Big 12 expansion rumors have focused on a number of schools across the country, but few are as intriguing as the rumors surfacing about interests surrounding the Tulane University Green Wave.
ESPN writer Jake Trotter first reported the rumors as Big 12 expansion continues to unfold. While Tulane does not have a competitive football team, the Green Wave reside in New Orleans — a top 100 TV market. Additionally, the school is academically strong, a criteria that future members of the conference are expected to meet according to Oklahoma president David Boren.
Jake Trotter laid out the chances that Tulane could be added to the Big 12 through expansion while making the case for the Green Wave. Additionally, Tulane is committing financially to the athletic program as the school has pledged $120 million in capital investments, Trotter wrote.
“On the surface, it might seem far-fetched for Big 12 expansion to include a school that has just five bowl appearances since the 1970s and exactly one double-digit winning season in its history. But in the scenario of a four-school grab, Tulane — with its superior academic profile — just might be the wild card as this expansion drama unfolds… By any measure, Tulane doesn’t score well in athletics or fan base. But in academics, research and teaching, the school is a juggernaut.”
While Tulane may not be a particularly desirable member for Big 12 fans, few available expansion candidates move the needle the way most followers would desire. A list of dream candidates — including former league members like Nebraska — are unrealistic expectation for a league that nearly dismantled five years ago, an Inquisitr report detailed. That list of dream candidates includes UCLA and USC as well as PAC-12 brethren Arizona State University and the University of Arizona despite rumors to the contrary.
Most media reports have suggested between 10-12 schools could be considered for Big 12 expansion. All of the current schools come from outside the Power 5 — the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC — conferences. For the schools like Tulane outside of the Power 5 conferences, the Big 12 Conference’s expansion may be the last time in the foreseeable future these schools could compete for a seat at the table among the college football elite programs.
Big 12 expansion candidates like Colorado State and UCF have been pushing for inclusion since 2015, the Inquisitr previously reported. Other candidates 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.
In addition to either BYU or UConn, both Memphis and Cincinnati have made strong cases for inclusion during the Big 12 expansion, according to previous reports. Counting Tulane, the schools most often mentioned for potential Big 12 expansion reside in the AAC with the exception of BYU — a football independent but WCC member for all other sports.
Regardless of who the candidates are for Big 12 expansion, the new members are expected to be decided upon by the start of this year’s football season, NBC Sports reported. According to a source with knowledge about the process, the reason for the move was to keep from Big 12 expansion talk overshadowing the student-athletes competing on the field as well as give the chosen teams a chance to play in the 2017 season, the article explained.
“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.”
Do you think Tulane is a serious candidate for Big 12 expansion despite their recent on-field struggles? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
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