I love the Big 12 and have written several articles campaigning for the expansion of the conference and even listing some teams that should be pursued as new members, but that shouldn’t suggest that I haven’t accepted the fact that the Big 12 could die off when the next big college football realignment cycle strikes.
The simple fact of the matter is that compared to conferences like the SEC, ACC, Big 10, and Pac-12, the Big 12 is behind the power curve in terms of being prepared for the future and being able to survive the next shuffle. With only ten members it is the smallest of the big boy conferences and therefore would have the most ground to make up if they wanted to get up to 12, 14, or even 16 members. So, should the worst case scenario play out, here is where the ten members of the Big 12 could find themselves if they are forced to abandon the Big 12.
The Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners will travel as a pair if they have to move conferences. The best home for them would be the Pac-12, who it was rumored attempted to pull the two teams in a few years ago. The Oklahoma State Cowboys would try and follow Texas and OU, as would the other three Lone Star State members of the Big 12: the Texas Tech Red Raiders, TCU Horned Frogs, and Baylor Bears.
The Pokes wouldn’t have any trouble getting the Pac to take them in given the dollar value of the Bedlam Game rivalry with OU and the whole, “the only time we like each other is when one of us plays Oklahoma”, thing they have going with Texas. More than 16 teams in a conference isn’t feasible when you get into scheduling, so if we are going to cap the membership there then that leaves one spot for the three remaining teams from Texas to fight for.
TCU has the up-and-coming, flashy helmet sexiness that would aid them when trying to slide into the Pac-12. Tech has attitude and a certain flair for the eccentric with their passion for flinging tortillas and wearing camouflage uniforms once a year in support of the troops. Baylor also has a bit of that on-the-rise vibe that TCU is sporting and have been producing stupid-good players as of late. So who gets the nod and joins up with the Longhorns, Sooners, and Cowboys? The Red Raiders do.
Tech would be the team that heads out west because they have a better history with the teams that are already Pacific bound. They also make more sense from a geographic perspective, though that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone but me anymore.
TCU and Baylor will be a package deal due to their rivalry just like Texas and OU. The two would likely desire to join the SEC. The SEC might be interested in TCU, but Baylor is less likely to draw their attention. TCU could abandon their old rival, but in the end the Mountain West would be the most likely destination for TCU and Baylor.
The Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas State Wildcats, and Kansas Jayhawks would likely find a home in the team absorbing juggernaut that is the Big 10. If room becomes an issue, given the 16 team cap we’ve established, ISU will be the first team turned away by the Big 10.
The MWC would either be full or not interested in the Cyclones, same story for the SEC. Iowa State would probably end up having to turn to the newborn American Athletic Conference, formerly known as the Big East.
The West Virginia Mountaineers would probably look to the Big 10, but given that the combo of K-State and KU would be a better pick-up then WVU by itself, the Mountaineers would have to turn to the ACC as their second choice. If there is no room at that inn then they too will find a welcoming host in the AAC.
With any luck the Big 12 will stop talking about expansion and conference allegiances and will start adding teams in order to survive the impending storm. Conference realignment and expansion is going to happen again, and teams are going to get shuffled around. Some of them will have their pick of conferences given their marketability and their ability to be championship contenders every single season. Other will be left searching for a home and hoping that they don’t fall too far from where they started.
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