At some point in 2016 or early 2017, the Big 12 conference is expected to expand to 12 or 14 teams. There are a variety of schools in the running from within Texas and across the nation. Let’s take a look at each program that is being considered and their odds for receiving an invitation to join the Big 12.
Schools Within the State of Texas
There are three schools in Texas that are currently receiving consideration to be part of Big 12 expansion efforts. The first program is the Rice Owls, and they have been a bottom feeder for as long as they have been in existence. However, they are a good school from an academic standpoint and would conceivably help other programs schedule a winnable conference game each year.
Southern Methodist University (SMU) was a powerhouse team back in the 1980s. However, after scandals rocked the school’s football and other sports teams, it has been largely irrelevant.
Houston is ranked 6th in the nation as of the second week of the 2016 season. They have already beaten Oklahoma in 2016 and have won two American Athletic Conference titles. The Cougars are pouring millions of dollars into improving their facilities and would be a marquee program that the conference could use to increase its chances of sending a team to the college playoffs.
Schools in the Southeastern United States
Another three programs are located within the southeastern portion of the United States. Tulane is located in Louisiana and is known for its academics and its outstanding baseball team. However, as a football school and a marketing tool, the Green Wave probably isn’t the best fit for the Big 12.
Central Florida won nine games in 2014, and it looked like the school had a bright future. However, the Knights went 0-12 last year and don’t look poised to have much success in 2016. A 5 dimes sportsbook review of current odds as well as odds from other sports books has them among the least likely to get an invite.
The South Florida Bulls are another Florida school that may find itself in the Big 12 soon. Like Central Florida, it is located in a part of the country where prime recruits can be found. The Miami area is also a relatively large television market.
The Northern Schools
Cincinnati and the University of Connecticut are located farther north and well outside of the Big 12s typical geographical area. That doesn’t mean much these days when television ratings and revenue that comes with it are at stake. Cincinnati has had relative success as a member of the Big East and the American Athletic Conference. Better known for its basketball team, the Connecticut Huskies are unlikely to get an invitation despite their presence near large markets like Boston and New York City.
The Other Candidates
Air Force and Colorado State are the final two candidates in the running for an invitation to the Big 12 conference. Air Force is attractive because it is a service academy, and it would be a great story to see such a program make it to a large bowl game or even a playoff game. That can’t happen unless the Falcons join the Big 12.
The only thing that Air Force and Colorado State have in common is that they both are located in Colorado. The Rams aren’t the worst team in college football, but they are far from the best. This means that they have relatively little chance of getting an invite based on their performance on the field alone.
College realignment is something that will continue for as long as there are financial and competitive reasons to do so. While this may leave some teams scrambling for a home, it ensures that emerging programs can find a spot among the elite once they prove they belong there.
Tags: Big 12, sports