Big 12 Conference Potentially Seeking Additions from the West
It's time to spin the wheel of Big 12 Conference Realignment again. Yesterday, Scott McKinney, morning show host on The Ticket Sports Network in Florida (93.5 FM Panama City - 100.3 FM Destin-FWB & 97.1 FM Pensacola), publicized a report he put out on his show and social media. McKinney reported that the Big 12 Conference is looking at adding BYU and Boise State to get back to 12 teams.
Off the top of my head, some pluses for adding BYU and Boise State include:
- BYU's existing contract with ESPN. An eight-year deal which went into effect the fall of 2010, provides for ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU to broadcast all BYU home football games. If BYU joined the Big 12, you would think the value of that contract could be rolled into the Big 12's first & second tier rights, or be converted into a third tier rights contract.
- BYU's independence in football and West Coast Conference membership in all other sports and Boise State's membership in the Mountain West Conference. Since both schools are not involved in a 'Power 5' conference it would be assumed that there is little to no buyout for the schools to leave their current situations. If a deal between the Big 12 and BYU & Boise State can be struck within the next month, potentially both teams could be added to the Big 12 in time for the 2016 football season.
- An easy-to-create divisional alignment for the Big 12. Keep the Big 12 South as the Texas & Oklahoma schools and the Big 12 North as "everyone else".
One obstacle that would have to be worked around is BYU's policy of not playing games on Sundays. While it doesn't create an issue for football, it can for the other sports in the Big 12 Conference. My opinion? If the Big 12 wants BYU, they will have to agree to abide by BYU's policy.
Another small obstacle for scheduling, BYU plays baseball, but Boise State does not.
If the Big 12 can't strengthen its position in the world of college football, then within a few years of 2025 I can see the Big 12 breaking up, unless the members vote to dissolve the conference before then.
Why 2025 you ask? The College Football Playoff contract with ESPN runs through the 2025 season. Also, the Big 12 Conference's first & second tier television contract is through the 2024-2025 season. The Big 12 contract also included an extension of the grant of rights deal for the remaining 10 Big 12 teams.
Unless a settlement is agreed to, or litigation wins out, a team leaving the Big 12 Conference years in advance of 2024-2025 would lose a significant amount of television revenue. In addition, if the remaining 'Power 5' conferences added teams from the Big 12, the renegotiation of the CFP contract could be the best time to increase the value of the contract.
In looking at the current landscape, there are worse combinations of schools the Big 12 could add compared to BYU & Boise State. For example, Houston and Memphis. I would like to see UCF & USF be considered for Big 12 Conference expansion, but at the end of the day if BYU and Boise State are willing to make the jump, I say add them ASAP.