SOUTHERN BIG 12 EXPANSION
The debate surrounding satellite camps centers on universities infiltrating the South (primarily) to establish a presence among the region’s talent-rich recruiting scene.
Why rely on a satellite camp for one weekend when you can have a year-round presence in these areas?
Expansion offers an opportunity to not only break into new TV markets, but also plant flags in some of the nation’s key recruiting battlegrounds.
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
TV Market: Memphis (No. 50)
Home Venue: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (62,380)
Undergraduate Enrollment: 17,222
Memphis wants in the Big 12, and has a presentation to demonstrate what makes the Tigers a fit.
The positives are plentiful. Albeit, Memphis plays in a venue certainly big enough for Big 12 football. The TV market cracks the Top 50 (exactly 50th), and both the basketball and football programs have shown the capacity for success in the last decade.
Memphis is also an accessible travel destination for both the teams in the former Big 12 South, as well as eastern outpost West Virginia.
All told, Memphis has one of the stronger cases for Big 12 expansion.
TULANE GREEN WAVE
Location: New Orleans
TV Market: New Orleans (No. 51)
Home Venue: Yulman Stadium (30,000)
Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,339
Former SEC member Tulane sputtered for decades, save a few spikes of success here and there. But the opening of a new home stadium and the hire of an excellent head coach, Willie Fritz, suggests a turning of the tide for Tulane football.
Much about Tulane makes perfect sense.
The Green Wave fit geographically, while still expanding the Big 12’s TV reach into a decent-sized market. The university’s situated in SEC Country, directly in one of the deeper recruiting pools for that conference. Tulane’s lofty academic standards have to be appealing, giving the Big 12 a counterpart to Power Five rivals in the Pac-12 (Stanford), SEC (Vanderbilt) and Big Ten (Northwestern).
However, the school’s historic lack of success, low undergraduate population and modest stadium seating capacity might preclude the Green Wave from any Big 12 expansion discussions.
Location: Orlando, Florida
TV Market: Orlando-Daytona Beach (No. 19)
Home Venue: Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323)
Undergraduate Enrollment: 52,539
Few football programs can match the upside of UCF, the pinnacle of which was reached with a 2014 Fiesta Bowl win. The peaks are high, but the valleys are deep, as last year’s winless campaign showed.
A shift in the football landscape couldn’t come at a worse time for UCF, given the spectacular face-plant that was 2015.
Nevertheless, the university’s huge undergraduate population, relatively new football facility and placement within one of the nation’s premier recruiting territories are all attractive enough to negate the ugliness that was last seaosn.
And hey, who among the Big 12 leadership wouldn’t love to encroach on SEC territory?
Location: Tampa, Florida
TV Market: Tampa-St. Petersburgh (No. 11)
Home Venue: Raymond James Stadium (65,857)
Undergraduate Enrollment: 36,108
Back in February, I went into detail on the lofty potential of USF football, which Willie Taggart began tapping into last season.
Everything that makes USF a high-potential football program also makes it an appealing option for Big 12 expansion.
South Florida’s rich with high school football prospects. The huge (and growing) Tampa TV market promises more eyeballs on Big 12 programs as a result of expansion to USF.
A tandem package of UCF and USF strikes me as one of the more intriguing possibilities.