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Conference Realignment: Why the Big 12 Collapsing Should Not Surprise Anyone

Texas working with ESPN to start the Longhorn Network irked many of the other Big 12 teams.
Texas working with ESPN to start the Longhorn Network irked many of the other Big 12 teams.Erich Schlegel/Getty Images
K BecksCorrespondent IISeptember 4, 2011

This is a fact: super-conferences are the future of FBS division college football.

Why then, are so many people surprised that a team like Oklahoma is thinking about leaving the Big 12, and Texas A&M is wanting to leave the Big 12 for the greener pastures known as the Southeastern Conference?

Ever since Nebraska left the conference for the Big Ten and Colorado left to join the Pac-12, it has been clear that the Big 12 would not be one of the conferences to eventually gain “super” status. Teams are looking to get out, as opposed to conferences like the Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC and even the Big East, where teams are trying to find a way in.

Being the giant in the conference, Texas can look in the mirror for someone to blame as much as anyone or anything else. When the conference looked to be on the right track by signing a new TV deal with FOX shortly after the departure of Nebraska and Colorado, Texas teamed up with ESPN to announce the Longhorn Network.

The Longhorn Network is as self-serving as it sounds. By broadcasting Texas high school football games on the network, Texas would receive a clear advantage over other teams in the conference. For the teams that stayed around even though Texas receives a disproportional share of revenue from the Big 12, this was somewhat of a final straw.

While Texas is the cash cow of the conference, no one team can carry a conference by itself. Oklahoma knows that they are coveted by several other conferences. Why should they have to put up with Texas’ greed, when they would become a valued member of the Pac-12 almost instantly?

Oklahoma is coveted by many other conferences, and could end up leaving the Big 12 as early as next year.
Oklahoma is coveted by many other conferences, and could end up leaving the Big 12 as early as next year.Brett Deering/Getty Images

If Oklahoma decides to leave the Big 12, and in all likelihood they will be gone by this time next year, they will be taking other teams with them. Oklahoma State would love to follow the Sooners wherever they end up, and the Pac-12 would have 14 teams with both Oklahoma schools. Super conferences will probably consist of 16 teams.

Of course, the Pac-12 may not take any more Big 12 teams, but the loss of the Oklahoma schools will leave the Big 12 with only seven teams, assuming that Texas A&M will become a member of the SEC. The Kansas schools will be licking their chops to join another conference, because there is the possibility that they could be left out of a super conference if they don’t join one early. Missouri has been in the conference realignment conversation since last year.

There was a time when it would be hard to imagine the Big 12 collapsing. However, thanks to a combination of greed and better opportunities, it now seems inevitable.

One thing is for sure: when the super conferences are completed, no one will be saying that one of them is “the old Big 12”. The Big 12 is like a dead animal and several vultures are ripping it apart, picking out the pieces they like best.

When all is said and done, there will be no trace in college football that it ever existed.

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