That’s right, I said it. In this week’s upcoming Big Ten championship game, I should be rooting for the team I despise above all others to win and check its ticket to the inaugural College Football Playoff. In fact, I should also root for all the other teams I so regularly root against- Alabama, Florida St., and Oregon. If these four teams win, we think the Big XII has a good shot at being locked out of the playoff (despite what Nate Silver says).
The reason for this change is that the general consensus is if the Big XII finds itself the odd power five conference out of the playoffs, it will feel more pressure to add a conference championship game to help bolster the odds that a Big XII team will get into the playoffs. This, of course, would mean expanding to at least twelve teams- probably BYU’s best chance of getting into a power five conference.
BYU is among the short list of likely schools to be picked up during the next wave of expansion, but it is hardly a lock. While it would seem logical for the Big XII to expand westward (assuming they are going to be able to steal any schools from the B10 or SEC), they have already committed to the east by picking up West Virginia. Even if they are not able to pry any of the ACC (often viewed as the weakest of the power five) teams away due to the new $52 million exit fee, they still have Cincinnati and possibly UConn patiently awaiting their turn. Geographically this doesn’t make much sense, but it allows the Big XII to expand into new, big markets.
On the other hand, BYU does have plenty going for it. It stacks up at or near the top of the Big XII in enrollment, average GPA, sports offered, facility sized, and probably more. And though it is a little farther removed, BYU has a national fan base (with more fans than either Cincy or UConn). If it can find the right pairing, perhaps the Big XII would prefer to start moving westward (assuming they expand) where there are a few more available options in case they continue expanding down the road. Some possible BYU pairings are (in no particular order):
- Colorado St. helps them regain a presence in the state but not much else
- Air Force also in Colorado is decent, but the Falcons are really loyal to the Mountain West
- UNLV provides good basketball and access to a large market
- New Mexico has solid basketball and much closer proximity to the rest of the conference
- Boise St. brings the only other real football program and a growing basketball program, but they are very distant from the rest of the conference and don’t reside in a very large market