With the FBS season just a day away from kicking off, the conference realignment frenzy is still turning.
After the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC announced a scheduling alliance without the Big 12 (and members within the alliance already ruling out expansion), the Big 12 has reportedly looked elsewhere to recoupe some ground. According to ESPN’s Heather Dinich, a four-person subcommittee is set to meet Friday to discuss expanding the league.
Dinich adds that the Big 12 isn’t ruling out any possibilities, citing a source that told her “everything is on the table.”
Big 12 expansion has been a hot topic in recent years as the league — which is currently the smallest of Power Fives with just ten members — has explored the option already. Talks heated up in 2016 as the Big 12 was trying to keep up with its fellow conferences, courting possible candidates — reportedly including BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, UConn and San Diego State, among others.
Another report from The Athletic’s Max Olson and Andy Staples on Friday cites an unnamed source that says the Big 12 is already seriously considering a westward expansion with one of those old candidates in mind: BYU. Of potential suitors, Olson and Staples note that the Cougars have outperformed other candidates in terms of television ratings from 2015-19, while drawing a “comparable” audience to current Big 12 members. BYU also had 15 games on national TV kick off after 10 p.m. ET — which would be new territory for the Big 12, as no games in that span had kicked off after 8:30 p.m. ET.
In a broad stroke, Olson and Staples say the numbers suggest the Big 12 should move west.
If BYU were to join, they would be WVU’s furthest conference opponent, and the two schools would be the furthest removed in the Power Five at 1,910 miles. The two schools have met just once on the football field in 2016 — the Mountaineers defeated the Cougars at Fedex Field, 35-32.