Big 12 Expansion Rumors: 11 Schools Remain Candidates With Decision Slated For Mid-October

Big 12 Conference expansion rumors are ramping up as nearly a dozen schools will make a second presentation to league officials this week in Dallas while the Big 12 looks to wrap up the expansion discussions by the October 17, 2016 board meeting.

ESPN is reporting the 11 schools that remain in contention for Big 12 expansion as Air Force, BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, Colorado State, Houston, Rice, South Florida, SMU and Tulane. Notable schools that did not make the cut include both Temple and Memphis, according to the article.

The meetings in Dallas will be the second presentation the remaining 11 schools have made to Big 12 Conference officials. The first meetings were reportedly held by video conference with Big 12 Conference commission Bob Bowlsby, the league official charged with making expansion recommendations to the board, according to the Inquisitr.

Bob Bowlsby has been hushed about the process surrounding expansion during the recent weeks. However, the commissioner did speak briefly about the process on Saturday before watching the Oklahoma-Houston game this weekend, according to USA Today.
"I don't have a vote. [Expansion exploration is] at the behest of the presidents and chancellors. I am confident they will make progress (by Oct. 17)."
His counterpart -- American Athletic Conference commissioner Mike Aresco -- had dinner with Bob Bowlsby prior to the game between the two schools. Among the 11 schools being considered are five schools from the American Athletic Conference. However, the Big 12 commissioner did not provide any insight into the expansion proceedings, Mike Aresco explained.
"Prior to [the dinner] he did say he would try to give me a heads up on timetable and how many teams they might be ultimately looking at."
One school that did not hurt its expansion profile during college football's opening weekend was the University of Houston. The Cougars -- one of the 11 teams scheduled to meet next week in Dallas with Big 12 officials -- scored an impressive 33-23 victory over their potential new league's defending champions in the No. 3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Earning the upset in a neutral site game in Houston, the No. 15 ranked Houston Cougars now have defeated top 10 schools in back-to-back games for the first time in school history and are 14-1 in their last 15 games.

An article on SB Nation called out the Big 12 Conference after the Cougars' victory. In throwing down the gauntlet, the lengthy headline questioned if the league was scared to add Houston during expansion. "Houston just beat the Big 12 favorite," the headline began. "Add UH to the conference, or look like cowards."

Even before the impressive victory over Oklahoma, ESPN already had called the Houston and BYU schedules for September as possible auditions before the Big 12 expansion decisions were finalized. In addition to three straight games against PAC 12 foes to start the season, the school will play an away game against Big 12 Conference member West Virginia University to end September.

Before the list of 11 schools was compiled, rumors about expansion ran rampant. Multiple schools from the PAC 12 had been mentioned as possible candidates if the Big 12 could attract a Power 5 conference member. Early articles focused on the two schools from Arizona as potentially considering expansion overtures while later articles speculated that USC or UCLA -- both Los Angeles-based schools -- would listen to a Big 12 Conference pitch.

Now, the Big 12 Conference will seemingly be relegated to the Group of 5 conference schools as expansion candidates. That hasn't kept fans from creating dream scenarios in which the league could add Power 5 schools, including past members back to the current roster.

What do you think about Big 12 expansion rumors suggesting 11 schools remain in contention for one of two or four available slots? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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