The Big 12 conference announced this week that it wants to grow. What it didn’t announce was its plans to do so. What we do know is the league could expand to as many as 14 teams, and its commissioner says those teams could be official members by 2017.
If the Big 12 conference does expand that much and that rapidly, we should know what teams are slated for admission relatively quickly. One team that could have feelers out more than any of the others is BYU.
While the Cougars recently decided they wanted to go it alone and left the Mountain West, the lure of a power five conference could be enough to draw the team to the Big 12. It would seem likely BYU’s having it’s own television network and devoted fanbase will be attractive when it comes to talking expansion with the existing schools.
As the Kansas City Star points out, the Cougars’ fancy new baseball stadium and 64,000-seat football stadium are attractive as well. The one big drawback, of course, would be that BYU isn’t really in the vicinity of the other Big 12 conference schools.
The Cougars would rather easily be the western-most programs. Of course, geography used to matter quite a bit more than it does now.
Faster jet planes and longer travel schedules mean the Big 12 conference no longer has to all be in neighboring states. This is likely why another of the schools that is getting a ton of mention today is Central Florida.
UCF is an interesting case because the football team is about as bad as a football team can be. The team finished 0-12 last year, though it did just hire a former Big 12 conference great in head coach Scott Frost.
Frost played for Nebraska during the height of that team’s power. While the school joined the Big 10 years ago, some of the older fans might remember when he was going up against the likes of Texas and Oklahoma.
Most members of the Big 12 conference know Frost better as the offensive coordinator for the Oregon Ducks. No, he didn’t invent the offense that took the Ducks to the top of the college football world, but he was given the keys.
By all accounts, Frost seems to have been more than capable of driving the car. Would the addition of a coach who could be gone from UCF in the next few years be enough to get the schoool in?
Probably not, but the Knights have other things going for them as well. When talking about the other schools that are candidates for joining the Big 12 conference UCF certainly brings in some revenue.
SBNation put together a list of the schools most likely to be added and UCF ranks third among those schools in revenue. Despite the fact that UCF has fallen on hard times recently, there also appears to be a loyal fanbase at the school.
When looking at average attendance, Central Florida has the second largest average attendance at a football game. BYU is the top potential addition, and their fans outnumber the average for the entire Big 12 conference.
Media markets are obviously a big thing these days, and UCF has a rather large one, thanks to it being located in Orlando, Florida. On the other hand, there are other schools, such as USF and Houston that have better markets.
When it comes down to trying to pick who is the most likely addition, it depends entirely on whether you believe there will be two or four new teams by the end of 2017. Both BYU and UCF seem to be shoo-ins if the Big 12 conference goes to 14 teams.
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