Big XII now looking to expand

Probably a good idea to try, as a defensive measure if nothing else.

The Big 12’s next step is clear after the early exit of Texas and Oklahoma was agreed upon Thursday night. The conference now plans to aggressively pursue expansion in some form, sources tell CBS Sports.

This is the culmination of a three-pronged vision put forth by commissioner Brett Yormark once he took office in August 2022. The first two steps — negotiating a new TV deal and resolving the Texas-Oklahoma situation — have been achieved. His full attention now turns to adding more teams to the Big 12.

Whether it will be accomplished is another issue. However, in Yormark’s short history leading the league, it’s proven best not to bet against him. Almost immediately after USC and UCLA announced they were leaving for the Big Ten, the Big 12 showed interest in the Pac-12’s four corners schools (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah).


More recently, Yormark has advocated for Gonzaga joining as a basketball-only member. Even though the financial gain for the Big 12 would be minimal by adding the Zags, Yormark sees a future increase in college basketball rights as streaming giants get more involved in sports. Gonzaga has options (the Pac-12 and Big East) as it appears motivated to finally make a move to major conference.

The reason for any Big 12 expansion: moving West. Yormark seeks game inventory in the Pacific Time Zone, which would allow the once Midwest-based league to stretch from coast to coast. More importantly, it would give the Big 12 a presence in all four primary television “windows” — noon, 3:30, primetime and late night (based on the Eastern Time Zone).

Going forward, the SEC and Big Ten will dominate those first three windows. Having a presence in the fourth window would give the Big 12 some level of exclusivity. (ESPN is also interested in partnering with the Pac-12 for late-night games.)

While it’s not clear whether the Big 12 could get pro rata (equal value of $31.66 million per year) for any new members, it may not matter that much. Schools are desperate to improve their standing in what might be the last round of realignment for the next decade.

For example, industry sources have speculated both SMU and San Diego State might accept less than a full share if they join the Pac-12. SDSU remains a candidate for the Big 12 if a Pac-12 move falls through. CBS Sports reported this week a new Pac-12 TV deal may hinge on adding those two schools.

Any Big 12 expansion continues to revolve around that Pac-12 TV deal.

See here for the last update. Basically, whether the Big XII can poach these Pac 12 schools will likely determine whether the PAC 12 can continue as an entity or go the way of the Southwest Conference. If they can hold onto those four schools and maybe add the two others mentioned, they’re still viable for now. Other than maybe Gonzaga as basketball-only – which might lead to scheduling weirdness unless they can get a second school with a similar sports profile to join then – it’s not clear to me what the other attractive options for the Big XII are. On the other hand, in the immediate aftermath of UT and OU bailing out there was speculation that the Big XII might not be long for this world, so at least they seem to be in better shape than they were a year or so ago. Until further notice, though, the wolf is presumed to be at the door. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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