The University of Texas seems to be blocking the move, wielding its influence to get both Texas Tech and TCU to vote against expansion. Texas could be the program that suffers the most during expansion, considering the school might have to abandon the lucrative Longhorn Network for the conference to build a league-wide network.

Do you think either Arizona or Arizona State changing Power 5 conference and join the Big 12 should expansion become a reality? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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