Big 12 Expansion Candidates: Names To Know



Hit the music!

I’m almost hesitant to even include some of these on the off chance it lends even a sliver of credibility to attention-seeking bloggers.

Nevertheless, discussion of Clemson and Florida State as Big 12 expansion targets gained enough steam at one point to prompt discussion from credible outlets.

The ACC is in a much better place now than it was four years ago, making any jump from the ACC unlikely — but that won’t quell chatter.


I’ll spare you the profiles here, because they aren’t happening. Still, all three will get mention somewhere at some point in this process.

A handful of bloggers operating under pseudonyms caused an uproar in May 2012, “reporting” via anonymous “sources” that Clemson and Florida State moving to the Big 12 was imminent, the result of the ACC mismanaging TV negotiations.

Shrewd Florida State brass didn’t downplay the possibility when asked, though here were are four years and three ACC championships later, and both the Tigers and Seminoles remain in the ACC.

Miami never quite got the same buzz as a Big 12, but the Hurricanes were bounced around as a possibility at one time. Miami brings a big TV market, local recruiting pool and history of success — all of which benefits the ACC.


Location: DeKalb, Illinois

TV Market: Chicago (No. 3)

Home Staium: Huskie Stadium (25,500)

Undergraduate Enrollment: 15,027

Northern Illinois was my own suggestion in my Summer 2014 column on building a 16-team Big 12. The concept was admittedly pie-in-the-sky, even if I wasn’t the first dreamer to bring up the Huskies for the conference.

Few programs at any level of college football have been as successful in the last 12 years as Northern Illinois. The Huskies’ potential on the big stage is intriguing, and the school’s proximity to Chicago would plant a Big 12 flag in one of the largest markets in the nation — not to mention Big Ten territory.

Otherwise, there’s little to suggest an NIU-Big 12 marriage is anything other than a pipe dream. Huskie Stadium’s capacity is almost half that of the Big 12’s smallest venue. The school’s placement in the Chicago market is tenuous at best.


Location: South Bend, Indiana

TV Market: National via NBC

Home Venue: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795)

Undergraduate Enrollment:

Back in early 2012, when conference realignment hysteria was at its apex, Notre Dame briefly became THE hot name for Big 12 expansion, based primarily on the Fighting Irish brokering a home-and-home with Texas.

Yes, this is how stupid that wave of expansion got. We had guys who operated under names like “Tuxedo Yoda” and “The Dude” presenting completely unsubstantiated rumors like legitimate news, and simple nonconference scheduling was seen as conspiratorial.

Notre Dame has no reason to join a football conference. None. Zip. Zilch. Its contract with NBC is far too lucrative, even with an potential boon coming as part of a package to ESPN or Fox might provide.

The Irish get to schedule on their terms, without taking trips to Lubbock or Manhattan. The only way Notre Dame joins any conference is under coercion from the College Football Playoff. Barring the removal of its Power Five designation, you can forget Notre Dame in any conference, Big 12 included.


Location: Pittsburgh

TV Market: Pittsburgh (No. 23)

Home Venue: Heinz Field (68,440)

Undergraduate Enrollment: 18,757

Pitt’s not included among its ACC brethren in part because it wasn’t involved in the uproar of 2012. For one thing, Pitt would have made a lot more sense then during the end of its Big East run.

Bringing over its historic rivalry with West Virginia and rich history was logical at the time. Emphasis on at the time.

Now a member of the ACC, Pitt’s landed in Power Five territory, and paid the cost to do so. No chance the university jumps leagues for a second time in less than a half-decade.

Square Knight

There are several dozen data points likely under consideration.  Good thing for UCF that the Knights are at the top of most of them. From school size, to local TV market size, to state TV markets size, to multiple recent conference championships, to a higher average football attendance than any other G5 candidate except BYU...UCF is the obvious choice.

It would be stupid to select Houston since they would ad ZERO value to any potential B12 network.  UCF's value to a potential B12 network is $20 million - $30 million higher PER YEAR than Cincinnati, Memphis, UCONN or any other school except USF. 

According to a NY Times survey, Cincinnati is not even in the Top 3 most popular college teams IN Cincinnati, while the same study shows that UCF is clearly the #1 college team in the Orlando area.  The same NY Times survey showed that across the state of Florida, UCF is tied with the Miami Hurricanes on overall popularity.