Some Advice for the Big 12

Submitted by Alex Cook on July 19th, 2016 at 4:00 PM

stob boops

College football is now two years removed from a significant restructuring and – surprise – the specter of further conference realignment still lingers. With the creation of a four-team playoff and a hierarchy of five ostensibly equal power conferences, it was perhaps inevitable that one conference would consider itself at a disadvantage – and that conference is the Big 12. They were the big loser of the last round of realignment: Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M, and Colorado all found more stable homes in three separate conferences and the Big 12 added TCU (great on the football field, horrible on the hardwood) and West Virginia from mid-major leagues to compensate. They’re the only conference without a championship game, which is perceived to be a significant disadvantage. That they missed out on the playoff in one of the two years of its existence has driven them to question whether expansion might improve the league – though apparently immediate action is unlikely. However, it’s a pretty good bet that the Big 12 won’t exist in its current form in five years.

It’s worth noting that some of the different members of the conference have disparate goals (which isn’t the case in most other Power Five leagues). Texas is content with the present arrangement, which enriches itself with the lucrative (for Texas) Longhorn Network contract and effectively exists as the celestial body around which all others orbit in the Big 12. They and the other Texas schools are probably quite leery of Houston (arguably the best candidate for Big 12 expansion); promoting TCU to the Power 5 level has weakened its neighbors and with Tom Herman at the helm at UH, it’s easy to envision history repeating itself. Oklahoma isn’t happy with looking up at Texas in the Big 12 power structure but – perhaps because it’s saddled with Oklahoma State – can’t flee to the Pac-12 or SEC. West Virginia probably wants expansion to bring more geographically proximate foes into the league. Iowa State’s just happy (and a little confused) to be here.

[hit the JUMP for the rest]

So, in order to reconcile the competing interests of different schools – and because they’re probably in it together for the long haul, barring one of the other Power 5 conferences surprisingly deciding to expand – I’ll try to consider what’s best for the entire Big 12 and what they might decide to do moving forward. There are a couple of realistic options:

Burn Baylor to the ground, replace them with Houston

If only.

Add a conference championship game without adding any teams

This is the current route – they’re making the change in 2017. They’ll likely form two five-team divisions, though the geography doesn’t provide for a clean split; perhaps they’ll change the divisions on a yearly basis or something. There’s no precedent for ten-team conferences with a divisional setup.

I don’t see the appeal. The biggest draw seems to be the money – even though it probably wouldn’t provide a huge windfall at the end of the day. That there’s an argument that there’d be an increased competitive benefit for playoff-contending teams makes little sense: in 2015, a rematch between Baylor and TCU may not have even seen the winner make the playoff and in 2016, Oklahoma was safely in and a conference championship could have only hurt them. There’s no evidence that a conference title game is inherently beneficial, and any judgment the playoff landscape after just two trial runs seems fraught with sample size issues.

With a full round-robin schedule, creating an inevitable rematch as a money grab seems shortsighted. What if a one-loss team loses a rematch to a two-loss team it had previously beaten? What if an undefeated champ chokes against a four-loss team? There seems to be the underlying assumption that the lack of a championship game in 2015 screwed over Baylor or TCU, but it’s wrong to assume that the addition of a 13th game would help teams reach the playoffs – in fact, it could do the opposite. If a team goes 9-0 in conference play, a rematch with a 6-3 team wouldn’t be helping them out.

To me, this indicates that the conference doesn’t think that there are worthy contenders for the 11th and 12th spots in the league – spots that, if filled, would put the Big 12 at a much better number for a division split and a conference title game. That’s the other option:

greg warddoroland dorceusgunner kiel

Add an even number of teams, split into divisions

The obvious catch is that no other Power 5 team will flee a conference that’s more stable and probably more geographically appropriate than the Big 12. However, as we’ve seen in the last round of realignment (most notably with West Virginia and particularly Rutgers), there’s a precedent for an addition that doesn’t necessarily make sense on the face in terms of competitiveness or proximity. TCU was a clear fit for the Big 12 last time around, but WVU – the school that the Big 12 was forced to grab to avoid falling to nine teams – isn’t close to any other schools in the league (the closest is Iowa State, 14 and a half hours away by car). With the dearth of great candidates (outside of Houston, maybe), the Big 12 would have to make another reach in order to get back to twelve teams.

