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What teams are viable candidates for Big 12 expansion?

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Well, the gang has finally decided to stay together and gobble up all of the television money for themselves.  The theoretical TV money.  As in the process of putting together a lucrative deal for some sort of Big 12 network is still miles away.  Somehow, some way, Dan Beebe was able to put these numbers together on a chalk board and sway the big dogs in this whole situation: The Texas Longhorns.  This always was their game as they called the shots in this whole situation the entire way.

The theoretical "Pac-16" sounds a lot better in theory than what it actually could have turned into.  Would that many people actually have watched that potential network?  It just seemed so big, so bloated.  The Pac-10 hadn't accomplished anything even remotely close to a successful TV deal beforehand, so why would it be any different this time around.  Would all of that money make it to all of the teams?  Probably not, and that's why the Big 12 is sticking with 10 teams.  I won't even get into the whole super-conference Armageddon that has also been averted.

Now with 10 teams, the conference has a lot of decisions to make.  As of right now, they aren't even allowed to have a conference championship game unless they get the NCAA to changes their rules.  Ironically enough, both the Big 10 and the Pac-10 (if they add Utah) will be adding championship games to the end of their conference seasons.

So what will the Big 12 do?  Will they sit back and work out a TV deal?  Or will they expand right away?

It's easier to look at the teams that won't be in Big 12 expansion talks and work our way up.

Who's not going to the Big 12 anytime soon: TCU, SMU, Houston, Rice & Tulsa.  The Big 12 has nothing to gain in terms of exposure by adding any more Texas schools as the market is already saturated by Texas (mostly), Texas A&M, Texas Tech & Baylor.  As for Tulsa, do you really think OU & OSU would allow that to happen?  Not to mention, the Big 12 is looking for schools to fill the north division and you can't break up Texas, Oklahoma & Okie State from the South.

Also, don't believe the Memphis bounty.  Aside from a couple decent seasons in the early 2000s, the Tigers have historically been one of the most losing teams in the nation.  Not to mention Memphis' TV market is only 50th in the nation.

The Candidates

Air Force - A military academy that is going to have good support wherever they travel to or appear on TV.  Have been experiencing a resurgence the past couple years under Troy Calhoun.  But then again, why should the Big 12 teams have to travel to Colorado again if they don't have to?

Arkansas - Rich historic tradition, but haven't been able to win an outright SEC title since they joined the league in 1992.  Logistically, this makes the most sense as the Razorbacks were originally part of the Southwest Conference and are smack dab in the middle of the Big 12.

BYU - In terms of historic success, the Cougars are a good fit right now for the Big 12 to offset their losses.  Large national following, but will be a further trip than Boulder was.  A provision would probably have to be set in so that they could play Utah on a yearly basis in the "Holy War".

Louisville - Program was on the up-and-up before it got a case of the Kragthorpe, even though it seems like Charlie Strong could be the person to get back on track.  Strong basketball program, but would the Big 12 want to expand east of the Mississippi?  #49 TV market.

Cincinnati - Football program is skyrocketing to unheard of success, but can they sustain it?  Yet another successful basketball program and Cincy is the #33 TV market in the nation.

Northern Illinois - Don't laugh.  If you want to talk about TV markets, Chicago is the one you want to tap into.  The question is, however, how much of the Chicago market actually cares about watching the Huskies on TV when they have Notre Dame, Illinois, Northwestern and the rest of the Big 10 to watch?  I'll say it a million times: "If Iowa State can..." That and we have corn.  Lots and lots of corn.  We'll take a closer look at this possibility in the following days.