Report: Expansion decision may come before season
The longer the Big 12 puts off its decision regarding expansion, every Bulls game -- from Towson to Temple -- becomes a referendum on their Power Five viability.
Now, it appears it may not come to that.
CBS Sports, citing three anonymous sources "with knowledge of the ongoing process," reported the Big 12 wants to finalize its decison on expansion before the start of the 2016 season. The sources indicated league officials don't want the issue to overshadow the season itself, according to the report.
If the expansion decision is football-driven, as most presume it is, that may not bode well for the Bulls.
A prevailing theory is, a delay in the decision gives USF -- a trendy pick to win the American Athletic Conference's East Division -- more time to fortify its football brand and improve home attendance. Consider how appealing a Bulls upset of FSU -- before a likely sellout crowd on Sept. 24 -- would be to Big 12 honchos watching.
A short-term decision means USF would have to sell itself despite one winning record in the last half-decade (last season's 8-5 mark), feeble attendance figures (26,578 average home attendance in 2015) and stagnant philanthropic support ($2.5 million in the 2014-15 academic year, according to USF Athletics' five-year strategic plan).
At that point, the school's academic stature, fertile recruiting back yard and media market size (11th nationally according to Nielsen) would be its strongest selling points.
The expansion issue is expected to dominate conversation at the AAC's Summer Kickoff and Media Days, set for Monday and Tuesday in Newport, R.I.