Thursday night’s primetime matchup between Boise State and BYU will feature two teams who threw their hats into the Big 12 expansion circus.
The Broncos’ hopes of joining the conference were dashed in early September. On Monday, the Cougars learned they will stay independent indefinitely.
The Big 12 announced that it will not be taking any new members despite months of discussion circled around bringing in as many as four new teams. Boise State was eliminated from contention on Sept. 1 while the remaining teams with any glimmer of hope (BYU, Air Force, Cincinnati, Houston, Central Florida, South Florida, SMU, Tulane, Colorado State, Rice, Connecticut) learned their fates at a press conference in Dallas.
“We like the competition that we have, we like playing a full round robin,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “The decision, in part, was a celebration of what we have.”
“The decision was unanimous,” Oklahoma president and Big 12 board chair David Boren said. “All the schools participated very actively in the decision.”
The Big 12 shrunk down to 10 members in 2012 when Texas A&M and Missouri left for the SEC. That was one year after BYU left the Mountain West to become independent. The Cougars were members of the Mountain West from 1999-2010 and the WAC from 1962-1998.
BYU issued a statement after the Big 12’s decision was announced.
“Over the last few months, BYU has learned a lot about its strengths as an institution and as an athletic department,” it read.. “Through our in-depth review we have reinforced valuable relationships and have been reminded how strong we are as a university. BYU strives to run its athletic program like a P5 institution. Our national fan base and broadcast ratings, along with the many historical and recent successes of our teams, attest we certainly belong. We believe BYU can significantly contribute to the athletic and academic excellence of a P5 conference.”