BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall told the Austin-American Statesman last week that his squad would “love” to be in the Big 12. The AAS cited two sources who said the Cougars moving over to the Big 12 was unlikely, and now two conference athletic directors told ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy that the league has no interest in expansion.
Kansas State’s John Currie and West Virginia’s Oliver Luck said the conference has not even had any discussions about the possibility of adding additional teams.
“Expansion is one thing we’re not talking about,” Luck said.
With ten teams and a nine-game conference schedule, every team plays one another. Luck says this is one reason to hold off any expansion talks.
“The conference schedule is absolutely great,” Luck said. “Our tagline is ‘one true champion.’”
Luck added that there really aren’t any viable teams from outside the Power 5 conferences that would bring added revenue to what the conference already creates. The league announced a record $220.1 million in distribution revenue to split among each school last week.
“Out dominator is 10,” Luck said. “The more you split it up … I don’t think we can find a partner who’s available right now to stay at the value we have (per school) or let alone increase what we have. That’s the consensus we have (staying at 10).”
That pretty much puts an end to that.
BYU’s independent status has become somewhat of an obstacle for the Cougars as we inch toward the new College Football Playoff. Strength of schedule is a big part of the equation for the CFP selection committee moving forward and both the ACC and SEC have instituted a rule where member schools must schedule a Power 5 opponent. The Cougars do not meet qualifications of a Power 5 team the way fellow independent team Notre Dame does. Obviously, a move to a conference like the Big 12 would have been a boon for BYU.
“Our attendance is high enough. And our winning percentage is high enough,” Mendenhall said. “We have the entire Salt Lake City and Utah market as well as a worldwide following because of the (Mormon) church. There’d be a ton to offer the Big 12, because it’s a money-generated world right now. You’re talking about an amazing kind of brand.”
Mendenhall has some decent points, but from the Big 12’s perspective, it just would not make sense.
With realignment as the topic of discussion, Luck also revealed an interesting tidbit to McMurphy. After Pitt and Syracuse bolted from the Big East to the ACC and the talks of Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State joining the Pac-12 were heating up, he established a plan that would have merged teams from the Big 12 and Big East.
Luck's plan, which also had the support of Louisville athletic Tom Jurich, was also to add UCF for a 12-team Big East divided into two divisions: West: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU and Louisville; East: UConn, Cincinnati, Rutgers, West Virginia, South Florida and UCF.
That, of course, would have been contingent on those four Big 12 teams leaving, but Texas and Oklahoma stayed. The Big East essentially disintegrated, and West Virginia was able to join up with the Big 12 after Missouri and Texas A&M left for the SEC.
“I remember thinking: ‘That’s not a bad conference,’” Luck said. “And we would have kept the affiliation with the (Big East) basketball schools, because they loved the addition of Kansas. They (the Big 12 schools) also liked it. They were nervous as hell, too. We had a series of phone calls. That was sort of our best option.”
That certainly would have been interesting.
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