In this week's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, I place the expansion candidates into tiers, and weigh in on who brings the most to the table from a culinary perspective.
On to the 'bag:
@Jake_Trotter with all these candidate (what is it 20 now?) who are the real serious contenders?
— John Robert (@JJanusik33) August 19, 2016
Trotter: Out of the 20 schools, I feel like there are four tiers for the moment. Tier 1: BYU, Cincinnati, Houston; Tier 2: Connecticut, Central Florida, Colorado State; Tier 3: Memphis, South Florida, Boise State, Tulane. And then Tier 4 is for everybody else.
@Jake_Trotter when will the big12 announce the new schools to be added? And when will they begin play in the big12?
— Eric Clark (@EClarkCincy) August 19, 2016
Trotter: Iowa State president Steven Leath said Thursday that he expects this to be done before Christmas. But I think the Big 12 is hoping to knock this out before its previously scheduled board meeting in October. That has always been the league's goal. As for when the programs could join the Big 12, 2017 would be optimal. That could prove tricky for AAC programs, given the $10 million exit fees and 27-month contractual notice. But there will be room for negotiation to get it done.
@Jake_Trotter how will the big 12 stack up against the non conference P5 teams this year? And do you consider the OU vs UH game P5 caliber?
— Carl Fuchs (@CarlJFuchs) August 19, 2016
Trotter: We're about to find out. In Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa, Stanford, Arkansas, Arizona State, Cal, Pitt, Missouri, BYU, Memphis and Houston, this is the most difficult nonconference schedule the Big 12 collectively has ever faced. The Big 12 complains about a lack of a respect. This is a prime opportunity to earn some.
@Jake_Trotter obviously the food scene is the most important factor in expansion. Do we stay with our reliable BBQ? Or go bold and fresh?
— Tristan McGonigal (@TristyMc) August 19, 2016
Trotter: This is an excellent point, and quite frankly, I'm disappointed the Big 12 didn't list "surrounding eateries" among its core criteria for expansion. We have several tantalizing options too. I love New Orleans fried shrimp po'-boys, so Tulane is an instant contender. I've never actually been to Storrs, but I know firsthand Hartford has tremendous lobster rolls. So UConn is in too. Memphis BBQ obviously is legit. I'm not sure about Colorado State's food, but they bring New Belgium to the equation, so they're a factor. And I know the haters are out there, but this blog has zero tolerance for anyone that disparages Cincinnati's Skyline Chili. The Big 12 already has several big-time BBQ options in the footprint, so I think Cincinnati and Tulane would be my picks for this category.
@Jake_Trotter If you could pick any team out of the power 5 to join the Big 12 which one would it be???
— Tyler Brittain (@TylerBrittain4) August 19, 2016
Trotter: LSU would be great for the Big 12. Logistically, the Tigers make sense, and Louisiana would become an ever greater recruiting hotbed for the Big 12. LSU also would bring tremendous value to the Big 12's television profile, even though New Orleans isn't a huge market. As Big 12 czar, if I could draft any two nonconference-flagship Power 5 programs (assuming, say, the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, USC and Florida State were off limits), I'd snag LSU and Nebraska and call it a day. Of course, this will never happen. But you asked, Tyler.
@Jake_Trotter Does Colorado State have a real chance of getting into the Big 12?
— Tim Baker (@Baker15Tim) August 19, 2016
Trotter: Colorado State's candidacy probably hinges on a four-team grab. If the Big 12 expands by just two, the Rams are a huge long shot. But if the Big 12 opted to go for four teams, Colorado State becomes really interesting. As a solid academic school, with a decent football program, a new stadium and room to grow on and off the field, the Rams have support in certain corners of the league. They're the second-biggest contender to the west of the Big 12 footprint, after BYU.
@Jake_Trotter How much does BYU dominating ticket sales to the Arizona game in Arizona help their chances with Big 12 expansion?
— Brian Stoddard (@CougarYankee) August 19, 2016
Trotter: It can't hurt.