Conference Realignment: Big 12 Targeting Louisville, BYU for Expansion?

Louisville and BYU Aren't Being Shy About a Potential Big 12 Move

Never a dull moment in college football — on or off the field, it seems. The same week we hear news of Temple entertaining the Big East‘s desperation plea to get to eight members for 2012, now there’s murmurs the move may actually be a preemptive one for Louisville‘s possible departure.

According to SBNation and BYU‘s Rivals site, DeepShadesofBlue, it looks as if the Big12 is in talks of some sort with both the Cardinals’ and Cougars’ administrations. While it’s no secret that Louisville’s wanted out for quite awhile now, the fact that BYU’s back in the fold is nothing short of surprising. If you’ll recall, TV issues sort of halted discussions last fall — specifically, the Big 12’s partners weren’t thrilled with the Salt Lake City market and BYU wasn’t ready to fold its operation back into a conference, just months after leaving another one. But now, apparently, those thoughts have adjusted a bit:

“Talks between the two parties have ramped up over the past couple of weeks however, with discussions revolving around the possibility of BYU and Louisville being added in time for the 2013-14 athletics season. Such a move would get the conference back to its original number of 12 member schools, and provide it with the opportunity to hold a championship game for football in December of 2013.”

So there’s that. The Big 12’s pursuit of both schools of course has multiple reasons behind it. Expanding by two allows them to have a championship game again. Louisville would provide a bridge between the core of the conference and West Virginia. And BYU would cut off the last realistic bridge from the Pac-12 to the current Big 12 schools. Most of all, interim commissioner Chuck Neinas isn’t exactly opposed to the expansion idea. For the Cougars, they get a wider distribution of their games, an easier road to the money bowl games and a better home for Olympic sports in the Big 12. Louisville, of course, gets to leave the increasingly fractured (and consistently terrible) Big East in the dust for much greener pastures.

As for the Big East, they appear to be aware of their continued instability, hence why they’re continuously making moves just to stop the bleeding, rather than shore up the league. No current or future school associated with it can say with a straight face they don’t have one eye on another option (except maybe Temple), leaving it in a perpetual state of turmoil. Though Louisville’s departure won’t bury the league, it’ll be another blow to its credibility it just can’t afford to withstand much longer.

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8 thoughts on “Conference Realignment: Big 12 Targeting Louisville, BYU for Expansion?

  1. I think this will happen in 2013. The thought of the Big 12 being the only conference (besides WAC & Sun Belt) without a conference championship game is just too odd. Throw in the Roman Numerals in their conference logo that don’t even currently depict 12 schools and you see where things are going*

    Interestingly, the Big XII (Roman Numerals are stupid) also owns the naming rights to “Big XIV” and “Big XVI”. Cincy and Tulane/Houston/UNLV/Air Force/New Mexico…

    Eventually? Definitely.

    *NOTE: the numerals aren’t kept for tradition’s sake ala Big Ten since the Big XII Conference was only formed in 1996… the MAC literally has over 50 years of tradition on it).

    • While I can’t say I agree with the thoughts on Roman Numerals (my name does happen to legally feature them. haha), I agree, no real reason to keep them if they don’t reflect current membership totals. Also interestingly, the league has insisted that they’re to be illustrated as “Big 12″ (no numerals), in spite of the logo.

      Agree completely with your assessment of the Big 12, though. The league’s not run by stupid people and they know staying at 10 will just open them up to further expansion targeting,. Ideally, Louisville and BYU get them to 12. If they want to stave off an inevitable reach by SEC or the Pac-12, they should just finish off the Big East. Boise, Cincinnati, Houston, USF would all be smart additions. You could also swap out Cincy for SMU too. We all know 16’s the number, so might as well gun for it proactively.

  2. Tulane/Houston/UNLV/Air Force/New Mexico‚Ķ? Ain’t gonna happen. The Big XII is all about power programs. Even its traditionally weakest football team won the Heisman. These guys bring nothing to the table. The Big XII is focused on the SEC & what it will take to beat them. More interested in Clemson & Florida State right now. Read the power polls. The ACC is a non-entity in football.

    • Agreed that the Big 12’s focused on bigger brands for expansion, but not sure I follow on the notion that the ACC’s a non-entity in football. If Clemson and Florida State are drawing interest from other leagues, I feel like that would imply they have some value, no?

      • No, I meant the Big 12 is MORE interested in Clemson & Florida State. I can see how it read otherwise. Don’t know if either school has the moxie left to pull themselves out of the ACC and into a football centric conference. Everything in nature moves to entropy, even football schools who have given up on their roots.

    • I still think WVU will leave the Big 12 when/if the eastern conferences shuffle. So the B12 won’t lean east unless they can pick off some ACC teams.

      If the B12 adds BYU & focuses on a creating a western wing, I also doubt those schools mentioned above would be considered. They mostly stink in football.

      Boise might get a look on football cred alone.

      Colorado State actually wouldn’t be a bad replacement for CU Boulder. CSU brings almost everything CU did: large student body, lots of research cash , a solid academic reputation & potentially the Denver TV market. Both stink in football but it wasn’t that long ago that they were decent programs. And as an “ag school”, CSU would be a better fit with the B12’s midwestern culture.

      • I think WVU moves to SEC at some point. May be along with Clemson, FSU, Georgia Tech. However, I’d think the league would want to add OU & OSU before those schools (new markets, rather than ones they already own). Big problem for departing Big 12 is how much revenue they lose — six years of tier-1 and tier-2 TV rights.

        Also understand the points on CSU, but I just don’t know if they have the type of national cache the Big 12 desires. They’ve been doing pretty poorly lately, and I doubt they’d ever be truly competitive in the league.

  3. I guess the issue for either school comes down to (as always) money. If they can make the move to the Big 12 and be promised enough money to pay off the $20M exit fee associated with leaving the ACC, then sure, I could see it at some point. Both schools would get more access to Texas recruits and become more national brands. That said, unsure if they want to give up their guaranteed top-four finish (for the most part) in the league just to play OU and Texas’s whipping boy. A lot will probably be revealed once the ACC signs its new deal with ESPN, though. If the figures are in the range of the other leagues, there may be even less of a reason to depart.

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