The Big 12 will have its hands full entertaining presentations from a reported list of 18 schools as it explores league expansion in the next several weeks.
College sports has been through several cycles of conference realignment in the last 15 years, but this round has been the most public we have seen. These are not "back room deals," these are schools publicly advertising themselves as the most sensible option for the Big 12. There are two new seats at the Power Five table that were not available previously, and each of the 18 schools is going to do its best to get in on the feast.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy had the full list of schools under consideration, as of Friday evening.
Now up to 18 on Big 12's expansion list: AF ArkSt Boise BYU Cincinnati CSU UConn ECU Houston Memphis NIU NM SDSU SMU Temple Tulane UCF USF— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) August 12, 2016
One interesting look into the mindset of these Big 12 hopefuls comes from theIdaho Statesman, which obtained documents Boise State sent to Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby earlier this month (PDF). Boise State was set to join the Big East in a previous round of conference realignment when the Big East was still a BCS at-large conference. The Big 12's expansion is another chance for Boise State to jump into a power conference, so you can bet they're swinging hard.
The presentation opens up with a quote from Barack Obama and photos of him checking out some of the school's facilities.
Of course, the documents also promote the success of the football program. Since 2000, for example, Boise State has the nation's best overall winning percentage (84.6 percent) and the nation's best home winning percentage (94.1 percent), with six conference championships in that span.
"Three Fiesta Bowl wins in just nine seasons means Boise State University has graduated to the rankings and ratings of the Power Five conference teams," one page of the document reads. "We have successfully leveraged the national spotlight on the transformation of Boise State's academic mission and role as a growing metropolitan research university."
News for Boise State fans includes a potential stadium expansion.
Having these documents obtained by the media and released to the public shows us not only what things look like behind the scenes for this round of conference realignment, but give a likely window into what's happened in the last decade. These kinds of materials might not be that different, for example, than what Missouri or Texas A&M sent to the SEC prior to their exit from the Big 12. The brochures look similar to the ones that you might get on a college tour, just aimed more at the "executive-with-million-dollar-decision-making-power" than a high schooler.