Conference Realignment: Does Big 12 Stand Chance of Surviving After This Season?

Joseph HealyCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2011

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 24:  Quarterback Landry Jones #12 congratulates wide receiver Ryan Broyles #85 of the Oklahoma Sooners after scoring a touchdown against the Missouri Tigers on September 24, 2011 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.  Oklahoma defeated Missouri 38-28.  (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images

The systematic dismantling of what we know as the Big 12 Conference began in earnest during the summer of 2010. During that summer, the rumors first started that the (then) Pac 10 Conference was going to pillage Texas, Oklahoma and others from the conference's upper tier.

That didn't happen, but it didn't stop other teams from leaving. Colorado did end up leaving for the Pac 10 and Nebraska ended up in the Big Ten.

Somehow, the conference survived all that and decided to stay together.

Now that rumors have started up again and Texas A&M is heading to the SEC, there is concern that the Big 12 won't survive this time around.

Everyone in the conference is looking for a guarantee, including the conference itself. The conference, and more specifically, the athletic directors of some of the smaller programs, are looking for guarantees from Oklahoma and Texas that they are staying.

In return, the teams, most notably Oklahoma, are asking that the conference do everything it can to keep the conference afloat by finding replacement teams for those that leave.

It was Oklahoma's concerns over this issue that led to conference commissioner Dan Beebe stepping down. The Sooners would only commit to working towards a new Big 12 if the conference made the decision to move forward with a new commissioner.

In the end, it could be Missouri that decides the fate of the conference. The SEC is still looking for a 14th team to round out the field and Missouri keeps popping up.

If Mizzou stays in the Big 12, that conference can find another team to replace A&M easily enough. If Mizzou leaves for the SEC, though, I'm not sure that it doesn't signal that the Big 12 is on life support.

Who would have thought that with all the powerful schools involved in the Big 12's realignment and expansion talks, it would be Missouri that would hold the fate of the conference in its hands?