With just 10 teams in its conference – and after getting left out of the first College Football Playoff and getting blown out in the second – the Big 12 is looking to expand. This is, undeniably, a smart move, especially with Texas still rebuilding and with Baylor likely to regress in the coming years in the wake of the Art Briles scandal.
“Adding two more teams, two prominent teams, would really help to strengthen that conference,” NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Oklahoma got to the semifinals last year and they had a great run last year. It was benefitted by the fact that Baylor was good, TCU was good, Oklahoma State was 10-0 at one point. So adding two more teams could only help and strengthen that conference.”
Texas, interestingly enough, was staunchly opposed to expansion but is now in favor of it. Baldinger is not sure what led to the Longhorns’ change of heart.
“I don’t really have anything on that,” he said. “I don’t know the inner workings of what was going on in Austin there and why they flipped, but when you look at the landscape of college football, everybody else has a minimum of 12 teams and they all have championship games. I think if they want to stay competitive and if they want to be in the running for the amount of money that sits there waiting to be grabbed if you can get to the Final Four, just financially it makes sense to try and increase the number of teams in the conference. Now the one benefit that they’re always going to say is with 10 teams, everybody plays everybody. There’s one true champion. That slogan, it worked last year. It worked to Oklahoma’s strength last year. But really, I think going forward, they’ve got to try to add two more teams.”
Houston, BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis, Colorado State, Central Florida, South Florida and Connecticut are among the schools being considered for Big 12 expansion. Houston, especially, would be a strong candidate for a league as offensive-minded as the Big 12.
“Nine of the 10 teams in the Big 12 are going to return their quarterbacks,” Baldinger said. “So if you look at what Patrick Mahomes can be, what Mason Rudolph is, what Baker Mayfield is, you look around the conference and the quarterback play is pretty strong. We already know the offenses are pretty darn good in the Big 12. And when you return a lot of the coordinators and the quarterbacks, the offenses could be really prolific this year in that conference.”