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Report: BYU Being 'Seriously' Discussed as Big 12 Expansion Candidate

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 27, 2021

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The Big 12 is reportedly looking into the possibility of adding BYU to the conference after losing both Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC beginning in 2025.

According to Max Olson and Andy Staples of The Athletic, the Big 12 is "seriously discussing" the possibility of BYU as a replacement for one of its big departures, although the talks are "very early in the process."

BYU has been an independent in football since 2011, but it was previously part of the Mountain West Conference, Western Athletic Conference, Skyline Conference, Mountain States Athletic Conference and Rocky Mountain Conference.

Olson and Staples noted that the Big 12 is hard at work to find potential new members since the conference is set to drop down to only eight teams when Oklahoma and Texas leave.

As part of those efforts, Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades, Iowa State president Wendy Wintersteen and Kansas chancellor Douglas Girod have formed an expansion subgroup.

Several factors could make BYU an ideal fit in the Big 12, including the fact that it has experienced a great deal of success in football.

The Cougars won a national championship back in 1984, and they have won 10 or more games in a season six times since 2006. That included an 11-1 mark last season, concluding with a win over Central Florida in the Boca Raton Bowl.

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BYU has also played in a bowl game and finished with a .500 or better record in 15 of the past 16 seasons.

It was also noted by Olson and Staples that BYU has proven to be a draw on television, which could make it a valuable addition.

From 2015-19, BYU averaged 1.64 million viewers per game in 16 games broadcast on ABC, Fox or ESPN. That wasn't far behind the Big 12 average of 1.786 million during that same span.

Also, BYU averaged 682,000 viewers in 20 games on ESPN2, ESPNU, Fox Sports 1 or Fox Sports 2, while Big 12 games averaged only 482,000 viewers on the same channels.

It is possible interest could be mutual since BYU wants to be in a Power 5 conference as well, per Olson and Staples, although it is unlikely any official moves will be made in the near future.

On Thursday, the Pac-12 announced it was not pursuing expansion "at this time," which was a substantial win for the Big 12.

That means the Pac-12 won't try to poach any of the Big 12's teams, plus the Pac-12 conceivably would have been the Big 12's main rival in terms of recruiting BYU.

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