While this is low probability, Big 12 expansion to 12/14/16 cannot be entirely ruled out.
If the Big 12 goes to 12, my bet is that UCF/USF will be the top choices, despite all the noises from Austin about Big 12 expansion being a non-starter without UH. It was all meaningless babble, in hopes that UH would drop its opposition to UTH.
Frankly, I believe that political support for UH to join the Big 12, has probably hurt UH more than it helped. I do not see the non-Texas programs being particular pleased with Politicians in Austin making demands. What’s to keep them demanding that SMU or Rice be added if the Big 12 grew to 14? Yes SMU is a private program, but it still has powerful supporters and alumni. The more Texas programs you add to the Big 12, the more power Texas politicians have to call the shots.
If/when Big 12 goes to 14, UH and Cincy seem to be best candidates. Also having 5 Texas programs in a conference of 14 will be more palatable to the non-Texas programs.
I think going to 16 presents a problem. Despite people seeing Memphis as a possible candidate, it’s not. It’s a program from a small state, in SEC country. Colorado State, may work, or maybe UConn, but both aren’t all that attractive.
Plus I have visited some Big 12 boards and UT/OU fans are generally not too supportive of having their programs being partnered with G5 programs.
So I think the best odds are OU and UT bolt. I think it may be easier for UT to leave behind TT, than it will be for OU to leave behind OSU. Or for KU to drop KSU.
Despite UT having turned down Pac in the past, I think the PAC will jump at the chance to add UT and OU, even if it means accepting TT and OSU. UT and OU will have huge power in the Pac.
Now, if UT moves to B1G, it will (as someone pointed out on this board earlier) still remain powerful, just won’t be as powerful as it is in the Big 12. I think UT fans and administration will be willing to make the trade off. The benefits of being in the Big 10 far exceed any loss of power.
I would say UT heads to either B1G or Pac, the ACC makes least sense, because it places UT on an island (even if TT/UH accompany UT), however a switch to the PAC with the Texoma, or a jump to the B1G with KU (although KU may have KSU to worry about, politically that is) or even on its own make the best sense. The ACC make the least sense.
Regardless, it’s a sure bet that the Big 12 is toast! Baylor, ISU, KSU, TT, OSU all better start worrying about it, and how they can latch on to their respective big brothers and hope that will be sufficient to protect them. WVU lands in the ACC so they will be ok.
The other possibility is that the smaller Big 12 programs agree to let the conference return to its previous way of unequal revenue sharing. Normally one would say this causes instability, but that’s only the case if the programs receiving smaller payouts have alternatives.
You could half the payouts to TT, KSU, OSU and Baylor, they may cry and complain, but that’s about all. At even $18-20 million a year they would be far better off financially than any G5 program.