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Big 12 watch: 17 schools have contacted Big 12, but expansion to 14 'less likely'

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, right, listens as University of Oklahoma President David Boren speaks to reporters after the second day of the Big 12 sports conference meetings in Irving, Texas, Thursday, June 2, 2016.
Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, right, listens as University of Oklahoma President David Boren speaks to reporters after the second day of the Big 12 sports conference meetings in Irving, Texas, Thursday, June 2, 2016.
LM Otero, Associated Press

Seventeen schools have contacted the Big 12 with interest in joining the conference, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will have video conferences with each one, ESPN reports.

The Big 12 is expected to make a decision by October's board of director's meeting. The report quotes sources who say it's "becoming less and less likely" that the conference will expand by four schools, preferring to stay at 10 or expand by just two.

ESPN's sources say the 17 schools include BYU, Boise State, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, New Mexico, South Florida, Southern Methodist, Temple and Tulane, leaving three other unknown schools.

While the focus in Big 12 expansion talk has shifted to off-the-field storylines, there is still plenty of chatter of how some of the prospective schools will fit on the gridiron.

Even though many have talked about how Big 12 expansion would dilute the on-field product, ESPN's Jake Trotter takes a look at how both BYU and Houston would add to Big 12 athletics.

He writes, "The premise that expansion would absolutely dilute the Big 12 product on the field doesn't hold much water."

After talking about the AP all-time college football rankings where BYU landed at No. 34 ahead of 32 Power 5 programs and Houston came in at No. 49, he continues, "As the AP poll underscored, BYU and Houston, especially, have thrived on the field, both in the past and in the present — including relative to many of their Power 5 cohorts."

He then goes on to break down how BYU is still competing at a high level.

"But even as college football autonomy has produced a wider gap between the Power 5 and everyone else financially in recent years, BYU has remained stout. Over the past decade, the Cougars have collected wins over Oregon, Utah, TCU, Arizona, UCLA, Washington, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Ole Miss, Washington State, Georgia Tech, Texas, Virginia, Cal and Nebraska."

While many fans have been trying to figure out who will be added to the Big 12, Jimmy Burch of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram shares that oddsmakers are actually putting odds on who has the best shot.

He writes, "It’s fascinating that odds have surfaced because, from all indications, even Big 12 insiders are unsure how to handicap this race. At this point, there is no clear indication that any school is receiving enough support from league administrators to earn the eight 'yes' votes needed from the 10 existing members to join the Big 12."

BYU came in with the best odds to join the league, followed in a tie for second by Houston and Cincinnati, then Central Florida, Memphis, Connecticut, Colorado State and South Florida.

Jack Shields of SB Nation's Crimson & Cream Machine took a different approach to Big 12 expansion, ranking all the schools based on the night life.

Unsurprisingly , BYU came in last of the seven schools ranked.

Jay Yeomans is a sports writer for DeseretNews.com. Contact him at jyeomans@deseretdigital.com.