DINIG DING DING
Rice and Tulane help raise the conference's profile and will be able to help schools like Oklahoma on their path to AAU membership, a school like Texas Tech toward tier 1 status, and schools like WVU/KSU/OSU out of their academic pitfalls.
The football story line hasn't changed. The Big 12 is a solid league with 2-3 bottom feeders, and still a core of 7 solid team at the top (if TCU wins the conference it will be the 6th different champ since 2009; UT/OU/OSU/KSU/BU/TCU). They are simply beating each other up like how the PAC10 did it for years and the SEC West is currently doing.
Adding two smart schools in great local markets (HOU/NOLA) and splitting up the 'jewels' UT/OU and the 'dregs' KU/ISU Rice/Tulane to the N/S would help programs like KSU/WVU/OSU or TCU/Baylor/Tech have better records and limit their exposure to unnecessary losses, plus it would stop the people yelling about the Big 12's lack of a CCG.
In addition it would immediately help boost the recruiting of both programs and swing any borderline recruits considering Houston/SMU/UTSA/UNT/Tulsa/Memphis/LA Tech/Ark St to Rice/Tulane.
The Big12 (if they decide to expand) should follow the PAC12's expansion plan. Land 2 mediocre schools adjacent to your footprint with new markets and allow your powerhouse (USC/Ore)/mid range schools (Stan/UW/UCLA/ASU) to benefit. The Big Ten's plan was very similar but was specifically to place their best products (tOSU, UM, MSU, PSU) in the biggest markets other than Chicago and to protect their 2 'jewels' in the West (NU/Wisc) from those powerhouses in the East to make the league look well rounded (NU/WU both inflate their records by beating up the weaker East and the West flushes out a dominant champ thus both receive high rankings before facing off in the CCG, leading to more rankings and thus more playoff level bowls and ultimately more fans, money, and ratings).
If you add BYU and Cincy (2 best remaining/consistent Go5 fb teams) then you have a very hard Big 12 South and a very easy Big 12 North (like it was before) spread out from Provo, UT to Morgantown, WV with little no history or rivalries except KU/KSU. The South will beat up on each other and the North will be lackluster and have little/no respect in the media. Push OU/OSU to the North and you have a solid core of 4 OK/KA schools + longtime neighbor ISU with only 1 interloper in WVU and in the South you have essentially the old SWC-the cheaters (SMU/A&M) and jerks (Arky/Hou)+Tulane.
You can sell that history, you can forge that bond between the new schools and old schools (almost more than any possible conference expansion since the ACC's addition of VPI/Miami.
And finally the huge advantage is that you elevate Rice/Tulane now and by 2025 they are squarely in the P5 club so if 6 schools (the Texhoma 4 and KU/WVU) leave for greener pastures, you have 2 quick and easy replacements waiting in the wings to get to the minimum of 8 with Houston and SMU that people think are respectable and then you have time to evaluate options and recover.
I see this as a good move for everyone. Jewels get better SOS by playing in divisions+rivalry game, the mid tier get an inflated record by avoiding some additional losses, and the dregs get to establish a new core of the league in case of 2025 exodus, and everyone benefits from adding 2 great AAU schools plus their great travel/recruiting cities/TV markets.
As a long time supporter of the SWC and Big 12.....I totally agree with this.
Tulane and Rice would be the perfect fit for this conference.
Sure, Cincy would also be a good choice....but, BYU and UCF would be way out of the footprint...and I don't really like either of their fit with the rest of the group.
Tulane just built an on campus stadium and would include a very rich state for recruiting(which would help every member of the conference).
Rice is outstanding at baseball...and adds a trip to Houston for everyone to recruit for any sport.
I would also be ok with Tulane and Cincy, if that is the direction the conference wanted to go. Cincy, of course, would help WVU cut down their travel costs.
Cincy...would add recruiting in another great state, as well as, a top notch research institute. Cincy also brings with them a high quality bball program to counter weight Kansas in the north.
**unlike the deal with Liberty and the SBC....where, I wouldn't let Liberty in because of their horrible record against lack luster schools. Tulane, Rice or Cincy....hold distinctions as high quality schools, all have been in many conferences with success, and continue to play the best schools in the country on a regular basis. So, this is a situation where you can ignore a schools record and base a decision heavier on potential(especially when those cities are New Orleans, Cincy and Houston).