Colorado Buffaloes

Brett McMurphy: Big 12 Will Have ‘At Least 14 Teams, Possibly 16’ by 2024

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On Wednesday, the Pac-12 suffered what could prove to be a fatal blow with reports that Colorado is all but headed to the Big 12, pending a vote on Thursday from the school’s decision-makers.

With the Buffaloes leaving the conference, any hopes of a media rights deal appear to be dead in the water, as a nine-team Pac-12 lacks both the scheduling prowess and overall scope to bring something legitimate to the table.

To make matters worse, the options that remain on the table for the Pac-12 would owe a significant buyout fee in order to jump into a dying conference. San Diego State would owe the Mountain West $34 million to get out of its grant of rights. SMU’s buyout fee would be north of $10 million to leave the American.


In short, the options are starting to fall off the table for the Pac-12. Meanwhile, pending Colorado’s entry back into the conference, the Big 12 will start looking for boarding partner(s) for the Buffaloes.

According to Action Network’s Brett McMurphy, the Big 12 could look to add one, or even three more schools ahead of the 2024 season.

“The Big 12 is going to add another school before 2024,” McMurphy told College Sports on SiriusXM. “They will have 14 teams. Now, who the 14th team is going to be? That’s not so simple.”

McMurphy then went into the options that the Big 12 has to get to an even number. The first, and most obvious choice, is to add another Pac-12 school.

“Their first choice is to get another team from the Pac-12,” McMurphy says. “Obviously, Arizona is the most likely candidate. Is there an agreement? Is it a done deal? Absolutely not. Arizona State and Utah also could be possibilities, but both of those schools have been lukewarm at best about leaving the Pac-12. The question is, how does everybody’s mindset change now that Colorado is gone? It’s easy to say we’re all committed when there’s 10 of you there, but then when there’s nine, how much is that commitment still there? We’ll have to find out.”

If Brett Yormark and Co. can’t get another Pac-12 school to jump ship, they’ll turn to the Group of Five schools, but that has a caveat as well.

“If the Big 12 cannot get a 14th member from the Pac-12, then they will add a Group of Five school, McMurhy continues. “Which Group of Five school? That also is unknown. There’s a handful of schools out there that they would talk to. Obviously, a number of Group of Five schools have issues with their Grant of Rights. Anybody leaving the Mountain West has to pay $34M. I don’t think they would be able to do that. San Diego State flat out said, ‘We can’t pay $34M to go to the Pac-12 with less than one year’s notice.’ Would anybody in the Mountain West be able to do that financially? I don’t think so. UConn has been mentioned. They’ve got a $30M exit fee. Any teams from the American would have to pay in excess of $10M and would have to negotiate that number.”

Either way, the Big 12 isn’t going to play an athletic year with 13 schools. It’s a scheduling nightmare, and quite frankly, the conference seems to have viable options ahead of 2024.

“I am fairly confident that the Big 12 will have at least 14 teams, possibly 16,” McMurphy says. “In a perfect world, if they could get Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah, they would take all of them and get to 16 and stop. But, they will not play the 2024 season with an odd number of teams, whether it’s 14 or 16. The unknown is if that will be another Pac-12 addition or additions, or a Group of Five to get to that even number.”

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