The Big 12 appears to not only be taking a tumble in reputation, but in rankings and national respect as well. Only three Big 12 teams begin the 2010 season ranked in the Top 25, with four other schools in the "others receiving votes" category.
If you're reading this article then there's a chance that you are also probably aware of the recent re-alignment/expansion events that took place over the past few months. You are also probably aware that the Big 12 appears to be pretty vulnerable, with uncertainty being the most certain thing about the conference's future.
One could also make a case that all three Big 12 teams that are ranked might be overrated to begin the season. It wouldn't be a stretch to consider that all three might have these lofty positions just because they're Oklahoma, Texas, and Nebraska.
Why else wouldn't Missouri or maybe even A&M also be ranked? Most in the Big 12 (outside of Norman and Austin) give both of those teams a legitimate shot at the conference title this year.
Texas starts the season ranked the highest at No. 4. It has this high ranking even though it lost three offensive lineman, the winningest QB in Texas history, its best DB, and an explosive Jordan Shipley. The Longhorns did have a stellar recruiting class and their potential is off the charts, but No. 4?
Oklahoma has the highest ranking of any team that endured five losses in '09. Matter of fact, there isn't a team in the Top 15 that didn't win at least 10 games last year. The fact that the Sooners endured so many injuries last season enabled them to get the younger players more experience, which could have something to do with this ranking.
Nebraska came in right behind Oklahoma at No. 9. Many expect big things from the Huskers in their final season in the Big 12. There's a groundswell of support out there for Nebraska and Oklahoma to get to Arlington in December as it may be after 2020 before they ever play again...unless they meet in a bowl game. There's also a lot of support out there for sending Nebraska packing with its tail between its legs.
Missouri, OSU, TTU, and A&M are the other Big 12 teams on the outside looking in. All four have schedules that would put them in the Top 25 at some point in the season. However, the fact that none of them are ranked now is a change from how the Big 12 has been represented recently.
With the Big 12 faced with so much uncertainty it's probably a pretty critical thing for as many Big 12 teams to end the season ranked as possible. Not that it will make the league any less vulnerable.