The Big 12 looked to be gasping desperately for air and struggling to stay alive. On Tuesday, the University of Texas dramatically swept in, administered the paddles, and brought the conference back to life.
UT’s President William Powers Jr. played the role of lead medic and yelled “clear” several times, called for 27 million units of TV money on a slow IV drip, and, finally, removing his gloves and mask, exited the ambulance and dramatically pronounced that the Big 12 was alive and well.
So, what does the “new” Big 12, with 10 members, mean for the Texas Tech Red Raiders?
First, there is the question of just what the format of the new 10-team conference will be. Early reports indicate that the Big 12 brass wants the conference to stay put at 10 members and have each team play each other member team once per season.
This move has an immediate effect on all the Big 12 teams, including the Red Raiders.
Currently, Tech plays eight conference games and four non-conference opponents. Though Tech has scheduled some quality non-conference games over the past several years, there have also been quite a few match-ups with smaller school teams that, at least in appearance, offer a lower level of competition.
Virtually every other team in the Big 12 can be accused of this as well.
The suggested format, where each of the ten teams play one another once per season, would mean that Tech and other Big 12 teams would only be able to schedule three non-conference games, taking away at least one “easy” win.
On the other hand, Tech being required to face each of the other member teams once per season has no significant effect on the Red Raiders as they will still have to face Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M each season.
The big games against the top teams remain, as currently, on a yearly basis. The only net difference is one additional game with one of the remaining North teams.
Nebraska, being out of the equation only marginally effects the Red Raiders as they have never played the Cornhuskers annually. Over the last several seasons, Nebraska did not provide a Texas or Oklahoma type challenge for Tech.
Next, there is the obvious question of what happens with the alignment of two divisions if the Big 12 expands back to 12 teams, which is a definite possibility in the future. TCU seems a plausible option for Big 12 membership. As is fellow Southwest Conference alum the University of Houston. Other interesting arguments could be made for teams like Tulsa and UTEP, but options such as Louisville and Cincinnati are more intriguing.
If two new teams are indeed added in the future, and the conference championship game is revived, what does this mean for the Red Raiders?
If two Texas teams are added, and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are moved to the northern division, then the argument could be made that Tech gains an advantage by not having to automatically face Oklahoma each season. Playing in Norman has been an obvious stumbling block for the Red Raiders.
Basically, at least for now, it does not seem that the “new” and smaller Big 12 will be any harder than the “old” and bigger Big 12 was for the Red Raiders to win.
Tech has made obvious and significant strides in its football program over the last ten years. With a new coach and peaked national interested in the program, Tech needs to keep its nose to the grindstone and continue to improve its program and set its eyes on loftier goals.
There is much ado about Texas leading the Big 12 and other Texas schools being left languishing in the Longhorns considerable shadow.
Texas Tech needs to ignore the drama and focus on winning football games.
If the Red Raiders can continue to consistently win and produce championship caliber teams, they need not worry about being in anyone’s shadow.
The only time Tech needs to concern itself with the Longhorns this year is on September 18th when they meet Texas in Lubbock.