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College Football Expansion Top 10 Candidates From Group of Five Conferences

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With the Big Ten expanding with USC and UCLA, and the Pac-12 scrambling as we speak to keep what it has and figure out other options, who’s available?

Of course, all the talk is about whether or not Oregon and Washington might be next to go, and if the Big 12 will try to steal programs from somewhere, and if the ACC finally puts a ring on it with Notre Dame, or if the Big Ten gets there first.

How about the schools that might not be the big, giant, massive gets, but would fill a hole and help build up the base of the Pac-12 or Big 12 or, maybe, the ACC?

None of these ten schools have the stuff to be considered for the Big Ten or SEC, but they’re still very, very attractive.

All ten of these schools have something in common – people. Big enrollments, decent-to-huge alumni bases, good-to-fantastic media markets.

Here are the key categories …

Enrollment: At least 20,000. The school has to be big – no SMU.
Alumni Base: Where are the national eyeballs? In a streaming world, this is a big deal.
Media Market: This matters more than anything else.
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: How good is your school? This matters more than you might think.
AAU Member: Are you part of the Association of American Universities? This is a big deal to the Big Ten. To cut to the chase, no one on this list is.
Tier 1 Research: Are you an elite research school with all the stuff that comes with that? This one can be bent a little bit – Notre Dame isn’t, and Nebraska was, but isn’t now.
Stadium Size: Not a dealbreaker, but having a big house is nice.

College Football Expansion: Top 10 Group of Five Candidates

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Big Ten Expansion Top 5 Candidates: Possible Schools To Join USC and UCLA

Yeah, it’s supposed to be a top ten list, but there’s one more that has to be on here. Added at the last moment …

11. Temple

Enrollment: 32,343
Alumni Base: 360,000
Media Market: 4
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 103
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Lincoln Financial Field, 69,676

Pros: MASSIVE market with huge alumni base. Solid school. Better recruiting area than you’d think.
Cons: It’s Temple football. There have been moments, but it’s a city school in a pro town.
Best Power Five Fit: ACC
Bottom Line: Don’t blow this off like you just did. Remember, media markets media markets media markets. Penn State might have a hold on Philadelphia – for the most part – but for the ACC or Big 12, getting a top five media market makes up for all of the other concerns.

2022 CFN Temple Preview

10. Nevada

Enrollment: 55,415
Media Market: 104
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 227
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Mackay Stadium, 27,000

Pros: Massive enrollment and student base. It’s THE University of Nevada. Tier 1 Research helps.
Cons: Football facilities – the stadium – aren’t great. Smallish market. It’s not Las Vegas.
Best Power Five Fit: Pac-12
Bottom Line: It might work for the Big 12, too. It’s not a needle-mover for the Pac-12, but it’s an easy geographical tie-in with Oregon State, Washington State, Utah, and anyone else from the Mountain West.

2022 CFN Nevada Preview

9. Boise State

Enrollment: 25,829
Alumni Base: 80,000
Media Market: 101
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 299-391
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: No, Tier 2
Stadium Size: Albertsons Stadium, 36,387

Pros: Great football history. Solid hoops. Not awful media market.
Cons: School size. Lack of national base.
Best Power Five Fit: Pac-12
Bottom Line: For football fans this is an easy fit. Business-wise, this is tough without a whole lot of eyeballs, and with the region already partly taken up already by Washington State and Oregon State.

2022 CFN Boise State Preview

8. UTSA

Enrollment: 34,734
Alumni Base: 126,000
Media Market: 31
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 299-391
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Alamodome, 64,000

Pros: Rabid fan base. Texas recruiting base. Great media market. Tier 1 research.
Cons: Big stadium, but could use a different look and feel for a college market. Academic ranking.
Best Power Five Fit: Big 12
Bottom Line: It’s a big school that does the almost impossible and expands the footprint somewhere in Texas. Easy tie-in with the Texas Big 12 schools.

2022 CFN UTSA Preview

7. Fresno State

Enrollment: 24,610
Alumni Base: 300,000
Media Market: 55
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 213
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: No, Tier 2
Stadium Size: Bulldog Stadium, 40,727

Pros: A decent California media market in range of San Francisco and Sacramento. Big enrollment. Great fans. Geographically fits in between a whole slew of options.
Cons: Academic ranking just okay – not Tier 1 or AAU. Yes, it’s a good market, but it’s not so massive. It’s more of a part-of-a-group school than a must-have.
Best Power Five Fit: Pac-12
Bottom Line: The Pac-12 needs to keep its branding as the conference for the West Coast, and that means loading up on California schools. Fresno State would bring energy to football dates with Stanford and Cal – notoriously hot-and-cold fan bases.

