OPINION: Tulane as a surprise candidate for Big 12

Jake Brennan, Staff Reporter

As the administration of Big 12 looks for new members, Tulane could be a surprise contender.

With the Green Wave football team preparing for its 2016 campaign, expectations are understandably high. There is hope for a strong start to new head coach Willie Fritz’s career in New Orleans.

More importantly, the Power Five conference may be returning to Uptown New Orleans for the first time in 50 years, since Tulane left the Southeastern Conference in 1966.

The move has obvious appeal to Tulane. It would immediately generate a significant amount of revenue for the university, create a more recognizable brand on a national level and would allow the athletic department to more effectively recruit local athletes.

If the organizers of the Big 12 expansion have the foresight that an executive of a Power Five conference should, they will see the appeal of adding Tulane themselves.

There is no other candidate with a stronger academic pedigree, making Tulane in the Big 12 analogous to Vanderbilt University in the SEC, or Northwestern University in the Big 10. Tulane is also in New Orleans, a strong media market with a bevy of local talent waiting to be recruited. It is also the perfect location for various conference tournaments, considering the appeal of the city, large tourist infrastructure and accessibility to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for football and the Smoothie King Center for basketball.

Despite the positives, Tulane is still at a disadvantage to larger schools with stronger athletic programs, such as Brigham Young University, University of Memphis and University of Houston. Meaning the only hope for Tulane is for the Big 12 to decide on a four-team expansion. Luckily for Green Wave fans, a four-team expansion is seemingly the most logical decision.

A larger expansion would put the Big 12 on par with most of the other Power Five conferences, leaving only the Pac-12 with less than fourteen teams. The kings of the Big 12, Texas and Oklahoma, hold most of the market share and success in the Big 12. With that comes much decision-making power in the conference. Despite their power, the current 10-team structure of the Big 12 is untenable.

This leads to the conclusion that the only options are to expand the conference or leave.

If they decide to leave when their contracts are up, they would go from the big fish in the fairly small pond of the Big 12, to bottom feeders in conferences like the Big 10 and SEC. As such, a four-team expansion seems to be the best way to keep the conference in tact.

With a major shake-up to the Big 12 looming, Tulane stands to be a dark horse addition to the conference, and as athletic director Troy Dannen said in his statement on the matter, “we are prepared to compete with and against the top institutions in the nation.”

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