Big 12 Expansion Welcomes The Most Contentious of Topics


Politics, religion and conspiracies! No, this isn’t a lede about the presidential race, which mercifully ends in three weeks. Let’s talk about Big 12 expansion, which lately incites as much ill-will as any election.

While voters get in the booth 22 days from today, Big 12 expansion may have another nine years to fuel speculation and outright misinformation from the attention-starved, with the conference’s grant of rights extending to 2025. College Football Playoff results and league revenue distribution every year for the coming decade could only exacerbate the already exhausting conversation.

The only way today’s press conference, scheduled for 6:30 ET, does anything to put a lid on the babble is if new members are indeed introduced.

And why not Cincinnati? UC is one of two Big 12 expansion candidates with the tiniest shred of “evidence” to feed the need for realignment possibilities.

Yes, a deleted tweet that sparked earnest conversations about university-approved branding. That’s where we’re at with Big 12 expansion. UC does indeed use a version of the above (and since deleted) image with an all-caps “CINCINNATI,” albeit as the institution’s secondary logo. Maybe it’s like Paul Revere’s Ride, only instead of “Two if by land, one if by sea,” we have, “Lower-case for full membership, caps for football affiliation.”

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News tackled the possibility of football-only expansion in his column last week, highlighting the advantages — advantages that benefited BYU and Houston, specifically.

Houston’s possible membership comes with a political angle, somewhat reminiscent of Baylor getting a life raft when the old Southwest Conference fell apart. Yes, if there’s anything a conspiracy-laden college football story needs, it’s politics.

Texas Lt. Governor Greg Abbott’s angling for UH may not be as forceful as Ann Richards’ advocacy for Baylor in the 1990s, but give it time.

And if politics isn’t enough, another topic Linus Van Pelt sagely advises to avoid discussing with others comes with the other likely Big 12 expansion candidate, BYU; that being religion.

BYU’s candidacy improves as a football-only affiliate on the grounds no one need worry about scheduling around Sundays as the gridiron’s concerned. However, the possibility of protest from LGBT groups looms regardless. The apparent availability of byuTV to broadcast today’s presser might suggest something’s afoot in Provo. Might. Maybe. Who knows.

The believers are so ready to buy in to any possible signs of Big 12 membership, the old Nigerian email scam might work on certain athletic departments.

Every candidate has pros and cons, both of which are argued from all sides. TV executives have taken a firm stance on the con side, including Fox’s Eric Shanks, who told Sports Business Daily (emphasis added is mine):

“We don’t think expansion in the Big 12 is a good idea for the conference. We think it will be dilutive to the product in the short term. In the long term, it’s probably harmful to the future of the conference. Who knows where expansion is going to go.”

TV networks have played a central role in guiding the direction of conference realignment, so an executive offering a “who knows” speaks to the instability of the current Big 12. The league’s contracted with Fox, which has morphed into a Skip Bayless informercial channel, taking breaks from plugging his new show to occasionally show college football.

I have my own conspiracies on that front, but I’ll keep them to myself. With another nine years of this possibly ahead, it’s only a matter of time before conspiracy-monger Alex Jones jumps on Big 12 expansion. He is based in Texas, after all.