2022 CFN Fresno State Preview

6. Memphis

Enrollment: 22,205
Alumni Base: 165,000
Media Market: 51
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 249
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Liberty Bowl, 58,325

Pros: Decent media market. Tier 1 school. Hotbed area for football. Good hoops.
Cons: Media market isn’t that great. Academic rankings just okay. Decent enrollment but not giant.
Best Power Five Fit: Big 12
Bottom Line: This should soon be an easy call for the Big 12. It fits right in with the city football schools from the AAC like Cincinnati and Houston, and it’s in easy range of Oklahoma and Texas.

2022 CFN Memphis Preview

5. East Carolina

Enrollment: 28,962
Alumni Base: 190,916
Media Market: 102
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 213
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: No, Tier 2
Stadium Size: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, 51,000

Pros: Interesting TV market that increases the non-ACC footprint. Good stadium size and great fan base. Underrated recruiting base.
Cons: Tier 2. Brand name not there nationally. No real non-ACC geographic fit.
Best Power Five Fit: Big 12
Bottom Line: The ACC already has Duke, North Carolina, NC State, and Wake Forest, It doesn’t needs to get a lot more North Carolina, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea just in case the Big Ten figures out how to get UNC out of its awful Grant of Rights media deal. The Big 12, though, has to think like the Big Ten. Media markets, new eyeballs, new footprint, grow the brand. Do this, and the league extends from Provo to the Atlantic Ocean.

2022 CFN East Carolina Preview

4. Colorado State

Enrollment: 28,580
Alumni Base: 240,000
Media Market: 16 (counts as part of the Denver market)
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 148
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Canvas Stadium, 41,000

Pros: Denver market relatively untapped by the Big Ten and Big 12. Good fan base. Terrific new stadium. Academic ranking fine. Tier 1.
Cons: Overshadowed by University of Colorado just down the road. Hasn’t made a huge football splash in a while.
Best Power Five Fit: Big 12
Bottom Line: How has this not happened yet? If Colorado somehow gets snagged by the Big Ten, this is an easy grab for the Pac-12, but the Big 12 should be all over the Denver market and easy tie-in to Kansas and Kansas State.

2022 CFN Colorado State Preview

3. UNLV

Enrollment: 30,679
Alumni Base: 135,000
Media Market: 40
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 249
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Allegiant Stadium, 64,676

Pros: It’s Vegas. There’s a reason why the Raiders wanted to set up shop there. Good media market. Lots of students. Great stadium.
Cons: UNLV football has been AWFUL. Academics just okay – even as a Tier 1 school.
Best Power Five Fit: Pac-12
Bottom Line: This needs to be done yesterday. With the LA schools gone, Las Vegas needs to be the Pac-12’s home base, and that means it needs UNLV as an easy host school to step up the snazz for a league that suddenly needs it.

2022 CFN UNLV Preview

2. San Diego State

Enrollment: 36,334
Alumni Base: 300,000
Media Market: 27
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 148
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: No, Tier 2
Stadium Size: Snapdragon Stadium, 35,000 (could go up to 55,000 as needed)

Pros: Great media market with no NFL team. Shiny new stadium. Red hot school that just got over 100,000 applications for 2022. Great football program. Great hoops. It’s San Diego.
Cons: Not AAU, and not Tier 1. Yes, there’s a fan base, but it needs to rise up and rock. It’s San Diego – there are other things to do.
Best Power Five Fit: Pac-12
Bottom Line: The Tier 2 designation is a killer, but the Pac-12 can’t screw around right now. It’s the Pac-12 – it MUST have a presence in southern California. At the moment, the closest in-state school to LA is Stanford.

2022 CFN San Diego State Preview

1. USF

Enrollment: 50,000
Alumni Base: 290,000
Media Market: 13
US News & World Report Latest Ranking: 103
AAU Member: No
Tier 1 Research: Yes
Stadium Size: Raymond James Stadium, 65,618

Pros: Tampa media market. MASSIVE student body. Decent academic status. Outstanding recruiting base.
Cons: Atmosphere isn’t there with off-campus stadium. Football team has fallen off. Commuter school tag – fans need a winner to show up.
Best Power Five Fit: Big 12
Bottom Line: It’s INSANE that the Big 12 hasn’t cleaned this up. If you’re going to add UCF, you have to get USF – you own I-4 AND you have the Tampa and Orlando markets. Combine all that with the gigantic enrollments at the two schools, and … the ACC has to give this some thought, too.

2022 CFN USF Preview

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