One thing to consider is that the Big 12’s media rights deal is still good through 2024-2025, so there’s no impetus to chase TV markets with the prospect of a huge payday on the immediate horizon. Expansion with the intention of extorting more money from ESPN, Fox, or whoever certainly wouldn’t be unprecedented, but there isn’t an opportunity to do so here. Texas’s deal with ESPN’s Longhorn Network complicates matters somewhat, and while the other nine members of the conference would favor a more egalitarian media money distribution, UT probably won’t give up their cash cow without tearing apart the league in the process. With that in mind, who are the candidates for Big 12 expansion?

  • HOUSTON – Pros: big media market, closest candidate to most schools, promising football program. Cons: probably can’t deliver said media market, would be a recruiting competitor, Herman probably won’t stay forever.
  • BRIGHAM YOUNG – Pros: relatively large, national fanbase, already has own media rights deal with ESPN, strong football history. Cons: requires religious accommodations, not close to any current members.
  • MEMPHIS – Pros: AD theoretically has a lot of potential (and, more importantly, the FedEx guy, a possible financier), in a good-sized city within the region. Cons: “potential” implies that there’s not much there right now, basketball program has been down.
  • CENTRAL FLORIDA – Pros: located in Orlando, could open up recruiting inroads in Florida for the conference, huge school. Cons: not good at football or basketball, not much history to speak of.
  • SOUTH FLORIDA – Pros: many of the same positives as UCF, though in Tampa instead. Cons: might be best as a hanger-on with UCF, probably can’t get in alone on their own merits.
  • CINCINNATI – Pros: well-established sports, decently-sized media market, would provide West Virginia with a geographically suitable rival, could open up recruiting areas. Cons: not as much potential for growth, dwarfed by Ohio State.
  • UCONN – Pros: would be a great addition to an excellent basketball conference, has as much argument as New York’s team as Rutgers does. Cons: even further from everybody than West Virginia, doesn’t bring much football interest.
  • COLORADO STATE – Pros: would effectively replace Colorado, geography is a big plus (plenty of Big 12 alumni in Denver, an hour and a half away), have been competitive in Mountain West hoops. Cons: moves the needle very little, less ready for the jump than others.
  • BOISE STATE – Pros: maybe the best mid-major football program over the last however many years. Cons: about as far from a major media market and other Big 12 schools as possible, Chris Petersen is gone.
  • TULANE – Pros: NEW ORLEANS. Cons: pretty much everything else.

Admittedly, it feels like there aren’t a lot of great names on the list. While the Big 12 could force new members to take a fraction of the revenue ordinarily given to each team (like they did with WVU and TCU, though both will be receiving the full value soon), it’s easy to question whether any of these names could provide a boost significant enough to change the calculus when the next media deal is negotiated. Anyways, it’s hard to know if ESPN will even be able to fork over these enormous sums indefinitely, though the recent Big 10 deal has indicated that the bubble hasn’t popped yet.

I feel like the biggest reason to expand would be to enable divisions and a conference championship, but somehow the Big 12 managed to convince the NCAA to let it hold one even though they have a full round-robin schedule. Once that option was established as a possibility, odds of immediate expansion dropped – but it’s hard to say what will happen if the Big 12 proceeds with that plan. It’s possible that, in the first few years, the conference championship game could only be a detriment to playoff-contending teams, and the reflexive desire to add one after the Baylor / TCU / One True Champion mess could backfire completely. It’s possible that everything works out fine and the Big 12 decides against further expansion. Still, with an eye towards the future and perhaps a further reshuffling of the deck once the next wave of media negotiations gets underway in about a half-decade, there’s motive to make the Big 12 look more attractive to other Power 5 schools that might be looking to make a move. Courting a Florida State would probably require Texas to make some concessions, which is to say – it probably won’t happen.

* * *

So… what should the Big 12 do? They seem to be convinced that a conference championship game is necessary (it’s not), so keeping everything as is doesn’t seem to be an option. Honestly, that may be the best choice: perhaps the Big 12 will discover that a conference championship might actually disadvantage its best teams instead of adding a resume-padding win. If the league sticks with ten and adds a divisional setup and league title game on top of its full round-robin schedule, there’s a good chance that, in a given year, the champs will have beaten the same team twice to get there. How much that would help a team in a playoff debate remains to be seen.

In order to accommodate the desire for the renewal of the Big 12 Championship Game, I’d recommend adding two teams to bring the number to twelve – though picking which two teams should get the magical ticket into the Power 5 is difficult. Surely any of the Big 12’s targets would accept, which makes things a little easier, but there’s no slam dunk candidate and factoring in the logistics of who they might add only complicates things. Assuming that the four Texas schools are unwilling to let Houston in – and that the other six schools don’t have the leverage (or inclination, really) to get them in – we’re left with some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis, and UCF as the leading candidates.

