If you wrote a script where the entire premise was to kill the Big 12, I don’t think it would have been anywhere close to what has unfolded over the past month. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has lost his two biggest programs to the SEC only to be left out of The Alliance by the ACC/Big Ten/Pac-12.
Even worse for the remaining eight schools within the conference? It seems as if neither of the other four Power Five conferences are willing to accept them. The Pac-12 came out of Thursday saying there are no intentions of expansion at all. Being in agreement with the west coast conference, there is little chance the ACC or Big Ten will listen either.
The Big 12’s only option is to expand its own conference and pray the product is good enough for lucrative television contracts within the next half-decade. Texas and Oklahoma’s departure to the SEC could speed things up but for now, the current TV deal expires after the 2024 season.
One candidate to join the Big 12 according to The Athletic is BYU. Currently an independent school, the Cougars have as big of a following as any school in the country thanks to their religious views. Per the report, BYU drew in around the same viewers per game as the other eight Big 12 schools when appearing on ABC, ESPN, or FOX.
Currently being an independent will work in favor of BYU as well. Unlike Texas and Oklahoma, no buyout fee to a conference could potentially delay a move. The Cougars are currently in a deal with ESPN through the 2026 season after renewing in January 2020. Since the worldwide leader already has a contract with the Big 12, there should be no issue transitioning over.
This would bring the conference’s member total to nine, assuming Texas and Oklahoma leave after this season. One more school would be needed to be added before being considered a Power Five conference again. The American Athletic Conference seems to be the most likely candidate to be poached from.