The Big 12 expansion story has been kicking around for a long time now.

Schools such as Houston, BYU, Colorado State, and many, many others.

At the heart of the conference’s desire to expand back to at least twelve schools lies their interest in reviving their conference championship game in football. (And also, one presumes, to restore at least a semblance of accuracy to their conference’s name. But mostly the championship game.)

One potential avenue they’re reportedly exploring? Football-only members.

Pete Thamel wrote this piece for Campus Rush today, in which he speculates that Houston and Cincinnati have the best chances to be added:

The Big 12 adds Cincinnati and Houston: 60%

It has gotten so sideways for the Big 12 that the key tenet driving expansion decisions could be what will yield the least embarrassing press conference. Could Boren get trotted out in front of the media and explain not taking Houston? Likely not. Especially a few weeks after the Cougars pounded the Sooners, sold out NRG Stadium and did a remarkable 12.8 television rating in Houston.

Could Boren defend taking BYU? Probably not after a slew of LGBT groups have spoken out against the school, which has an “honor code” that includes the following provision: “Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

There’s already been a student government vote at Iowa State against the admission of BYU.

The potential of BYU’s candidacy has taken a precipitous dip. (Boren had long been considered a huge backer of BYU, which some speculate may be a reason he has cooled on his expansion stance.)

As for Cincinnati, the school has handled this process calmly and coolly. It is the Big 12’s safety date, and it’s hard to consider a scenario where the Big 12 expands and it doesn’t get invited. (Unless something drastic changes in the tenor of how BYU is viewed.)

Could they be the football-only candidates? Both schools are generally competitive in college football, while a step down from power conference status in other sports. But would they accept the invite as football-only? Probably, right? Though they have a bit of leverage as well, so we’ll have to wait and see.

[Campus Rush]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.