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Conference Realignment - Big 12 To Discuss Further Expansion, Louisville A Possible Target

At least they waited until the offseason to discuss it this time. The Big 12 committee charged with evaluating expansion options for the conference will meet today to discuss potential expansion targets as well as big picture decisions concerning whether or not expanding back to 12 teams and hosting a conference championship game should be pursued. This is an important development for the Big East because, according to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Louisville is a high priority target for the Big 12, should the conference decide to expand further.

Brad Wolverton writes:

Further Big 12 expansion is "very possible," two high-ranking sources told The Chronicle. An expansion committee, dormant for months after the conference accepted West Virginia and TCU into league play, will meet today to discuss its options.

While conference officials stressed that no decision is imminent–and there is some opposition to moving beyond the current 10 member institutions–two schools are at the top of the list, should the league make a move.

Louisville, which the Big 12 considered adding last year, is the likeliest choice, according to people with knowledge of the talks. And Brigham Young, another university the conference has considered, continues to be a possible target. One official said the league was open to adding just one institution. The Big Ten made 11 work for a number of years, the source told The Chronicle.

Just adding one team, even if that team is Louisville from the Big East, would likely satisfy both factions in the Big 12 that want to expand further for the television value, but do not want to have divisional play and play a conference title game. Losing Louisville would be a big blow to the Big East, but with the conference set on further expansion anyway, it would not likely result in the complete demise of the conference. With Pittsburgh and Syracuse remaining with the conference for two more seasons, the Big East would at least have time to try and find a replacement full member to maintain the football side of the conference.

When should we expect action on expansion from the Big 12? Not in the immediate future. From the article:

I don’t want to send the message, ‘Oh, they’re getting ready to expand,’" said Joseph R. Castiglione, the Oklahoma athletic director and a member of the expansion committee. "But you’d be naïve to think there’s not instability still in our business.

This is the Big East, instability is what we do.

For more coverage West Virginia's attempt to leave the Big East early, stay tuned to our Big East Falls Apart section.