Although it appeared that Texas A&M could possibly look to pursue options other than the Big 12, it was not expected to happen so immediately.
The loss of the Aggies leaves the Big 12 in dire straights. They are now down to a nine team conference with only three legitimate contenders. The leaders of this conference are Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, but after that, the talent level takes a steep tumble.
So where does the Big 12 go from here?
They will likely look to expand to keep the conference alive rather than let it collapse.
For a conference that is so heavily invested in the state of Texas, they could look to add TCU, SMU, or Houston. All of those options seem highly unlikely, however.
The Big 12 had a shot to pursue the TCU Horned Frogs before and didn't jump at the opportunity. TCU now has exactly what they want, an automatic BCS bid, now that they have joined the Big East. It is highly unlikely that they will move conferences again after pledging their commitment to the Big East a year ago.
A conference that is as big as the Big 12 would more than likely not jump at the idea of adding a smaller school with a limited fan base. The SMU Mustangs are on the rise, but it doesn't seem like the right fit. The Mustangs probably couldn't compete against Texas and Oklahoma seeing how they lost games to both Navy and Army a season ago.
Who Should the Big 12 Try to Add?
Houston plays in a large city and could attract more fans if they were in a conference as good as the Big 12, but they fared worse than SMU a season ago. The Big 12 will want to add teams that can compete immediately.
The best option for the conference appears to be western expansion.
The teams that seem like the best logical fit are BYU, Air Force, and Boise State. They don't bring anything special as far as being big time media outlets or having national fan bases. But, all three teams are relatively close to each other and have been successful in the past.
Brigham Young makes a lot of sense because they aren't tied down to any conference. They just decided to become independent, but could be wooed by the money they could make by joining the Big 12.
They are also a program that has won a lot in the past 5 seasons. BYU has is 50-15 since 2006. They also finished in the AP Top 25 poll from 2006-2009. The big question is can they compete with the big dogs in the Big 12. Well they were able to beat Oklahoma in 2009 when OU was ranked #3 in the nation.
While they may not be the sexiest option, the Air Force Falcons might fit well in a new look Big 12. If all three of these teams are added, than Air Force would be very close to BYU and Boise.
Their finishes in the last three seasons have been 9-4, 8-5, and 8-5. Granted, those aren't great records for a team coming out of the Mountain West, but when you look closer, they played very well against good competition. Just last season, they only lost to then #7 Oklahoma by 3, and then #8 Utah by 5.
Boise State would be the most interesting addition to the Big 12. There's no doubt that Boise State can play with the big dogs, the only question is can they bring in revenue?
The answer quite simply, is no.
Even with a move to a power conference, Boise still wouldn't bring a lot of money to the table. What Boise does bring, however, is national attention. This is a team that, as of late, has been arguably the best team to not play in a BCS National Championship.
With a move to the Big 12, that becomes a possibility. Who wouldn't want to see whether or not the Boise State Broncos can compete with the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners? This is Boise's opportunity to prove themselves.
The possibility of the Big 12 attempting to add these teams is unknown as of now. They may look to pursue those smaller Texas schools. They should look to add at least three schools so that they can have a conference championship again. Whatever the Big 12 decision is, they should look into expanding west, and making a splash in the national headlines.