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How many schools are in the Big Ten? Are you sure?

Is conference re-alignment and expansion heading for another round? Will the Big Ten be a part?

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NCAA Football: Big 12 Conference-Media Day
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

You said 14, right?

And you’re right. At least for now.

But the Big 12, with it’s ten schools (a least they can’t make jokes about the Big Ten = 14) is talking expansion. And they’re talking from a position that some would say is desperation.

Of all the P5 conferences, the Big 12 is the smallest and the weakest, in terms of money, numbers, and influence. And there are more than a few people within the conference who feel that other conferences (read B1G and SEC) could look to the south and west to start picking off its members to strengthen their own positions.

The Superconference

Before, and as, the Big Ten, PAC 12, and SEC were expanding, there were a lot of folks who foresaw the future of college football as four, 16-team conferences (Do the math: 4 x 16 = 64, which is - TA DA! - the number of real teams in the NCAA hoops tournament. Coincidence?) There are those who still would like to see that or believe it will happen. But maybe not.

And the recent announcement of an ESPN-ACC Agreement on a conference network, along with the extension of its Grant of Rights, solidifies the ACC and prevents anyone from that conference moving any time soon.

Including Notre Dame as part of the ACC, there are 55 schools in the P5 outside the Big 12. The Big 12 (nee SWC/Big 8) has had its issues, losing at various times Nebraska, Texas A & M, Missouri, Arkansas, and Colorado. It couldn’t have a championship game with only ten schools. It had really good football teams get snubbed by the CFP. Bottom line: it was a weak sister among the P5. And with the Big Ten getting a huge TV deal and the ACC Network coming in 2019, the Big 12 is nervous that they could - could - be left out. Or be relegated to the status of the American.

The Big 12 is looking for members

And members are looking back, and have been for a while. Several schools have been actively soliciting that membership. And no one seems embarrassed by the blatant selling of themselves to the Big 12.

Who are the players?

Much of the attention has been on several schools in the AAC, along with BYU. Many observers feel that Cincinnati is a lock, particularly as a partner for West Virginia.

The others are up for grabs, but no one seems to be excluding anyone from consideration.

Okay, maybe Cincy isn’t a lock from Brando’s perspective, but they do seem to be on most lists for Big 12 expansion.

And if that happens, along with say Memphis and Houston, what happens to the AAC? Lose Cincinnati, Memphis, and Houston? Leaving UCF, USF, UConn, and Tulane to fend for themselves. Of course, UConn is actively looking and there are a number of people who feel the Huskies could also make the Big 12 cut along with Colorado State and Boise State.

So what about a preemptive strike?

You’re Kansas. Or Oklahoma. Do you want to be in a conference that includes Memphis? Or Cincinnati? You were once part of the Big 8, a noble and history-rich conference. Memphis? What if you start to think about what that means from a prestige standpoint.

These are U.S. News & World Report rankings. Memphis’ rank wasn’t published. Cincinnati is ranked 140. Houston is 187, USF 156, UCF 168. How do you think your AAU-ranked faculty is going to view that?

Or Texas. You are the big dog. And to Texans, the only dog. You have the Longhorn Network, fertile recruiting grounds, rabid fans. Ya want Houston sharing that?

Could the Big Ten and SEC decide to raid the Big 12 early, go to 16 teams, and in essence create the P4?

Tell me what you think of this alignment:

East Division: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers

West Division: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Texas, Wisconsin

Kansas and Texas are both AAU members, the academic piece that the Big Ten covets. The Jayhawks bring hoops (and hopefully crossover games for Rutgers) and the Longhorns bring football prowess, tons of their own money, and more places to recruit. Not to mention the Nos. 5 and 10 TV markets in Dallas-Ft. Worth and Houston.

Impact on Rutgers

Money: More money, as the addition of both schools enhances the Big Ten brand in both sports. Can you say contract re-negotiation?

Competition: We get to play Purdue in football every year.

Travel: The schedule would have to be tweaked, but there would likely be fewer crossover games (three now, two if it happens) and that’s not a bad thing.

Teams/sports: Texas sponsors 20 sports, Kansas 18. Both are a little less than the Big Ten average. But you get a big bump in baseball with Texas, a sport that the B1G is building.

The rest of the Big 12 and the SEC

Some folks think that if Texas bolts, there’s little reason for Oklahoma - and then Oklahoma State - to stay behind. The SEC could be good landing spots, following the lead Mizzou and Texas A&M.

While some feel big shakeups and realignment is over, it may not be...just yet.