More than anything, what I learned from this expansion poll exercise is you folks care about the concept of expansion ... a lot. I offered my suggestions, you offered thoughts on those, as well as a handful of other combinations.
I heard from a lot of you on this, more than I have on any other singular issue in any offseason and most issues during the season. Here's a sampling of what you had to say:
Dave in Houston, Texas, asked: Make it BYU and TCU for expansion and I'd take it over any of the other options.
Joe P in Las Vegas wrote: David...I think the Big 12 should expand using the old MWC rivals. BYU and TCU. Reason being TCU is on the up and developing a strong fball school and facilities while the fighting mormons of Provo have a HUGE tv market. Not to mention a 60K+ seat stadium that will sell out regularly.
My take: It's an interesting balance of money (BYU >>>> TCU) and football (TCU > BYU), but the only team I think would be almost entirely supported if the league invited it would be BYU. Adding TCU in addition to them might actually work if the league wants another football power a la the Big East and give some added worth to BYU's television network.
Rick in Denison, Texas, asked: Hey DUbbs first off I'd like to say good job on the blog!However, I must say if the Big 12 were going to expand, they would want the best programs possible, with the best markets possible.Are Florida St and Miami possibilities? It sounds crazy, but the current ACC deal isn't overly impressive and they could make more in the B12. Yes, their BB is lacking, but their FB programs have bright futures, plus they would give us all a foot in FL recruiting.I just think AZ and ASU are out of reach due to the new Pac12 deal and the B12 revenue sharing setup, where they would make less.What do you think?
Joshua Maus in Harrisville, Penn. wrote: The Big XII just lost two states to its footprint. Therefore the Big XII should add a state to its footprint. The big 12 should add the state of Florida. Specifically the big 12 should add ucf and usf, 2 thriving division 1 institutions in the state of florida with two major markets in tampa and orlando. Expand the footprint. Expand the conference.
Dan in Rockville, Maryland asked: Would you see UCF as a darkhorse candidate? I ask because we're seeing location play less of a role in conference alignment - like TCU in Big East. I would think that UCF has a lot to offer the Big 12: huge student body (2nd biggest in US), new facilities, 18th biggest market in Orlando, FL recruits, etc. They also matched up well in the past few years against B12 teams like TX and Kstate.
My take: Geography is less of a concern, but that doesn't mean its irrelevant. I don't see the Big 12 ever seriously considering teams in Florida, but I could get behind the idea of UCF and USF joining the league, minus the fact that they're in Florida, which is, you know, kind of a big deal.
Gabe in Des Moines, Iowa, wrote: David,As an Iowa State fan, and a remnant of the former North, I think I speak on behalf of all Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State fans when I say that if the conference expands, it needs to look outside of the state of Texas. As it is, the power in conference obviously lies in the South. That's nothing new, but if this conference is going to have a viable interest in moving forward and expanding that all import footprint, expansion efforts have to be directed toward other states and schools.I'm not saying that TCU and Houston couldn't compete, but adding those schools would not be in the best interest of the rest of the conference.
My take: Very interesting. I hadn't heard this perspective, but there's certainly some merit to it. Nebraska was the only program you heard express concerns about a "Texas-centric" league, but apparently they weren't the only ones who believed that was the case. I'd expect administrators from those four schools to express similar concerns if the Big 12 ever explores inviting new teams.
Marc Masa in Garden Grove, Calif., wrote: I lived in Tucson for 6 years and continue to follow current events in the state; I haven??t heard a whiff of a hint that the AZ state legislature would balk at an ASU-only invite considering UA would remain in the Pac thereby marginalizing any significant financial impact due to the split. Are you assuming state politics would protest??? Cuz you know what happens when you ASS.U.ME.
My take: True. I did just assume that, but if this gets serious, I'm sure issues like that will be examined more closely. I have a hard time believing they'd want to be in separate conferences, but perhaps I'm wrong.
Mark M. in Dallas wrote: Ubben, I voted AZ/AZ State in your poll, but doesn't the Big XII's clear commitment to school owned networks suggest they're trying to land a pair of independents? Specifically, Notre Dame and BYU? I know it seems far-fetched, but I can't see any other conference making the kinds of TV concessions the Big XII is currently making to OU and Texas, even to land Notre Dame.
My take: There's definitely something to this idea. I don't see Notre Dame ever joining the league, but there's certainly some worth in being the league that can provide the Irish with something they can't get anywhere else outside of independence: their own television network. The only way Notre Dame considers it is if we see Texas' network take off, and other Big 12 schools making more than they thought off of third-tier rights, but it's something to keep an eye on.
Lots of interesting suggestions from you all. I appreciate it. Lots to think about. Like I said before, there aren't any "no-brainers" in this whole deal -- the closest thing to it would be BYU, which would come with a whole list of hurdles to jump over before they could become a serious candidate (commitment to independence, ESPN deal, lack of proximity, etc.).
Mike in College Station, Texas wrote: Why not pair BYU with it's natural rival in Utah? Is the AFA really a more attractive or realistic option? Why? Because the pair would then represent two geographic TV markets? I think the quality of Utah's programs, the fan following, national respect, and the classic rivalry with BYU would make them the ideal team to pair with BYU in a Big 12 expansion package. I understand that they just barely moved to the Pac-12, but PAC-12 schools UA and ASU were included as options, and apparently would be a realistic possibility, so why not the less-embedded U of U? BYU and U of U dominated the Mountain West in terms of championships in all sports (#1 and #2, historically) and both bring solid football programs. I would love to see them reunited as a part of the new Big 12. I would imagine that if the vote were taken again with BYU paired with the U of U instead of AFA, that the results would at least be closer. I think UA and ASU might still win the poll, however, getting BYU and the U of U might be more realistic. Thanks for your good work covering the Big 12. Gig 'em!
My take: All legitimate points here. I honestly hadn't thought of Utah, who seems pretty excited about the Pac-12, but yeah, it wouldn't hurt to ask. I have no idea what the prospective worth of Utah vs. Air Force would be, but certainly, the Utes fit in more on the field and on the basketball court than the Falcons.