* ESPN’s Jake Trotter writes that ESPN obtained a letter from May 17th which University of Central Florida made their case to join the Big 12:
The report also stated that Orlando trumps Cincinnati and Hartford in employment and income, concluding that “Orlando has proven that it is capable of attracting and sustaining economic growth, making it an ideal candidate for joining the Big 12 Conference.”
When asked for comment on the letter and report, UCF vice president for communications and marketing Grant Heston said, “If people are going to talk about UCF and Orlando, we want to ensure the facts are accurate and current.”
The Big 12 presidents and athletic directors met last week and unanimously voted to implement a conference championship game in 2017. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the presidents could hold a vote by the end of the summer on whether to expand.
* ESPN’s Trotter also writes about how we’ve always thought that television markets will determine expansion, but expansion into large television markets with the idea of a conference network gone by the wayside:
But at this point it’s difficult to see the Big 12 pursuing candidates simply on the basis of TV market. Assuming the Big 12 makes it to another TV contract negotiation, those talks will hinge mostly on the strength of the football — and the brands — the conference can deliver.
That’s one reason why the Big 12 ultimately added TCU and West Virginia during the last round of realignment. The Big 12 already had a stranglehold on the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. And West Virginia hardly gave the Big 12 a noteworthy market. Both schools, however, had football traditions that had an appeal that resonated outside Fort Worth and Morgantown.
As a result, neither TCU nor West Virginia has diluted the Big 12. In fact, both school have reinforced the conference, particularly the Horned Frogs, who have generated 23 wins over the last two years.
“We want to make sure (expansion candidates are) not dilutive to what I think is a very strong conference at the present time,” Boren said.
* The Daily Press’ David Teel writes that the ACC and ESPN are discussing a 9 game conference schedule (sound familiar?) in order to increase its inventory and increase the payout from ESPN:
Indeed, nine games are quite possible if, as expected, the ACC and ESPN agree by year’s end to broaden the league’s exposure through traditional (cable) and progressive (online streaming) means.
Furthering the push: With the Big 12 adding a championship game starting in 2017 and the Big Ten expanding its league schedule to nine games this season, the power conferences are moving closer to providing the College Football Playoff selection committee with similar data.
All five will have a title contest in 2017, and an ACC shift to nine league games would leave the Southeastern Conference as the lone holdout at eight.
* CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodds writes that with the addition of a championship game, the Big 12 has a chance to add a marquee game:
Best case for the Big 12: The league matches two teams annually with no more than one loss. That has the best chance of impressing the CFP Selection Committee.
The round-robin format guarantees two undefeated teams cannot meet.
Compare that to the old Big 12: In the conference’s previous 15 championship games, a division winner with at least two losses participated each year.