Chuck Neinas says 10 is enough. An anonymous Big 12 source says otherwise. The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel reports that he was told the Big 12’s stance on staying at 10 teams after adding West Virginia and TCU to replace the departing Missouri and Texas A&M might not be the final plan after all. Instead, the Big 12 might be open to adding an 11th team in the University of Louisville to bolster its geographic reach to the (Big) East and gain better scheduling ability for the long-term.
Adding Louisville has always been a back-burner option for the BIg 12 for the last several weeks, as they’ve been bandied about along with Brigham Young, Cincinnati, Southern Methodist and several others. Given the commitment that the Big 12 now has all the way to West Virginia, it’s important that any future addition also lean eastward considering travel costs. It also bolsters your impact in that area.
Tramel also rightly points to the Cardinals’ success across several sports — both men’s and women’s — but it’s football that’s guiding this game. It’s not since Bobby Petrino was calling the shots a few years ago that Louisville mattered much on the national scene, but it at least displayed a sign of life that the team could rise alongside the powers-that-be with the right head coach in place.
If anything, adding another team sends a message about stability in a time when the Big 12 has looked incredibly fragile. It’s not on the verge of falling apart a la the Big East, but is that even the comparative category you want to be in in the first place? The SEC, ACC and others are moving toward 14 or even 16 teams. The Big 12 would do well to not live on the edge of instability again.