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Big 12 expansion: It may actually happen

There’s a joke my kid likes… maybe you’ve heard it.

“Pete and Repeat are in a boat. Pete falls out. Who’s left?”

Of course, the answer is repeat. So she tells me the joke again, laughing the whole time because she made daddy fall for the joke. It’s cute and funny at first, but by the 15th time I say repeat it gets really old.

And that pretty much sums up the ongoing saga of Big 12 expansion.

But wait, what’s this? On Tuesday, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced the conference presidents directed him to head in the direction of expansion and start to contact schools who would make good candidates to join. It could be 12 teams. They could get crazy and expand to 14. But it looks like it’s actually going to happen.

Maybe the motto should be “Big 12 Expansion: No, we’re serious this time, honest!”

As you can imagine, this sent shockwaves through the college football world and fueled speculation, again, about who the Big 12 could bring in. Fans of *every* school that’s been mentioned in the past year are once again fired up… and they’ve taken to Twitter.

And it goes on, and on, and on…

But in that last tweet the UConn fan talks about his Huskies making “a pitch” to the Big 12. In the midst of yesterday’s expansion talk came the little nugget that the Big 12 won’t be pursuing teams, but instead, they want teams to pursue them.

That sounds like a great way to set up your conference. It’s about a good of an idea as New Coke, the XFL or jeans shorts. It almost sounds as if the Big 12 is opening up slots to the highest bidder. Who wants to kiss Bevo’s butt the most? Why not just put the invites up on EBAY? Or, as Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle joked…

And that gets us to how all of this impacts the AAC, which can’t be thrilled the Big 12 is open for business. There is simply no way this doesn’t hang over the conference all year because most of the top candidates (whether they make sense or not) currently make their home in the American.

Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, UConn, UCF, USF… all names being brought up in the conversation along with BYU, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State.

So what should the Big 12 do? Call Marty McFly and Doc Brown, see if they can borrow the Delorean, and go back in time to fix the mess the conference created years ago when it let Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas A&M walk out the door. You can’t just replace those types of teams with a who’s who of the who’s not. Even with the hard times Colorado and Missouri have gone through lately, the conference would be better served with those institutions than rummaging through scraps like a raccoon on a hot summer night.

Since time travel isn’t an option, they should grab Cincinnati and Houston.

UC is a pretty safe bet if and when expansion happens. Houston, on the other hand, will get caught up in a political fight because it seems the Texas schools are scared of the momentum the Cougars are creating. Officials will tell you they want to expand the Big 12’s footprint, but that’s a bunch of crap. Houston makes sense geographically and financially, it already has natural rivalries built in and oh by the way, it’s one of the largest media markets in the country. But Heaven forbid the Big 12 tries to strengthen the conference instead of running away from the competition it could create.

What happens next is anyone’s guess. There are major pros and cons of each team on the hypothetical list. Those cons have likely kept the Big 12 from doing something to this point. But with the announcement this week of the ACC Network, reports that Houston’s Athletic Director spoke with the Pac 12 this summer and constant rumors Oklahoma is flirting with the Big 10, maybe Bowlsby and the boys feel pressured to act.

Who knows what the Big 12 will actually do… what Texas will let the rest of the conference do. But after the commissioner’s latest chat the Big 12 actually looks serious. Let the bidding begin and maybe this time Pete won’t fall overboard.

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