Over the last year, the Big 12 has stood by while the Big Ten and Pac-10 both expanded to twelve teams. Unfortunately, that lack of reaction cost the league both Nebraska and Colorado.
Nebraska left for the Big Ten because they didn’t like how Texas-centric the Big 12 had become. They felt they were a better fit for the Big Ten from a geographic, academic and equal partnership standpoint.
Colorado wasn’t bothered as much by the Texas-centric vibe, but they did feel out of place in the league. They decided to leave for the newly formed Pac-12, where they were a much better fit in terms of academics, recruiting and fan base size.
Think of them both as spouses who left after a decade of neglect.
It was time for both of them to feel wanted.
But make no mistake, the departure of Nebraska and Colorado is a huge blow to the Big 12. The two schools had represented the Big 12 North in 10 of the 15 Big 12 Championship Games, with Nebraska playing in six and Colorado playing in four. Their absence forced the Big 12 to abandon its North/South alignment and made the league utilize a round-robin schedule to determine the league champion.
Ironically, it's exactly what the Pac-10 used to do before expanding.
Yet, as of now, the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC are the only BCS conferences that have 12 teams.
Unfortunately, that leaves the Big 12 and the Big East as the only BCS conferences short of the mandatory amount of teams required to host a conference championship game. And, rightly or wrongly, both of those conferences will suffer from a perception standpoint as a result.
But what both should be afraid of is being cannibalized by the remaining power conferences.
It almost happened during this last round of expansion. If the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC were smart, they would have gone in for the kill.
As it stands, the six current BCS conferences have to share the wealth amongst themselves.
If they eliminate an opposing conference, their portion of the pie increases from approximately 16 percent to 20 percent. When you are talking about millions of dollars, the four percent increase suddenly becomes bigger.
If the group could team up to also eliminate the Big East, they would each rake in 25 percent of the BCS pie.
With that much money at stake, the leagues could and should begin to attack the others.
My suggestion to the four BCS conferences currently with 12 teams is as follows: Expand to a 16 team super conference.
The Pac-12 should pilfer the four Texas schools currently in the Big 12 (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech).
The Big Ten should take Iowa State, Kansas and Missouri from the Big 12 and Pittsburgh from the Big East.
The SEC should snatch Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State from the Big 12 and TCU from the Mountain West/Big East.
Those moves alone eliminate all 10 of the remaining members of the Big 12.
Finally, the ACC can handpick four of the remaining schools from the Big East. My suggestion would be the four longest tenured members: Connecticut, Rutgers, Syracuse and West Virginia.
The three schools left out after this merry-go-round of death is done spinning are Cincinnati, Louisville and South Florida. They could return to their Conference USA roots.
For them, it's just like what the Godfather says.
It was never personal. It was simply business.
But before it can get to that point, the Big 12 should see the giant target on its back and react.
Sure, they were at 12 teams before. But then again, the Big Ten and Pac-10 decided to poach two members before.
But now, before the sharks smell blood in the water, they should get back to 12 teams.
Now, there is a big problem, with the biggest fish, TCU, off of the line. Again.
After the old Southwest Conference disbanded, TCU was left out of the newly formed Big 12, due to some backroom shenanigans by Baylor. After Nebraska and Colorado bolted, the Big 12 should have invited TCU to join.
Unfortunately, they dropped the ball and now TCU is headed to the Big East.
The Big 12 needs to expand back to 12 teams, with or without TCU. And, fortunately for them, there are two schools that were not only a part of the old Southwest Conference, but also have a history with the Texas schools already in the Big 12.
Houston and SMU.
Houston has a Heisman Trophy winner in its history (Andre Ware), has been one of the top non-AQ schools over the last few years, and has one of the best young coaches in the game with Kevin Sumlin, while SMU has a national championship in its history, a Heisman Trophy winner (Doak Walker), and a great coach in June Jones, who is helping turn the program around after the "Death Penalty" left it in the doldrums for years.
Houston, SMU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Baylor could form an all-Texas Big 12 South division. By doing this, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could then move up to the Big 12 North division, joining Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Missouri.
Sure, Houston and SMU might not excite a lot of people. At this point, though, they are the best available options. Plus, moving up to a BCS conference should also allow both programs to blossom, since they will be able to attract better recruits on a yearly basis.
The new alignment also sets up a potential Texas versus Oklahoma matchup in the Big 12 Championship game. Imagine the Red River Shootout in December, with a trip to the National Championship on the line.
Who isn't in favor of that?
It's time for the Big 12 to expand or risk elimination.
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