I’d pick Cincinnati as my first choice and BYU as my second. Splitting up into two divisions could look something like this:

Division A – BYU, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia

Division B – Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech

It seems unwise to lump the Oklahoma schools in with the Texas schools for competitive balance reasons (West Virginia would probably love that, but a division with them, ISU, KU, KSU, and the newcomers just doesn’t make practical sense) so an alignment with strictly geographical considerations might be fatally flawed. If Houston were to somehow make it in, a division with five Texas schools and one “other” – maybe Memphis? – could work, but splitting up Texas and OU into separate divisions seems wise. They could always have permanent cross-division rivalries to preserve that matchup.

Cincinnati and BYU each offer competitiveness in both football and men’s basketball, the two sports linked to huge paydays from the networks; while neither program is elite at either, no other candidates have the same combination that would probably increase the Big 12’s strength in both sports. If that’s a motivation, certain other names would be non-starters. Cincinnati would give West Virginia a geographic rival (not that it matters a whole lot, just ask Utah and Colorado about their “rivalry” in the Pac-12), and more importantly, is located in a talent-rich state, albeit one that’s dominated by Ohio State – and to a lesser extent, Notre Dame and the rest of the Big 10. BYU’s cachet as a football program is probably overrated, but they command a fanbase much bigger and stronger than any other expansion candidate; their independent status was a gamble (which may or may not work out) and life in the Mountain West wasn’t ideal, so it’s not hard to envision BYU thriving in a new environment.

The biggest problem is that there are five leagues and four playoff spots, so barring the dissolution of the Big 12 and a move to auto-bid playoff slots, there will always be a degree of uncertainty in the current setup. The Big 12 seems determined to add a title game in football, so they should add BYU and Cincinnati and do it right – with twelve teams, not ten. Upgrading the league on the hardwood and the gridiron would just be a nice bonus.

Comments

East German Judge

July 19th, 2016 at 4:25 PM ^

LOL - I have said this penn state/baylor comment often and they could even have a special rivalry game and trophy.

Actually I would keep rutgers as they are a big rival, for 'crootin, and for the comic relief, but swap penn state for West Virginia.

BTW, FUCK penn state and all their delusional joepa loving fans!!!

Kevin13

July 19th, 2016 at 4:20 PM ^

for the Big 12 was Colorado State. As you stated it replaces loosing Colorado for a regional team. They have been improving in both football and basketball and will have a new stadium for 2017. Put them in the Big 12 and they get more funds to continue to improve facilities. I think they could be competitive in that conference, probably never win a championship, but also don't see them just being a doormat either.

 

I think it still makes sense to keep things in a geographical fit so would consider either a Houston or BYU as the second team to make them a 12 team conference. I think either one would be a good fit and bring the conference back to 12 teams.

Revisionist Hi…

July 19th, 2016 at 4:21 PM ^

Why not a jump to the B1G? They have rivalry's with Nebraska, Iowa and can add dept to the West division.  Add a market that includes big parts of Texas for the Network.

Oklahoma is a no brainer and i have to think that JD has already discussed this with the powers in Norman.

drzoidburg

July 19th, 2016 at 4:33 PM ^

i definitely think oklahoma will bail before the next tv deal, though to which conference is uncertain. As to your argument, keep in mind that unless OSU or Texas comes with, they will be losing rivals as well. But in the end, playing 2nd fiddle to texas alongside the "psychological advantage" of that particular conference will overcome that hurdle, same as for nebraska, A&M, missouri, colorado...

that conference is doomed, too many competing interests and egos

ChiCityWolverine

July 19th, 2016 at 5:10 PM ^

In a fictional world, it'd be a joy to dump Rutgers and Maryland for OU and Ok St: 

Plains
Illinois
Wisconsin
Minnesota
Iowa
Nebraska
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State

Lakes
Northwestern
Michigan
Michigan State
Indiana
Purdue
Ohio State
Penn State

Northwestern arguably loses out in this alignment, missing yearly turns against Illinois and Wisconsin (also Iowa, a matchup that has produced some fun games). Otherwise this would be more geographically and competitively balanced than ever before. Considering the revenue/markets reality of this, it won't happen, but this would be a great conference! 

