The Big 12 was the anomaly of conference expansion, getting smaller while the power leagues around continued to grow.
Now that the Big Ten has joined the ACC and SEC with 14 teams and the Pac-12 stands steady with 12, there was speculation that the Big 12 would seek to add a couple more teams to its current membership of 10. But apparently, there is no truth to that talk.
According to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, two Big 12 athletic directors—Kansas State's John Currie and West Virginia's Oliver Luck—shot down the notion of expansion when asked about it point blank.
"Expansion is one thing we're not talking about," said Luck.
"We see how strong and productive our league is with 10 members, added Currie. "The camaraderie is really good."
"We would love to be in the Big 12," said Mendenhall. "I would love to be a member of that conference. I think that would make a lot of sense. In fact, if that was your headline, that would be great."
It is no coincidence that BYU wants in—at this specific moment—on a power conference. With the new College Football Playoff, there are questions about the viability of an independent program. Without a conference championship game to participate in, there's a chance such programs could be overlooked and left behind.
If the Big 12 does not want to add new members, as Currie and Luck stated, BYU will have to seek a different course of action. Here are three options proposed by Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk:
2. Work with the Big 12 to establish some sort of relationship similar in structure to the ACC’s deal with Notre Dame. Having five games with BYU on the schedule certainly is not a drain on the Big 12′s non-conference schedule and it provides BYU with some more stability with scheduling. If BYU can even sneak into the Big 12′s bowl line-up the way Notre Dame will in the ACC, that is a bonus.
3. BYU continues as a football independent, hoping to secure scheduling deals with Pac-12 schools (like UCLA) and push for national scheduling. This may urn out to be the most likely scenario, and may still be the best case scenario if the power conferences do not totally split off from the rest of the NCAA.
4. BYU gets left behind in the power shift in college football and rejoins the Mountain West Conference, providing for schedule stability in whatever happens in the future of the college football landscape.
Of those options, the one about a Notre Dame-type deal with the Big 12 is the most intriguing but also the most complicated. It would be difficult to broker such an arrangement, but at this point, doing so might be the only thing that saves BYU from mediocrity.
Unless you guys can think of anything else.
Sound off below if you can.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BleighDAT.
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