With Texas A&M all but SECeded, the Big 12 has lost its third member in two years, and is looking weaker than ever before. Recent speculation about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State also bolting for greener pastures has put the conference and its remaining members' future in question.
However, unlike most remaining Big 12 schools, Texas has the luxury of planning its next move as it has a host of possibilities to explore if and when their conference dissolves. Rest assured, the Longhorns won't be making any desperate moves given that they're blessed with a large fanbase and, of course, their very own TV network.
Here are the options for the Texas, starting from best to last!
This might be tough, but saving the Big 12 does seem like the best option for the Longhorns. Since it's already lost one of its chief rivals in Texas A&M to realignment, it needs to do everything in its power to stop Oklahoma and ensure that rivalry doesn't come to a grinding halt.
Many would argue that the Longhorn Network pretty much gives Texas all the power it needs, and therefore it can easily go independent. However, the bottom line is that this network is largely based on the Longhorns' affiliation to a conference with strong members, which makes for great television.
Also, given that the SEC, or the Pac-12 (or 14, or 16) or any other budding super-conference will not encourage one of its members to have their own individual network, the Big 12 remains a lucrative option for the 'Horns.
Several sources have suggested that BYU might be interested in the Big 12 if Oklahoma stays back. Add a couple of BCS-fringe schools like Houston and Tulsa to the league, and we've got ourselves a competitive conference!
This idea is in line with keeping at least one of the two big rivalries alive. Plus, this can be a mutually beneficial move for the Pac-12 and the three (possibly four) Big 12 members: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech (or maybe Boise State).
The Pac-16 will turn into a competitive super-conference with enough powerhouses to give the SEC a run for its money. Texas and Oklahoma can also negotiate a competitive TV deal with the recently-launched Pac-12 Network.
This is the next best thing to saving the Big 12!
This option might work if Texas can somehow manage to keep a strong schedule in the ensuing realignment mess. Of course, many would argue that, begging the question, who wouldn't want to play the Longhorns? But the real question is, would the who's who still want to play an independent Texas who is also in the middle of a grueling super-conference schedule?
If super conferences are the order of the day, Texas will have to convince (i.e., lure with oodles of cash) big-time opponents and rivals to keep playing them. Oklahoma and Texas A&M are perfectly fine with discontinuing their respective rivalries with the 'Horns.
In other words, the going independent idea is an uphill struggle all the way, unless Texas pulls a Notre Dame and keeps its distant rivalries intact.
All in all, this should be the third option for the 'Horns.
This is one of the last, but definitely not the worst, options for the Longhorns. Playing in a conference that includes schools like old foes Miami, FSU, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and North Carolina can't be all that bad!
But a big logistical hassle plagues this move, given that the nearest ACC school is over 800 miles from Austin. However, if this can be somehow overlooked, as mentioned earlier, this wouldn't be the worst deal the 'Horns would strike.
Texas A&M's SEC invitation definitely did not come with a "plus one." So if the Longhorns want to go to the SEC, they'll have to make a good case for themselves and convince the powers that be. The same would apply to a potential Big Ten move. The Longhorns are better than that and deserve to play in a league that deserves them!
This should be the last resort, and hopefully it won't come to this!