Big 12 chooses to not expand, leaves Tulane out


Tulane and other members of the American Athletic Conference were frontrunners for being accepting into an expansion by a Power-5 conference, the Big-12. When the Big-12 decided against expanding in October, Tulane and the other teams remain in the AAC.

Jake Brennan, Staff Reporter [email protected]

After months of anticipation, the Big 12 has announced it will not expand, at least for now.

For hopeful candidates like Tulane, that means the increased prestige and the significant revenue increase that come with Power Five athletics will have to wait. More importantly, it means that the more likely candidates for the Big 12 expansion will stay in the American Athletic Conference, making a program-wide resurgence more difficult.

Perhaps the best candidate for Big 12 expansion was the University of Houston. At one point this season, its football team was ranked No. 6 in the country. It has since dropped out of the AP Top 25 entirely, but still sits at 7-2 including a huge win against Big 12 member Oklahoma to kick off the season.

Similarly, the University of Connecticut made a bid. Though its football team is weak, the school has one of the best basketball programs in the country, with NCAA championships in 2011 and 2014.

Though the decision is a roadblock to those who were basing their candidacy off of strong athletic performance like Houston or UConn, the Big 12’s decision not to expand hurts programs like Tulane more.

Not only does a decision not to include Tulane in expansion slow the growth of the program, a choice not to expand at all means that Tulane athletics will likely have more growing pains than previously anticipated.

Removing Houston from the conference in football and UConn in basketball would have meant far more parity throughout the conference. Half of all football teams in the AAC are currently at, or within one game of, a .500 record. Therefore, removing a team at the top would likely result in one more win on many of those teams’ records, pushing them towards .500.

For Tulane, an easier path to a consistent winning record, and therefore making bowl games, would be a game changer. It is far easier to recruit when you have a winning team, and that creates a continuous cycle. More wins equals better recruits; better recruits equals more wins.

After the loss against Southern Methodist University this past Saturday, head football coach Willie Fritz addressed the rebuilding of the program.

“We’re going to get this program turned around,” Fritz said. “Unfortunately, I wish it were sooner rather than later, but we’re really close.”

Had the Big 12 decided to expand, the Green Wave would have been one step closer.

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