EASTERN BIG 12 EXPANSION
West Virginia’s move to the Big 12 came with financial burdens on the university’s non-revenue sports. Expansion to 12 teams, with new members added to the east and a split into divisions, could help offset some of the cost.
Schools in the east also offer the possibility of more exposure — emphasis on possibility.
Location: Storrs, Connecticut
TV Market: Hartford-New Haven (No. 30)
Home Venue: Rentschler Stadium (44,000)
Undergraduate Enrollment: 18,395
Connecticut’s an interest target. It’s seemingly one of the more realistic, though not necessary the most logical given football drives the discussion. The Huskies have only played in FBS at the turn of the millennium, and their success since doing so has been fleeting.
Nevertheless, Connecticut seems to be one of the more realistic suggestions. Credit the school’s four men’s basketball championships, or the prowess of its women’s hoops program. UConn women’s basketball would certainly be an attractive addition to a league featuring powerhouses Baylor and Oklahoma.
The suggestion UConn taps into the New York market is dubious, but the Hartford-New Haven television market still ranks a respectable 30th. And really, what has conference realignment ever been based on other than reaching new TV subscribers?
TV Market: Philadelphia (No. 4)
Home Venue: Lincoln Financial Field (68,532)
Undergraduate Enrollment: 28,408
Marc Narducci of The Inquirer Daily News pitched a reasonably persuasive argument for Temple tthe Big 12.
The Owls give West Virginia a nearby counterpart, and the Big 12 a presence in one of the nation’s largest TV markets. Moreover, the Philadelphia sports scene is among the more passionate in the nation, and could learn to embrace Big 12 football almost as vehemently as it has the Eagles.
Sold-out games against Penn State and Notre Dame last season point to the Owls’ lofty potential. And yes, I realize the visitors played a bigger part in filling those seats, but opponents like Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia would do likewise.
Temple’s ultimately an unlikely suggestion, however.