rainingmaize

July 19th, 2016 at 5:31 PM ^

Which means they probably won't go anywhere without Texas and maybe even Ok State (The real OSU). Personally while I love the potential of OU in the Big 10, I think the Pac-12 is just as good of a fit for them. Right now they dominate the Big 12 in part because of their tradition and leadership, but also because them and Texas are able to vastly outspend the other teams. In terms of expenses, the closest competitor to them is OK State which spends $30 million less then them. In the Big 10, they wouldn't be able to outspend Michigan or Ohio State, while Penn State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, MSU, and Nebraska (in that order) all out spend OK State. The Pac-12 budgets are more in line with the current Big 12, plus Oklahoma has a lot of alumni in California and would be able to open up on their recruiting success there. It's also not like being in a league with USC, UCLA, and Stanford would hurt their academic profile. 

Mr Miggle

July 19th, 2016 at 6:25 PM ^

I think they go to the SEC. That will pay a lot more than the Pac-12 and is a better cultural and geograhic fit. They could afford to spend more money too. They want to compete for national titles. I doubt they care about how much conference rivals have to spend.

If OU leaves, then Texas will too, but I think they go to the Big Ten. Aside from the TV money, they would get a lot out of being in the academic consortium. It's worth a lot more than what they would get out of the SEC. The Big Ten would love to add Texas. I think they would take OU too, but if OU goes elsewhere, there are only a few teams I could see them adding. Kansas is the obvious choice. Getting Missouri from the SEC could also be to everyone's benefit depending on who else the SEC might want from the Big 12. 

UMgradMSUdad

July 22nd, 2016 at 5:36 PM ^

There is no way Oklahoma will be accepted into the Big Ten until it's research dollars and academic reputation rises significantly. We fans tend to look at this through a football reputation lens, but that is only part of the equation that the conference looks at.

ImLawBoy

July 19th, 2016 at 4:21 PM ^

I think that Cinci is the obvious best choice.

I'd go with Memphis as the second.  It might end up being the Big 12's Rutgers, but it's a flagpole right in SEC territory with some decent potential that isn't too far from the traditional Big 12 footprint. 

Mgoscottie

July 19th, 2016 at 4:26 PM ^

  • HOUSTON – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • BRIGHAM YOUNG – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • MEMPHIS – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • CENTRAL FLORIDA – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • SOUTH FLORIDA – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • CINCINNATI – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • UCONN – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • COLORADO STATE – Pros: Slightly Better than Rutgers
  • BOISE STATE – Pros: Better than Rutgers
  • TULANE – Pros: About even with Rutgers

JohnnyV123

July 19th, 2016 at 4:31 PM ^

I strongly disagree about the conference championship game not giving a clear benefit besides the money. I think last year Oklahoma making it in the fashion they did was more the deviation than the trend.

In a tie break, the number of games played is going to be a huge factor. If the other four conferences all have an undefeated winner, they are going to go over an undefeated Big 12 team because the number of games played. Not only that, the Big 12 team will put itself at risk of being passed up by Notre Dame which almost always plays a tougher schedule than anyone and maybe an undefeated team from a non power 5 conference if the Big 12 winner has one loss.

Yes, it has not happened yet, but it's the easiest and most sensible out for the committee to say.....well yeah you have the same amount of losses but you played one less game.

Don't forget the recency bias that plagues wayyyy too many people. A win in the last game of the season over a high quality opponent is counts (though it shouldn't) much than an early season win over that same team. With a conference championship game you are guaranteed a quality opponent in the season finale.

drzoidburg

July 19th, 2016 at 5:04 PM ^

I agree, but even a CCG won't overcome baylor's god awful schedule. The real issue is oklahoma wanting to get out. To them, it's not just about an equal shot at the playoff. There are other considerations. People will always look at that conference as weak, so long as it has 10 teams, recent mid majors, and a handful of other teams no one wants. Even texas fans are disgruntled for this reason

Mr Miggle

July 19th, 2016 at 7:06 PM ^

Not only did Oklahoma make the playoffs last year without one, but Alabama and Clemson would have too. The only way they don't make it is losing a CCG. MSU did need it, but that's 3 of 4 teams that didn't. Clemson losing would probably have cost the ACC a slot. Bama losing would definitely have left the SEC out. It wouldn't be like that every year, but I'd guess CCGs hurt about as much as they help. 

