...Team 12 will be the Houston Cougars.
I think ultimately the other schools in the conference will realize after what they have been through in the last two weeks that at this point in the process adding a little more value is not worth more than adding a lot more security.
I think even if adding Houston means the conference doesn't add a cent of value and to fund it means cutting the non-elite's TV payouts from $14-17 million to $12-15 million, the other seven schools might trade two bucks to try to ensure they keep 12.
After all, it is still ACC money.
Adding another Texas school will further limit the ability of UT and A&M to join other conferences, a move that would kill the financial streams feeding the other eight.
TCU might be a good add, but they do nothing to check the biggest short term threat to this conference's ability to compete at a high level - A&M's SEC fetish.
If A&M bails to the SEC, it could blow the doors to Texas recruiting wide open to the SEC.
It could hobble Big 12 revenue generators UT and OU and any other school reliant on Texas recruiting, causing an extended slump in most members' revenue and the league's perception and competitiveness.
A higher profile Big 12 TCU might jump with A&M to the SEC, making a bad situation even worse. TCU has proven time and again that they will jump conferences in a heartbeat for a better deal. The SEC with A&M would probably be paying $20 Million or so per team.
That is a 6 million dollar annual raise.
TCU would sleep with SMU for 6 million dollars.
Simply put, those shady Frogs can't be trusted.
Houston will always have supressed attendance numbers playing in the shadow of the Texans. They may only draw 40,000 to their new stadium in the Big 12.
Though it would not be ideal, it would be OK in the Big 12. At those numbers, they won't ever be a target of the SEC. That means they would have a vested interest to talk up the conference in Houston each time Aggies talk up the SEC.
Houston would be a pretty good check on A&M.
Plus there are the political implications. Houston has a much, much larger enrollment than TCU and is based in a much larger city that doesn't already have Tech supporters all over the place like DFW.
Houston is on the other side of the state. That means Houston will generally be able to rally more unique Texas legislators to the Big 12 position than TCU could.
And finally, it actually lays out very nicely with a SWC division and a Big Eight division allowing each schools to play their historic rivals.
Also it would finally give playing the championship game in Dallas some geographic meaning as the two divisions would meet on the Texas/Oklahoma border and the heavy of the northern division would have almost home field advantage.
Just imagine the tension in years when the championship game is a rematch of the Red River Rivalry with a slot at the national title game at stake...
That is a license to print TV money.