Big 12 Expansion Prediction

On January 28th and the 29th the Big XII will meet and on the agenda is expansion. This weekend the latest news is a potential alliance of games among the Big XII and the ACC, along with two other conferences (Pac 12? and?). Among the benefit of an alliance is interconference stability and thus some believe this will preclude expansion. I believe this interpretation is incorrect because any alliance will be easier to arrange when the participating conferences have the same number of teams. The Big XII currently has only 10 members to the ACC 14. Lets look at other potential alliance conferences like the Pac 12, which will likely remain at 12 for a long time. It seems unlikely the 4th conference is any of the other major 5 (B1G or SEC, both of which are at 14). That leaves the MAC (at 13), CUSA (at 12 - 14) and the Sun Belt (at 8). Numerically the Big XII will fit into the alliance schedule better with 12-14 teams.

The Big XII has been reluctant to expand. They do not really want to split the current money pie among more members than 10. The TV revenue contract was signed last year and will run through the 2024-25 season so changes to renegotiate and increase revenue may not be easy. However the Big XII is clearly interested in staging a championship game. The new BCS arrangement may also favor conferences with a championship game. However, the NCAA mandate at least 12 teams for a conference to stage a championship game. This alliance talk really suggests the Big XII will expand.

There are two likely potential scenarios for Big XII expansion: one is for the Big XII to go to XIV but this is the less likely scenario unless the additional teams can cause a renegotiation of the TV contracts. As previously stated this scenario will include teams from the ACC such as FSU, Miami and Clemson as there aren't any other available teams out there of significant stature to cause renegotiation. I cannot imaging the Big XII employing a two handed, forked tongue negotiation for an alliance with the ACC and then raiding the ACC for teams.  I guess a deal can be arranged with the ACC to transfer two teams to the Big XII to leave both at 12. Going from 14 to 12 may mean more money for the remaining 12 ACC teams. In the backdrop of an alliance allows them to remain in the play schedule with the ACC still. Teams up for transfer might be FSU, Clemson, Miami and Louisville, all expressed some interests in joining the Big XII. These teams are also valuable football members of the ACC and thus seem unlikely to be "transferred." I understand if these teams are invited and choose to leave the ACC the ACC may not be able to do anything about it. However, the reason for these teams to leave would also be lessened with an alliance; they will be able to regularly play against a more football competitive Big XII and strengthen their game schedule and thus their tier 3 revenues. But given the underlying threat of B1G and SEC raiding the ACC I seriously doubt any serious consideration for the ACC to transfer any teams out. We will know more when the court decide where the Maryland exit suit will be fielded, in Maryland or in North Carolina.

While other teams like BYU, USF, Air Force, Navy, Cincinnati and Louisville (slated for the ACC) are available, no four will be sufficiently worthwhile to trigger TV contract renegotiation. Twelve it will be and no more for the Big XII. I hold with previous prediction of the Big XII will expand with BYU and USF. If so lets look at the new Big XII divisions:

  • West: BYU, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and TCU
  • East: Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, South Florida, Texas, and West Virginia

The two divisions are roughly equivalent in 60 years football competitiveness by mcubed rating with West at 52.0 and East at 48.2 (lower is better) and 7 years football competitiveness by F+ score with West at 9 and East at 7.2 (higher is better). These divisions also allow all teams equivalent exposure geographically to the heart of the Big XII: Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. This arrangement will necessitate at least one annual protect rivalry across division, possibly two annual protect rivalries. Keeping a nine game conference schedule will mean 5 in-division games and 4 cross-division games (2 annual protected and the remaining 2 split among the remaining 4 cross division teams every other year).

  • Team: protected rival 1 & protect rival 2
  • Baylor: TCU & BYU
  • BYU: West Virginia & Baylor
  • Iowa State: South Florida & Kansas
  • Kansas: Kansas State & Iowa State
  • Kansas State: Kansas & South Florida
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma State & Texas
  • Oklahoma State: Oklahoma & Texas Tech
  • South Florida: Iowa State & Kansas State
  • Texas: Texas Tech & Oklahoma
  • TCU: Baylor & West Virginia
  • Texas Tech: Texas & Oklahoma State
  • West Virginia: BYU & TCU

Note the following:

  1. All three religious schools play each other every year.
  2. The mountain states play each other (BYU & WVU).
  3. Iowa State plays their nearest geographic neighbors (Kansas and Kansas State) as well has access to Florida for recruitment (in addition to Texas).
  4. Up comer Kansas State also have access to Florida for recruitment (in addition to Texas).
  5. New members BYU and USF have cross division rivalry with current members rather than each other (BYU with WVU and Baylor, USF with Iowa State and Kansas State). 
  6. Recent newcomer TCU and WVU are protect rivals.
  7. Former MWC members are in the same division: BYU and TCU
  8. Former Big East members are in the same division: WVU & USF
  9. The following historical Big XII rivalries are thus affected:
  • Baylor & TCU rivaly since 1899: Baylor and TCU (every year)
  • Bedlam Series since 1904: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State (yearly)
  • Chancellor's Spurs since 1928: Texas and Texas Tech (yearly)
  • Chisholm Trail since 1913: Kansas State and Texas (every other year)
  • Farmageddon since 1917: Iowa State and Kansas State (yearly)
  • Red River Rivalry since 1900: Oklahoma and Texas (yearly)
  • Sunflower Showdown since 1902: Kansas and Kansas State (yearly)
  • Texas Farm Bureau Shootout since 1929: Baylor and Texas Tech (every other year)

              Update: A good argument for expansion to host a conference championship game:
              There's an argument that a conference championship game, which would necessitate 12 teams, would have elevated 2011 Oklahoma State and 2012 Kansas State -- both with one loss – closer to the top of the standings in a playoff format.
              I hadn't thought of how a CCG may actually help land the conference champion in the national championship game rather than hurt the conference champion.

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