USAFA007

July 19th, 2016 at 4:37 PM ^

IIRC, Baylor and TCU got left out because the B12 refused to name a champion, instead calling it a tie. The committee, which weights a conference championship heavily, responded by leaving them both out. A CCG would prevent ambiguity in naming a champion, but the B12 could choose to do this on its own as well.

drzoidburg

July 19th, 2016 at 5:10 PM ^

i don't believe that was ever officially stated as the reason. They would've been left out regardless, as there were 4 other champions with equal or better record. No CCG, terrible schedules, not a blueblood. To me this was a no brainer. Oklahoma last year got in cause it had a win on the road against SEC, won down the stretch, only loss was a fluke game against a rival, plus a blueblood. All that will work in their favor this year as well if they can beat ohio st

ehatch

July 19th, 2016 at 6:34 PM ^

My personal conspiracy theory:  Barry Alvarez had Anderson tank the game against OSU.  Barry could then go to the committee and show that OSU could crush a "good" team, because up until that point OSU had beaten nobody.  TCU/Baylor had 2-3 better wins than OSU's best win. 

Gary Anderson furious about having to throw the conference championship game, quits to coach at Oregon State.  /conspiracy theory

Other than its extreme unliklihood, it fits rather nicely. 

Moonlight Graham

July 19th, 2016 at 4:42 PM ^

you over-thought the divisions. Don't need to be a mix-mash ACC Coastal/Atlantic or Big Ten Leaders/Legends. Can be competitively balanced with:  

NORTH (Kind of a great-plainsy region): BYU, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State

"SOUTH" Throw Cincinnati and WVU in with the four Texas schools. 

Would love to see Oklahoma and Texas rolling into Paul Brown Stadium every so often. With Power 5 cachet UC should be able to do improve their recruiting. They're sandwiched between B1G and SEC country and would on top of that be a member of the Big 12. 

WolverineHistorian

July 19th, 2016 at 5:03 PM ^

Conference realignment talk always hurts my head. I hate that geography plays no factor anymore. I don't think conferences should have more than 12 teams. I hate that rivalries have been destroyed thanks to realignment.

Just tired of the madness.

drzoidburg

July 19th, 2016 at 5:17 PM ^

One could argue geography shouldn't matter. I can get across the country in a couple hours. The problem with Rutgers is it's truly senseless from a fan's view, even with geography down the list. We may as well align with USC, stanford, oregon, AL, LSU, oklahoma, ohio st, florida st, clemson, notre dame and just skip any pretense of a postseason. It will be a lot like my video game 'super conference' and a hell of a lot more fun than playing freaking rutgers

M-Dog

July 19th, 2016 at 6:16 PM ^

In college sports, geography always matters.  College sports are based on traditional regional rivalries - Michigan - Ohio State, Duke - UNC, USC - UCLA, Florida - Georgia, etc.  

There is more involved than just a plane trip.  There is history and cultural similarities and fan bases that know each other and are familiar with each other.  

To break that up is a crime.  WVU - Pitt was a great regional rivalry that has no equivalent in the WVU-Big 12 set up.  It's sad to see it and others like it go:  OK - Neb, Mich - ND, Pitt - Penn State, TX - TA&M

These regional rivalries were the foundation of college sports.

Rabbit21

July 20th, 2016 at 10:41 AM ^

There is a lot of pride in that break up and those teams will only get back on each others schedules if one school can somehow make the other look weak.  In other words I would expect pigs to fly before UT and A&M face off on the field again.  From what I can tell the basic attitude of both sides seems to be "screw 'em".  

I think a big part of this is that A&M has a little brother complex that makes MSU's look like a slightly adorable personality tic.  This is only enflamed by the fact that A&M actually has traditions other than fans acting like asshat jugalos, but can never quite get UT to see it as THE main rival as UT has Oklahoma for that.  The military has a ton of Aggies in it and they all shared two things in common(it may have changed since I quit, but I doubt it), 1. Obnoxious pride in the school(take the usual state pride of a native Texan and then multiply it by about three) and 2.  A pathological hatred of UT.  

UT doesn't want to be seen as giving into a school below it's level and A&M needs to be seen as bringing UT to heel for psychological reasons.  Sumlin and Strong are both going to make noises about playing again, but I don;t expect anything serious to come of it.  

     

UMinSF

July 19th, 2016 at 5:16 PM ^

Of all the things you mentioned, dumping Baylor and adding Houston makes the most sense to me. There may or may not be advantages to adding other schools, but this should absolutely be done.

Baylor, TCU, SMU, Houston and Rice seem similar to me. SMU's shenanigans eliminated them from consideration; Rice appears to have de-emphasized athletics. TCU successfully made the jump to the big-time (Patterson playing a big role).

