This past Tuesday at Big 12 media days, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby announced that the conference's board of directors unanimously voted to explore expansion possibilities and the conference will begin vetting two or four possible candidates.
There are numerous Big 12 expansion rumors out there, but it seems that the conference will expand by at least two teams, if not four in the near future. The top candidates to join the Big 12 are schools that currently do not belong to a 'Power 5 conference' (SEC, Pac-12, Big 12, Big 10 & ACC). Although former UCLA coach, Rick Neuheisel wasted no time in stirring the pot when he suggested that UCLA should leave the Pac-12 for the Big 12. It's highly unlikely that the Big 12 would be able to poach teams currently in a 'Power 5' conference though.
So if (and presumably when) the Big 12 expands what kind of impact will it have on Oregon State? The most obvious impact to Oregon State will come in terms of recruiting. An invite from the Big 12 will give any school that joins access to incredible resources. Resources that include money, exposure, prestige and a huge boost in recruiting.
Take fellow Pac-12 school Utah for example; once they received an invite to join the Pac-12 and move on from the Mountain West conference, they immediately became more attractive in the eyes of recruits. Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, when asked about his improved recruiting efforts, told Rivals.com, "It was immediate the difference in the way recruits perceived us. Within 10 days of the announcement of the invitation we had seven verbal commitments that I'm very confident we would not have gotten had we not had the Pac-12 affiliation."
Whoever is invited to join the Big 12 will likewise receive an immediate boost in recruiting and that will help their program reach new heights over the coming years. Currently, the top candidates to receive an invite to the Big 12 are Boise State, BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Connecticut, Houston, Memphis and South Florida.
While none of these schools belong to a 'Power 5' conference they each bring an impressive résumé to the table. And a few of them are schools that Oregon State often finds themselves competing with for top recruits. In fact, after perusing Oregon State's last five recruiting classes (2013-2017) almost all of the aforementioned schools have offered scholarships to at least a couple of eventual Oregon State commits.
Oregon State has found themselves competing against these schools for players like: Victor Bolden, Jordan Villamin, Sean Harlow, Treston Decoud, Seth Collins and many others.
Most Oregon State players come from the western United States (California/Pacific Northwest etc). But the Beavers also recruit well in Texas and Florida landing 10 commitments from each state over the last five years.
But which schools do Oregon State most commonly find themselves in recruiting battles with?
Below is the list of potential Big 12 expansion candidates and the amount of scholarships they've offered to Oregon State players: (Data from 247 sports)
Despite Oregon State's increasingly strong presence in Texas and Florida; the Beavers gather most of their talent from players located west of the Rockies. And more often than not they found themselves locked in to battles with schools like Boise State, Colorado State, and BYU.
Boise State would appear to pose the biggest threat to Oregon State's recruiting efforts because they've offered scholarships to 19 current Beaver players or recruits. If they were to gain access to a 'Power 5 conference' there's no telling how many future recruits could potentially choose Boise State over Oregon State.
Beaver fans should hope the Big 12 chooses schools like Memphis or Connecticut (Eastern-based schools) when they decide to expand. Even Houston or either of the Florida schools probably wouldn't significantly impact the Beavers typical recruiting efforts. But if Boise State or Colorado State get invited to the Big 12 it could significantly cut into Oregon State's recruiting efforts. Not to mention first year BYU coach is Kalani Sitake, Oregon State's former defensive coordinator. His ties to Oregon State will undoubtedly pit the two schools against each other when it comes to competing for future recruits. And an invite to the Big 12 would give Sitake an extra bargaining chip.
Recruiting football players to the college ranks is no easy task and there will always be intense competition for the top recruits. Gary Andersen and his staff have proven that they are up to the task though. If Boise State, Colorado State or Kalani Sitake's Cougars get the invite to the Big 12; Oregon State will certainly find those schools to be stiff competition, but the Beavers should be alright no matter how the Big 12 expansion shakes out. They have shown their ability to bring top talent to Corvallis and develop that talent once they arrive.