A report released on CardiacCoogs.com states that ESPN is ready to support a bid for the University of Houston to join the Big XII, should the conference decide to expand. According to the report, the top three candidates for conference expansion into the Big XII are the University of Central Florida, the University of Houston, and the University of Cincinnati. UCF seems to be a clear favorite to join should the conference decide upon expansion, but some "guidelines" have been set for the remaining two teams in the discussion.
The two schools would need to have an average attendance of 33,500 at home game in the 2015 season. For the University of Houston, which just opened a new stadium in 2014, the average attendance last season was 28,311. As for the Bearcats of Cincinnati, the school averaged a little fewer than 25,000 per home game in 2014. Should neither school make that goal, or both make that goal, other guidelines have been put into place such as facilities upgrades and on-the-field results during the season.
While those are the guidelines that have reportedly been set for ESPN's endorsement to join the Big XII, there are also some scenarios to consider in regards to those teams that are already in the conference and the conference itself. Should the conference feel that they missed out on the College Football Playoff for a second straight year due to the lack of a conference title game, expansion would seem to be the answer.
Since there are only currently ten teams in the conference, there is only one division and everyone plays a round robin format. If the conference expands to 12, there would need to be two divisions and the winners of those divisions would meet in a championship game. Should the conference get a team into the CFP, the conference could feel okay with its current standing and decide against expansion for the time being.
Finally, if the conference beats up on itself during the regular season and no one be in consideration for the CFP, the conference would likely push the expansion talks for at least another year so they could evaluate those scenarios again.
The University of Houston seems like a likely fit for the Big XII due to the fact that almost half of the conference is located within the state of Texas, as well as the fact that the school is located in a top ten TV market in the country. With a new, and exciting, coaching staff at UH, can the Cougars get the home showing they need to gain a P5 invite? At Cincy, can the Bearcats get the job done on the field and in the stands to gain a P5 invite over the Cougars?