In this week's Big 12 Twitter mailbag, we discuss expansion timetables, who has what votes and how much sleep I've been getting lately. On to the 'bag:
@Jake_Trotter is this still going to be announced before the season?— Nate Cunningham (@NW_Cunningham) August 4, 2016
Trotter: The Big 12's plan was never to finish this before the season began. I know there have been reports to the contrary. But that never seemed realistic to me -- nor has it to those actually involved in the decision-making process. I suppose it's possible expansion happens before the season begins. But I think we're still looking at a timetable of something possibly happening in September, with the regularly-scheduled board meeting in October being the absolute final deadline.
@Jake_Trotter Yesterday, Carlton wrote that none of the expansion candidates had the 8 votes necessary to join. Are you hearing the same?— Morty (@al3124) August 4, 2016
Trotter: There's a reason why no expansion candidate has the necessary eight votes -- there's been no vote yet! We're still a ways away from that happening. Have Big 12 schools indicated certain preferences? Sure. But institutional opinions are also still being developed across the league.
Benjamin Draper: Who gets their way in expansion? The networks? Big 12 schools? The expansion candidates?
Trotter: The Big 12 has most of the leverage here. The pro-rata clauses are written into the contracts, so the networks are a bit stuck, though to me there seems to be a lot of middle ground for negotiating (number of expansion candidates, extension of grant of rights, renegotiation of tier 1 and 2 agreements, future network clauses, etc ...). The expansion candidates have zero leverage. There's tremendous demand and very limited supply.
@Jake_Trotter timeline for B12 expansion, and where does Cincinnati sit?— Alex Andrews (@cincybercats) August 4, 2016
Trotter: At this moment, I would place Cincinnati in the top tier, alongside Houston and BYU. UC has viable support within the league -- then again, so do several other candidates, including the likes of Colorado State, Tulane and UCF.
@Jake_Trotter B12's goal for expansion deadline? What's the bigger wrench for expansion: TX politics or networks not agreeing on candidates?— Damian A. Garbero (@damianagarbero) August 4, 2016
Trotter: I would say the biggest obstacle would be eight of the 10 presidents coming to an agreement on how many and which schools to invite. Texas politics are a factor, because they have bolstered Houston's candidacy in a way people elsewhere in the league didn't see coming. But it's also not like Houston is a total deal-breaker to the northern schools, either. There are several options and many different combinations the Big 12 can pursue. I could make compelling cases for and against every candidate out there. That's what has made this rather complicated. The Big 12 has to sift through the factors and come up with a decision everyone in the league can live with.
@Jake_Trotter Are we going about expansion all wrong? Should we look to poach P5 programs rather than scavenge leftovers? (AZ, ASU, Pitt)— christian (@cbake44) August 4, 2016
Trotter: It wouldn't be the worse decision in the world to expand by two now from the Group of 5, then wait and see what happens with the Pac-12, whose grant up rights expire before the Big 12's do. Maybe by then the Big 12 will have, say, a tier 3 opportunity that could entice somebody like Arizona State, especially if the Pac-12 Network continues to be an albatross. Expanding by two now, instead of four, would keep the networks relatively at ease, while statistically improving the league's playoff chances through a divisional format. But it would also keep the Big 12's options open for a home run opportunity down the line (you can always come back and add two more from the Group of 5). As one industry insider told me last month, if Larry Scott can flirt with Texas and Oklahoma, what's to stop Bob Bowlsby from returning the favor down the line?
@Jake_Trotter How many hours of sleep did you average pre-Big 12 drama? How many hours of sleep do you average now? Also, more nightmares?— Daniel Evans (@DanielRyanEvans) August 4, 2016
Trotter: I don't sleep much anymore, but that has more to do with our new baby than the Big 12. Then again, the Big 12 has not improved my quality of life one bit this summer.
@Jake_Trotter rank Big 12 home stadium press boxes: ease of access, quality of food, comfort of seating arrangements, field views, wifi, etc— MK (@yellmk) August 4, 2016
Trotter: 1. Texas Tech, 2. TCU, 3. Kansas State, 4. West Virginia, 5. Baylor, 6. Kansas, 7. Oklahoma State, 8. Iowa State, 9. Texas, 10. Oklahoma. I won't bore you with the reasoning.
@Jake_Trotter do you see a notable difference in social media impressions when you mention particular schools re:expansion?— Anonymous Anonymizer (@JonathanLingo) August 4, 2016
Trotter: BYU fans are definitely the most vocal, at least on my Twitter notifications.
Trotter: See what I mean?