Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Big XII Expansion Preview

The Big 12 conference (or as they like to call it, The Big XII, because Latin and stuff) is currently looking to expand. As part of the process, they invited roughly 20 - the number keeps changing - schools to participate in the interview and talent show portions of the competition this past weekend, including what appeared to be the entirety of the AAC.

At this time, the Big 12 is claiming they want to add 2 schools, bringing them back up to - wait for it - 12, after the defections of schools like Texas A&M, Nebraska, Colorado and Missouri, which practically chained itself to the Big 10's bumper in hopes of getting taken home before being rescued by the SEC, of all conferences. Stung by the defections and by the way the conference's current setup leaves its teams vulnerable in the selection process for the college football playoff, the powers that be in the conference decided to hold an open audition, which is why this process is looking so much like an episode of the Gong Show. A wise school might note that just before the Big 12 said they were taking 2 teams, they said they were taking no teams, and the conference's finances and actions are still titled towards the Texas end of the table, but what the hey - TV money is TV money, and even punching bag status in the Big 12 is worth more per annum than the $3M being paid out by the AAC and the like.

With that in mind, here's the list of schools trying out and why they might or might not get picked

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: They're the Mormon Notre Dame, the only school on the list with a national following. Geographically, they're roughly within the conference's traditional footprint. The school's willingness to join as a football-only member means no expensive trips sending the fencing and equestrian teams to Utah, and they don't have to work around religious concerns when scheduling
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Other schools bristling at the special treatment Texas gets might not want to have any more special cases. They don't bring a large local television market.

SCHOOL: East Carolina
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: The Pirates offer a sort of access into East Coast television markets, and they have a habit of knocking off big name teams in football. Also, every conference needs a team called "the Pirates".
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The North Carolina tv market is already splintered, and ECU's slice of it isn't huge. They're generally terrible at basketball. Their fan base is largely restricted to east of I-95 and certain sports bars in Raleigh.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: If you squint hard enough, they look like they're part of the New York or Boston television markets. Excellent basketball tradition, finally giving Kansas another perennial power to chew on.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: They're awful at football, they don't draw, and Storrs, CT is way the hell and gone from any other school in the conference besides West Virginia. And WVU is probably not going to say great things about the school that was left behind when they ditched the conference back in the day.

SCHOOL: Cincinnati
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Ohio ha s a lot of television sets in it, and the Big XII would like some of those watching its games. The basketbaall team is first rate, while the football team is consistently good - but not good enough to threaten any of the powers that be. Urban Meyer gave them a recommendation. They're a natural geographic rival for West Virginia.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED:  There are a lot of television sets in Ohio, and they're all tuned in to Ohio State. Cincy is good enough to pull the occasional upset but bad enough to drag down your strength of schedule otherwise. Geographic footprint of "one moderate sized city in sourthern Ohio" does not scream "new revenue streams".

SCHOOL: Arkansas State
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Old-timey conference officials from the days of the Big 8 and the Southwest Conference may mistake them for Arkansas.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: You've got to be kidding me.

SCHOOL: Temple
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Philadelphia is a huge media market, and a big chunk of Penn State fandom is looking for a landing place. The basketball team is quality and the football team's been solid since the start of Al Golden's run. Did I mention the size of the Philadelphia television market?
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Because they're Temple, and they're not allowed to have nice things.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Because everyone wants an excuse to go to sunny San Diego as often as possible.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The San Diego TV market is basically eaten by the LA one. Not a lot of geographic room for expansion of the fan base. It's been a long goddamn time since Marshall Faulk

SCHOOL: Houston
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Big city, big market. Houston fits nicely with the league's geographic footprint while still adding something useful in terms of eyeballs. Football team is surprisingly good; basketball at least has name recognition. Phi Slamma Jamma, anyone?
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Because the last thing any of the other schools in the league want is more goddamn Texas. 

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Like OK State, they've got their own personal billionaire backing the football program. Memphis is a toe dipped into SEC territory. If you're going to pick a school from a city instead of a state, might as well be one with good BBQ.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Memphis football just lost the coach and the QB who briefly made them relevant. Before that, we're talking, what, DeAngelo Williams? 

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: They're in Florida. 
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The football program has completely cratered and the fan base is more interested in the Dolphins.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: They're in Florida. And they're really, really big.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The football program has completely cratered and the fan base is more interested in the Buccaneers. And if that's not damning, I don't know what is.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: They're in Texas. Also, rice always makes a nice side dish.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Because if they're going to add a Texas school, it's going to be one that has some familiarity with how to play the American sport of "foots ball." Which is to say, Houston.

SCHOOL: Colorado State
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: The Big 12 misses Colorado but won't admit it, so they're going to just write bad poetry and date a school that kind of looks like Colorado.: 
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The days when occasionally picking off U of C was a signature win are long gone. 

SCHOOL:Boise State
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: For a while there, BSU was really, really good. Also, they have Smurf Turf.  
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Oklahoma would probably blackball them just for bowl game trickeration revenge. BSU is just good enough to possibly beat the conference powerhouses on a semi-regular basis and They Can't Have That Sort Of Thing. It's a hell of a trip from West Virginia to Boise.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Well, it's an awesome party school. Also, they regularly lose to ACC teams by double digits. 
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The last thing the Big 12 needs is an awesome party school. The consideration of Tulane for membership in the old Big East was apparently the tipping point for ripping apart the conference once and for all; does the Big 12 really want to handle that kind of karmic baggage? Heavy, man, whoah.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: They're years removed from the death penalty for football.  The basketball team just finished up sanctions of its own! Larry Brown! What could possibly go wrong?
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: The possibility of having to deal with Craig James in any capacity whatsoever is enough to put the kibosh on this right now.

SCHOOL: Northern Illinois
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT:  NIU gives them inroads on the Chicago market. 
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Illinois - all of it - can barely keep its head above water in the Big 10. Now transplant just part of Illinois to the Big 12. It's not a pretty picture.

SCHOOL: New Mexico
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Albuquerque is a growing market. The geographic footprint matches up. Their basketball stadium has a badass name. It's easy to get there - just remember to make the left turn.  
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Nowhere near big enough. Yet.

WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Vegas, baby!Who wouldn't want to see OSU man-child coach Mike Gundy hulking out down the Strip the night before a game? 
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: Let's start with the stadium shenanigans, particularly those as pertains to the NFL maybe coming to town. Getting in bed with Sheldon Adelson is always a tricky thing. And God help us all when Kansas hits the Strip for the first time. 

SCHOOL: Air Force
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: It would be a great distraction from the F-35? 
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED: They run a distant 3rd in the "service academy national fanbase" category. Football runs that weird-ass offense which is a pain to prepare for and could lead to unwanted upsets. Omnipresent fear of getting the crap bombed out of you if you beat them.

SCHOOL: Hogwarts
WHY THEY'RE A GOOD FIT: Huge endowment, can be reached by rail travel, Stadium seating capacity is magically huge.
WHY THEY WON'T GET PICKED:  No one else's Quidditch team can actually fly, leading to them all being made fun of by a bunch of scrawny wizardy high schoolers. Regular incursions by Voldemort make scheduling difficult.

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