In February of 1994 the Big 8 joined four teams from the Southwest Conference to form the Big 12. Immediately the new conference was tagged as a “super conference.” Despite all the success on the field, the Big 12 appears to be approaching it’s death.
Regardless of what the Big 10 and Pac 10 would have you believe, the Big 12 has been the second best football conference in the country for more than a decade. In fact, since the inception of the BCS in 1998, the Big 12 has been represented in 7 of the 13 BCS Championship games. That ties the Big 12 with the SEC for the most appearances.
Six conferences have sent teams to the BCS title game. Here is a breakdown of the number of appearences each conference has made.
1.) Big 12 – 7
2.) SEC – 7
3.) Big 10 – 3
4.) Pac 10 – 3
5.) Big East – 3
6.) ACC – 3
From 2000 through 2005 the Big 12 was dominant, making five title games compared to just one for the SEC (LSU 2003).
So, with all the success the Big 12 has experienced, how did they get to the point of being picked apart? The answer is easy. Texas!
The Big 12 allowed the Longhorns to take control of the conference. Nebraska was the first to take exception to this and Colorado was never happy with the situation. Of the remaining 10 teams, Texas A&M, despite taking all the criticism, is not alone in being unhappy with the way Texas has gotten their way.
Oklahoma has announced they will entertain the idea of making a move and Bob Stoops even hinted that their rivalry with the Horns isn’t even “necessary” to their future plans. The Sooners are looking strongly at taking their game to the west coast and it looks like they are taking some friends with them.
The Sooners are right. They don’t need Texas. In fact, if they went to a new “Pac 16” and Texas gets left behind to go independent or join another conference, Oklahoma will benefit tremendously.
The big benefit for Oklahoma going west is that new recruiting grounds will open up. The Sooners have always recruited California well, but by playing in a “Pac 16” the Sooners will have access to talent on the west coast that Texas doesn’t have.
The truth is that other schools like Kansas and Missouri also have a great deal of pride and have never liked being pushed around by Texas. They just haven’t had the ability to do much about it. Unfortunately for them, if the Big 12 dies, they will suffer.
Even if the Big 10 and SEC are wanting to expand, there are a number of other teams that are above them in the pecking order. There is a good chance that either school could be left out of the power conferences, which is unfortunate considering Kansas still has one of the best basketball programs in the country.
The bad part is that the Big 12 worked for most of the schools. Oklahoma and Texas could win national championships in the Big 12. Moving to the Pac 12 or SEC will make that tougher. It will also be tougher on schools like Oklahoma State and Texas Tech who may not even be able to compete in a super conference.
The demise of the Big 12 isn’t because it didn’t work for the teams in the conference. It’s just that it worked too well for the team in Austin.