This all started when Texas A&M announced a few days ago that it was "formally withdrawing the Big 12 to seek application for another conference (SEC)." Once accepted, the Aggies will end their agreement with the Big 12 in June 2012.
Since then, it looks like the other members have been looking for life boats to escape the sinking ship. As mentioned before, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech are looking at the Pac-12. KU and UM are looking at the Big East. And the rest may have to settle with the Mountain West, leaving the once-proud Big 12 to fade away like the Southwest Conference.
Not so fast.
While the Sooners and Cowboys may still leave, don't expect an easy transition for the Horns and Red Raiders. The fate of the Longhorn Network and Texas politics may keep them where they are. And when I say politics, I mean...Baylor?
Yes, while Baylor isn't exactly a sports juggernaut, it holds a lot of slack in the state government and could use that pull to "convince" Texas and Texas Tech to stay and help reform the conference (and keep Baylor from going to a lesser conference).
Another thing in play could be the Longhorn Network being lost should Texas join the Pac-Pick-a Number-Between-10-and-20. However, this may not be that big of a problem, since Forbes has reported that there is a way for the Pac-Infinity to merge the two networks, provided ESPN agrees.
More will be discussed on that subject later.
If the Big 12 loses only the Oklahoma schools, what can it do? First, the conference would have to convince the Tigers and Jayhawks to stay put. Otherwise, a few more options can open up. A crazy one would be—since it would basically be the Texas schools running the show—push out Kansas State and Iowa State, send invites to four other Texas schools (Houston, SMU, UTEP and TCU) and create a new Texas exclusive Big Eight (the Big 12 still own the rights to the "Big Eight" name).
This is the least likely scenario out of all that I will mention in this article, but considering how the Texas schools can at times (and I repeat, at times) unify for a cause it is still a possibility.
Another option: Invite more schools to go back to 10 or 12. Should Kansas and Missouri stay, it would only need to find 2-4 schools to fill the ranks. The favorites would be: BYU, Air Force, Houston, SM, and TCU. Long-shot candidates would be: Boise State, UTEP, San Diego State, Colorado State, Tulsa, Tulane or Central Florida. I am going to ignore the Irish elephant in the room and assume it will remain independent.
If the Oklahoma and Texas schools leave, it would be hard for Kansas and Missouri to not leave as well. But let's say they do stay with Baylor, Kansas State and Iowa State. They could try and bring in three schools and go back to being the Big Eight. However, BCS would be out of the question as there would be too much of a drop-off in strength regardless of whom they bring in.
If all six leave the conference, "Game over, man! Game over!"