Well, the big raid is over. The barbarians of the Big Ten and the Vikings of the PAC came a raidin’ and were able to carry off some booty…Colorado to the West and the tasty jewel of Nebraska back to the Midwest.
The Big 12, however, circled the wagons. They survived to fight another day.
In the brave new world of college ball, where AD’s are desperate for revenue to fund their programs (80 percent + of which are running in the red), the Big 12 needs to do more than just exist. It needs to make some positive moves to improve its footprint and add eyeballs to those TV sets, and thus increase revenues.
The current blah, blah, blah coming out of the Big 12 commissioners office is saying things like "we’re satisfied with the 10 teams we have” and other such nuggets of wisdom.
Don’t believe it for a second.
The Big 12 was on the brink, and they know it.
They lost their championship game, a major money maker. And anyone who tells you 10 is better than 12 either didn’t do too well on the math portion of their SATs or works on Wall Street selling derivatives.
The league can, however, make some lemonade out of lemons.
How, you ask?
By asking TCU and BYU to join.
Mountain West fans will howl like banshees, but the Big 12, TCU, and BYU have to look out for themselves. No one else is.
The case for both schools is pretty compelling.
BYU replaces Colorado.
When it comes to the premiere sport, and what realignment is all about, the Cougars have the Buffs beat hands down.
They play better football and have been a perennial top-20 team that consistently gets into, and performs well in bowls.
They play in a bigger stadium (64,000+ versus 50,000) to sold out crowds.
And they have much better TV ratings.
Their home market, Salt Lake City, is smaller than Denver by about 35 percent and they split it with Utah.
Colorado, however, also shares the Denver market with Colorado State, Air Force, the Broncos of the NFL, and until the end of September, pro baseball. Salt Lake is also one of the fastest growing markets in the country.
By taking BYU the Big 12 can draw a “line n the sand” and compete against the PAC, who is busy grabbing Utah in said Salt Lake market. Although the Utes have performed well as of late, BYU has a larger following in the Salt Lake City market and a longer legacy of football success.
With their LDS affiliation, BYU also has a big national following, and per ESPN figures is one of the best draws in the nation from a television rating standpoint.
Simply stated, The Cougs draw well…at home, away, and on the boob tube.
Therefore, the Big 12 can actually grab the premier team in the Salt Lake market, one that has a national following, defend themselves against further PAC incursions, and actually increase their revenue.
Finally, the Cougars also perform well in other sports, while Colorado does not.
BYU men’s and women’s basketball is no stranger to the NCAA tourney, and several of their minor sports also perform well. CU…well, let’s just say they sure have a "purty" campus.
TCU replaces Nebraska.
Losing Nebraska hurt, no doubt about it.
The Big Red has been selling out their home field since 1961. They have an awesome legacy in football. Whoever replaces them won’t quite give you that stature.
They also do OK in the minor sports, including women’s hoops, although their success in men’s basketball has been limited.
Adding the Froggies, however, would go a long way towards easing the pain.
In addition to bringing the Big 12 back up to…uh…12, allowing for that important money-making championship, TCU brings some of its own cred to the party.
In football, the Frogs have been to bowls 10 out of the last 11 years, and have finished in the top 10 two years in a row. They are starting the season this year ranked number six.
That’s none too shabby.
Yes, they play in a smaller stadium - 46,000 seat Anon Carter. But they have increased their following dramatically over the last couple of year and started to fill it. Playing in the Big 12 will pretty much insure that they continue to do so.
Why? Because the Big 12 is perceived as a higher caliber and also because TCU will have instant rivalries with its old SWC foes Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor.
TCU is also located in a top five market, the DFW area (or as people from TCU like to say, the Fort Worth-Dallas area). Of the other Texas schools, Baylor is less than four hours away, being about two hours south in Waco.
So while their is certainly plenty of Big 12 support in DFW already, having a team that actually plays their home games there would not exactly be a bad thing.
Nebraska, as good as they are, is located in Lincoln. It’s a fine town, but it is not even a top 50 market.
Thus, the league can expand and solidify its market footprint in one of the largest markets in the nation.
Not only can they do this by adding a team that has been performing well and also has pre-existing rivalries, but last but not least, a team that has garnered a significant share of national press and become media darlings to some extent over the last few years.
The Frogs also bring excellent minor sports. Their baseball team is very, very good and has existent rivalries with several of the Big 12 teams all ready.
Their women’s hoops have been to the NCAA’s eight out of nine years. And they have a nationally recognized track program.
Men’s hoops lags, but the commitment from the school is there…and it is not like Nebraska was setting the world on fire on the hardwood anyways.
If the league adds BYU and TCU they get an immediate upgrade on all levels with BYU versus Colorado. They also get a dang good replacement for what is arguably one of the top five programs in the country, including a market upgrade with TCU.
The Big 12 will also actually increase its media footprint by adding half of Salt Lake and half of DFW (assuming they all ready have half from the current Texas schools), and losing part of Denver and the tiny Lincoln market.
And they get their championship game back.
So maybe it’s time to expand.
Have BYU replace CU in the Big 12 North. And add TCU to the South Division while moving Oklahoma State to the North.
Twelve teams. Championship game back on. And both additions are solid top 20 material that will draw eyeballs and represent the league well in bowls.
What’s not to like?