College Confidential

Rice becomes latest Big 12 hopeful, makes membership pitch

Rice, led by football coach David Bailiff, hopes to be one of the newest Big 12 members when the league’s expansion process is complete.
Rice, led by football coach David Bailiff, hopes to be one of the newest Big 12 members when the league’s expansion process is complete. Khampha Bouaphanh

On Day 29 of the Big 12 expansion race, we discovered that H-Town is not big enough for just one prospective league member. Rice recently made its pitch to become a Big 12 member, the Houston Chronicle reported in today’s editions, joining its cross-town neighbor in Houston in efforts to join a Power 5 conference.

Citing information from a source with direct knowledge of the interaction, the Chronicle report said the meeting between Rice and Big 12 officials took place last week. The University of Houston also is seeking Big 12 membership and has received public support from administrators at Texas and Texas Tech in that quest.

Given Rice’s addition to the list, the latest count of schools expected to discuss league membership with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby in the coming days is now at 20. And it might continue to grow.

Based on published reports, the list also includes Cincinnati, Brigham Young, South Florida, Central Florida, Connecticut, Memphis, SMU, Colorado State, Boise State, Tulane, Temple, East Carolina, New Mexico, Northern Illinois, Arkansas State, San Diego State, Air Force and UNLV.

As things stand, that is 20. Memo to Big 12 administrators: It might be time to enact a “blackjack rule” in this process mandating an established maximum of 21. For an expansion process of only two to four teams, that seems like plenty of candidates to consider.

But league officials, at this juncture, plan to grant an audience to all interested parties. That includes Rice, where athletic director Joe Karlgaard told the Chronicle: “We’re very proactive about it. We’re also prepared to react. As this unfolds, we’re prepared to promote our values and our success in a way that will help us land in the best possible spot.”

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