With the Big 12 officially launching plans to look at expansion, a new report from The Athletic says the league is “seriously discussing” adding BYU as a member.
The report adds that while it is still “very early” in the process, the conference is seeing the value in BYU from a TV perspective. Here are how the numbers stack up, per The Athletic: “Between 2015 and 2019, the median audience Big 12 teams (minus games involving Texas and Oklahoma) drew for 36 games broadcast on ABC, Fox or ESPN was 1.786 million viewers. BYU’s numbers were comparable; the Cougars’ median audience in 16 games broadcast on those channels was 1.64 million.”
This all comes on the heels of Thursday’s news that the Pac-12 is not planning to expand, which means the Big 12 now has a chance to survive. It was also announced on Thursday that the Big 12 has an expansion subcommittee in place.
The subcommittee includes Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt, Baylor AD Mack Rhoades, Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod and Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen. This comes on the heels of the conference hiring Oliver Luck, the former West Virginia AD and XFL commissioner, as a consultant to help with the process.
The group met with Big 12 presidents on Friday morning will have in-person meetings next week involving Big 12 athletics directors and media and television consultants. Hocutt went on to say, “Right now, our complete focus is to make the Big 12 as strong as it can possibly be and I expect that Texas Tech will play a leadership role in that. We’re going to continue to be part of the power-five structure in college athletics.”
The timing for Big 12 expansion is also a major barrier. Oklahoma and Texas are set to join the SEC in 2025, which is when they’re contractually allowed to without paying a buyout of nearly $80 million. However, at least one college football reporter believes the Longhorns’ and Sooners’ departures could come sooner, perhaps as early as the fall of 2022.