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Big 12 Expansion: A Look at the "Likely" Candidates

Big 12 expansion is all the rage.

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 expansion is all the rage.

You've likely read dozens of posts about the pros and cons of expansion. I've already written one about where we should put teams if we expand.

Today however, I want to look at the four teams I keep seeing mentioned as the most likely candidates if the league expands: BYU, Cincinnati, UCONN, and Colorado State.

Let me just say upfront, I believe the real decision lies with whether or not a Big 12 Network happens. No network. No expansion.

But we aren't here to talk about that. It's about those four candidates. I did some digging into their records over the past few years. What I found proved the point everyone is making; there is no obvious candidate.

Lets break this down into a few categories:

team vs BIG12 since 2000 P5 since 2008 Overall since 2008
BYU 16-29 5-6 15-24 71-33
Cinci 11-24-2 5-9 24-19 72-32
UCONN 4-9 4-9 18-24 45-55
CSU 5-28 0-8 5-16 42-56

Looking at these numbers, it makes sense that everyone thinks BYU and Cincinnati are the two best candidates.

But there's something about these four candidates that makes me think that IF (and it's still a "BIG IF") the league expands we won't see both BYU and Cinnci added. You wouldn't consider UConn and CSU if they weren't intended to be partners for BYU or Cincinnati. It's not like the league is worried the top two candidates might say no if invited. So that makes me think the league intends to lean either East or West.

So under that theory, which is a better option? Cincinnati and UConn or BYU and CSU?

I go with the first option based purely on potential. There is no team here that comes in and wins right away. So which two are best set up for success?

I think BYU has limitations as to how successful it can be. For one, I think they would have a hard time getting a lot of the top athletes due to the religious restrictions at the school. People think more highly of the program because we remember the exciting upset wins at the start of the last few seasons. And it's not like they've been playing a Power 5 conference schedule since they went independent in 2011. They average 5 games against Power 5 a season over the last 5 years. Even the SEC plays more a year than that (zing). And there is nothing about Colorado State that makes me think they can become anything more than another Kansas.

Cincinnati however was on a run of successful seasons. They were 47-18 between 2008 and 2012 (that's with a 4-8 season in 2009). The dip in wins started in 2013. That's two years after the Big East started to fall apart and Cinnci was left behind amidst all the conference realignment. To me Cincinnati has the best chance for real success. Big 12 money and recruiting could allow them to recover back into a successful program after a few years. As for UConn, they've been bad for awhile, but I still think they have more potential for success than Colorado State.

If the Big 12 were to expand, who is the team you'd most like to see added?