Ranking Candidates For Next Wave Of Potential Big 12 Expansion

Jul 28, 2023, 2:28 PM

Big 12 Expansion, Candidates, Washington Oregon Big Ten...

Sizing up potential Big 12 expansion. Where would Oregon and Washington rank? (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Big 12 expansion is a hot topic after adding Colorado.

The addition of the Buffs brings the Big 12’s membership to 13 teams in 2024. It seems unlikely that the league would have an odd number of teams for next year.

The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy told the KSL Sports Zone’s Hans & Scotty G on the Big 12, “They’re not going to stay at 13. The next question, I’m sure, is, ‘Who’s number 14?’ That is an unknown.”

We’re all wondering who that 14th team could be for next year.

Ranking potential Big 12 expansion candidates after Colorado move

Let’s pour over the possibilities with my ranking of potential Big 12 expansion candidates. From the best to the buy low prospects.

1. Oregon

The Ducks would be a massive coup for the Big 12. In the 21st century, the Ducks have become a national brand in college football. Autzen Stadium aligns nicely with the Big 12 in terms of capacity crowds that make Saturdays in the fall an event.

Oregon also has excellent basketball programs that would enhance the strongest basketball league in America.

2. Arizona

There’s an argument to make Arizona number one on this list. But if you’re Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark, you dream big and go for the Ducks if you can get them. Arizona would be an excellent addition to the Big 12 because they have a blueblood basketball program.

Wildcat fans always bring loads of fans to Pac-12 Basketball Tournaments; they’d probably still find a way to make their presence felt in Kansas City for Big 12 Tournaments. Plus, the football product has always had the potential. Head coach Jedd Fisch is starting to realize the potential by landing some talented recruiting classes.

3. Washington

Washington has an outstanding football history. It’s the best among the remaining PAC-12 members. You have to wonder if the Seattle market would ever get on board with the Huskies competing in the Big 12.

The Huskies have been in the PAC/PCC since they launched their football program in 1916. Going from the west coast to a national league centered in the Midwest is a significant change for fans with many pro sports options.

4. Utah

If you based things on the fake world of social media, Utah would be the most polarizing candidate on this board. The biggest asset to Utah joining the Big 12 is a football program that will enhance the on-field product. Plus, they give the Big 12 a signature rivalry with BYU. TV networks love rivalries that pull in big ratings regardless of records. Put the nastiness of BYU/Utah on a Power Five stage annually; this state and the Big 12 markets will likely be tuning in yearly.

Having BYU in the Big 12 already could also hurt Utah. Does Yormark want to tap into other markets? He’s made it clear he wants a conference from coast-to-coast and to get into a fourth timezone. BYU and Colorado both deliver late-night opportunities in the mountain time zone already.

5. Arizona State

The biggest attraction to Arizona State would be the Phoenix market. But, like Washington, would that market care about ASU in the Big 12? The Sun Devils have seen attendance dip over the last five years at football games by 11%. That’s with USC and UCLA in the PAC. Can anyone expect the gate receipt to improve if it was matchups against Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas? I’m skeptical.

The potential has always been there for the Sun Devils, but everyone’s been saying that since they left the WAC for the PAC-8 five decades ago.

6. UConn

UConn has powerhouse basketball programs that could give the Big 12 some presence in the New York market. Brett Yormark is a New York guy. He created events at Rucker Park for the league and held a media blitz in NYC last year. That market matters to him.

The downside is UConn football. There was an uptick under Jim Mora in year one, but if their history indicates, they would be a team that drags down the Big 12’s football metrics. But their basketball programs and market make them intriguing.

7. Oregon State/Washington State

These are the two programs that everyone has deemed with no options if the Pac-12 folds. Would they listen to a lifeline from Yormark and the Big 12? TV networks probably wouldn’t want to kick in the pro-rata clause for either, but it’s that fourth timezone.

Oregon State has already publicly expressed its support for staying in the Pac-12. That could be a sign they don’t have any other options, so what are they supposed to say?

8. San Diego State

The Aztecs want the Pac-12 badly. They were telling football players over the past year to expect an invite. That invite never came as the Pac-12 continues to work through a media rights deal. The interest in the Big 12 is unknown.

San Diego State is locked into the MWC until 2025, or they could pay the MWC $34 million to get out in 2024. The Aztecs would give the Big 12 access to the Pacific timezone, a California market, another great basketball brand, plus a football program that has proven to win consistently in the MWC after BYU, Utah, and TCU left.


Brett Yormark loves the idea of “tent pole events” in the Big 12. What better place to deliver marquee events than Las Vegas? UNLV’s market, playing at Allegiant Stadium, and the history of its basketball brand are what make them intriguing.

From the football side, the Rebels are comparable to UConn.

10. SMU

SMU would be a better option than Memphis, in my opinion. The Mustangs have SWC ties with TCU, Baylor, Houston, and Texas Tech. Adding SMU would also make it clear that DFW (Dallas-Fort Worth) is Big 12 country as the SEC looks to make inroads in that market with the addition of Texas to the league.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’scoverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

Take us with you wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from UUtah’ssports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Are you on Threads yet? Let’s connect, give us a follow @kslsports.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

College Sports

BYU Football, Fall Camp, Kalani Sitake...

Mitch Harper

24 Thoughts On BYU Football Entering Fall Camp

On July 24, for the 2024 BYU football season, BYU Insider Mitch Harper shares 24 thoughts on the Cougs.

10 hours ago

BYU Basketball | Xavion Staton...

Mitch Harper

BYU Basketball Makes Top Six Cut For Four-Star Center Recruit

BYU is in the mix for one of the nation's top center recruits.

13 hours ago


Michelle Bodkin

Utah, BYU, Utah State Represented In East-West Shrine Bowl 1000

All three major colleges in the state of Utah- Utah football, BYU, and Utah State are represented on the Shrine Bowl top 1000 players list.

17 hours ago

BYU Football, QB Competition, Jake Retzlaff...

Mitch Harper

BYU Players Lay Out Positives From Open QB Competition

BYU football players see good things emerging from the quarterback position entering fall camp.

17 hours ago

Utah State wide receiver Micah Davis...

KSL Sports

60 in 60: #28 Utah State’s Micah Davis (Wide Receiver)

The countdown is on for Hans & Scotty’s 60 in 60 for the 2024 college football season. Coming in at No. 28 is USU wide receiver Micah Davis.

19 hours ago

Jimmer Fredette, Olympics, 3x3...

Mitch Harper

Jimmer Fredette Set To Become Team USA 3×3 Pioneer At Olympics

Will "Jimmermania" make an appearance in Paris?

21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


KSL Sports

Utah Hockey Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Want to get the latest info on Utah's newest sports franchise? Sign up for the Utah Hockey newsletter!


KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Ranking Candidates For Next Wave Of Potential Big 12 Expansion