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Big 12 Expansion: Conference Should Look To Add Two, Not Four

Expansion rumors have been running rampant over the past two weeks, ever since Florida State had been rumored to be interested in leaving the ACC for the Big 12, following ACC's underwhelming deal with ESPN. Ever since, reports have surfaced that Notre Dame has been courted by Texas to join the Big 12, Clemson's Board of Trustees said they would be open to a move, while Miami has stated that they are happy in the ACC.

Still, Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech have all been rumored to be targeted by the Big 12 for conference expansion. Currently, the Big 12 has 10 members. The Big 12 should not look to add four members this summer, but they should look to add two instead, if for nothing else, to get the number of teams to equal the conference name.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to only add two teams this year.

The driving force of college athletics, and, well, with anything, is money. Adding four more schools to the conference may mean extra revenue for the Big 12, but the money also has to be spread around an additional four schools, mitigating the financial gains for the existing members. The Big 12 as it stands is currently safe, especially after inking the Big 12/SEC Bowl game deal. The Big 12 does not need to expand to survive, so if it does expand, money will be at the forefront of any decision.

Further, scheduling could become a problem with 14 teams. The SEC encountered some problems scheduling a 14-member schedule, and consequently are following a 6-1-1 schedule. Six games against division members, one permanent game against a rival in the other division, and one rotating game. This can potentially eliminate some rivalries, and thus, making expansion somewhat lame in the eyes of the fans. If the Big 12 expands to 14 teams, it will encounter the same scheduling difficulties that the SEC faces.

Moreover, nobody knows exactly what the college football playoff system will look like in two years. We know that a playoff system will be used, and it's also unknown how the Big 12/SEC Bowl game will affect the future playoffs. Until more certainty is known about the future of the playoff landscape, the Big 12 should avoid biting off more than it can chew in terms of expansion.

As the reports currently stand, the Big 12 should likely target both Florida State and Clemson to leave the ACC and join the Big 12. Florida State has been looking into the costs of such a move already, and the Clemson Board of Trustees already said that they would be open to offers from other conferences. By adding those two institutions, the Big 12 would solidify itself in the southeast, which would help with recruiting for current members.

Notre Dame, while a huge name, is likely too much of a pain to bother working into the conference. The Irish's NBC television contract does not end for another two years, and Notre Dame has always wanted to maintain independence in college football. At this point, expanding to accommodate Notre Dame seems like more hassle than the benefit.

We'll see how rumors and reports progress through the summer, but it does appear as of today that the Big 12 should aim to add two, not four, schools over the course of the summer.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.