The Big 12 has ten teams right now, despite it’s name. Over the next couple years, the league’s presidents and chancellors have said they’d like to increase its size to 12 or 14. That decision could come as early as later this summer or early in the fall.
With expansion potentially on the horizon, schools in the Big 12’s footprint are beginning to express their desire to join the conference.
According to The Commercial Appeal, the Big 12 hired Navigate Research, a Chicago-based analytics firm, to look into expansion. The findings of the research stated increasing the conference to 12 teams would increase its chances to have a team in the College Football Playoff by four to five percent.
The University of Memphis is beginning to lobby for a spot in the conference, but Memphis isn’t alone. Also joining the school are a trio of fellow American Athletic Conference schools: University of Cincinnati, University of Central Florida, and University of Houston. BYU is also a possibility.
All five of those schools want in not only on the name recognition that comes with being a Power Five school, but also the money. According to the conference, last year eight of the 10 Big 12 schools received full shares of $25.6 million. At the recent league meeting in Phoenix, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that number could increase this year by $4 million per school.
The Big 12 didn’t put a team in the first College Football Playoff in 2014, but Oklahoma did make it for the Big 12 in 2015. Part of the reason why the Big 12 had trouble making its case in 2014 and barely snuck Oklahoma into this CFP was that it didn’t have a conference championship game.
Under its current format, the 10 teams play a nine-game round-robin conference schedule. However, the NCAA recently passed legislation that will allow the conference to have a championship game, despite only having 10 schools. That is a major reason why the conference would like to expand.
In Memphis, school President M. David Rudd recently released promotional materials to make the case for Memphis’ inclusion in the new Big 12. Rudd sent the same materials to Dr. Gregory Fenves, the President of the University of Texas, back in December.
— Dr. M. David Rudd (@UofMemphisPres) May 2, 2016
The Commercial Appeal also reported Rudd sent a letter as well that stated:
“ … few can match the Bluff City’s influence on modern culture. Fewer still can match our passion for sports… ” (we) welcome the chance to connect via phone and discuss in more depth some of the great things going on in Memphis.”
The Big 12 will most likely focus on the quality of the football programs when evaluating who should join the league. Memphis went 9-4 this past year while Cincinnati went 7-6, Central Florida went 0-12, Houston went 13-1, and BYU went 9-4.