Navigate Research explained that the Big 12's old model -- 12 teams, eight league games, a conference championship -- is best for maximizing the chance of reaching the CFP. Revenue is another factor driving potential change.
To get to 12, obviously, the Big 12 would have to expand. And if there were a perfect candidate out there that would clearly help close the financial gap, it would already have received an invitation from the conference.
Here are 10 candidates that the league could consider, each bringing unique advantages and risks.
The case for: Without question, the Cougars boast the strongest football tradition of any of these programs. Since 1980, in fact, only Nebraska, Florida State, Ohio State, Miami, Florida and Oklahoma have won more games than BYU, which also captured the national championship in 1984. In recent years, the Cougars have also proven they can compete in the Big 12, having destroyed Texas in 2013 and 2014, and upsetting Oklahoma in 2009. Strong play on the field isn't the only argument for BYU. The Cougars averaged more than 58,000 fans per home game two years ago, which would've ranked fourth in the Big 12. BYU also has cultivated a national following through its affiliation to the Mormon Church, which has 15 million members worldwide.
The case against: Adding BYU would push the Big 12 into a third time zone, which could create obvious logistical issues. The distance from Morgantown, West Virginia, to Provo, Utah, is roughly 1,935 miles, while no Big 12 campus is less than 850 miles away. That distance gap could be overcome in football but would place a huge expense on the league's Olympic sports. On top of that, BYU doesn't compete on Sundays, which would especially affect the scheduling for baseball, softball and women's soccer. BYUtv currently would fit into the Big 12's current tier 3 programming model. Though if the league pursued a conference network, it would be an obstacle.
To see our other candidates, click here.