That leaves Baylor and Houston.

Houston and Waco are geographically close. Baylor has the disadvantage of being a relatively small, private, religion-focused institution, while Houston is a big public school but has the reputation of being a commuter school. Both stepped up their games on the field and with improved facilities and emphasis on athletics.

While Baylor has been successful on the field, they've also been embroiled in TWO major scandals, both SMU-level IMO. It was only 13 years ago that one of their hoops players KILLED another player, and the investigation brought to light rampant drug use, illegal payments, and a massive cover-up. We all know about the recent lawlessness pervading their football program.

Baylor richly deserves SMU's fate, and Houston is a natural replacement.

 

ca_prophet

July 19th, 2016 at 5:49 PM ^

Is to become less likely to be the conference left out during the oft-predicted future TV bubble bursting/realignment. It seems much more likely that the ACC will be the one to fall, but a bigger Big XII is another step away from that. The B1G, SEC and P12 are all in good positions so it's not hard to see a scenario where the AC gets divvied up and Virginia gets added to the B12 because of West Virginia and other eastern schools they have. This is also a hidden benefit of Rutgers and Maryland for us - we have "dibs" on UConn @ Tenagra, when the walls fell.

Mr Miggle

July 19th, 2016 at 7:19 PM ^

the Big 12. They actually have a lot of schools with a long history together and longer TV deals. I'd be shocked to see anyone but the Big 12 fall apart anytime soon. The depth of the conference is thin and adding more mid-level schools isn't going to make them more appealing. Nor is it going to bring in more revenue for the existing members.

The biggest reason I see to expand is to give a cushion if Texas and Oklahoma bolt. Add two or four schools, give a chance for some more rivalries to develop and they would still have a shot at being a viable conference if that happened. It's far preferable to going to 7 or 8 schools and having to scramble to add mid-majors.

 

 

ca_prophet

July 20th, 2016 at 1:28 AM ^

who will not join the P12 or B1G (they've turned down overtures before).  Any division of the B12 has to pass muster with Texas and probably Oklahoma; the ACC doesn't have any schools as desirable as either one of those (especially since ND is an independent).

In fact, without expansion, the B1G TV deal, and our hiring Harbaugh, there's a case to be made that the B1G would be OSU and an upstart MSU holding together a conference weaker overall than the B12.

Texas and Oklahoma aren't bolting anywhere, especially not somewhere where they'd be second fiddle.  They're more likely to accrete a conference around them than to join someone else.

 

mgohusker

July 25th, 2016 at 1:38 PM ^

The issue is whether Texas and Oklahoma are going to continue to be happy in a league that either is only 10 teams, or will be further watered down by expansion with the best reasonably available teams being BYU (would love to hear TCU and Baylor's views there!) and one of the commuter schools--Houston, which adds little geographically, or Cincinnati, which does, but isn't going to provide bang for the buck being wedged between Big Ten and SEC country and doesn't have the breadth of programs available for a major conference slate.
 
If I were the Big 12, I would make a full run at Virginia Tech (to couple with West Virginia) and then either BYU or perhaps the smarter play, Central or South Florida to hit a beachhead in Florida (figuratively and literally).
 
The biggest issue for Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 is disassociating with Oklahoma State. The biggest issue for Texas leaving (besides getting to keep LHN)  is distance to all other teams in another conference, and also leaving behind Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU.
 

ST3

July 19th, 2016 at 6:28 PM ^

Houston is the 10th largest TV market in the US. I don't understand why the Big12 wouldn't want to add them. I guess your claim is that if they were legitimized by becoming a power 5 school they would attract more talent away from the rest of the Big12 schools. If that's the way they want to be, fine I guess, but I'd have more respect for the league if they had some better teams. Do you want to add a Rutgers or a Nebraska? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

http://www.cleveland.com/datacentral/index.ssf/2015/09/top_us_tv_market…

funkywolve

July 20th, 2016 at 9:46 AM ^

I'd guess with all the alumni from Texas, Baylor, TTech, TCU that the Big 12 already gets pretty good ratings in the Houston TV market.  From a geography perspective Houston is a great fit, but I don't think adding Houston is going to cause a huge spike in the TV ratings in the Houston market.

maquih

July 19th, 2016 at 6:30 PM ^

Then you could have four divisions of four.

 

East: Penn State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Maryland

South: Ohio, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois

West: Nebraska, Iowa, Iowa State, Minnesota

North: Michigan, State, Wisconsin, Northwestern

Something like that? I just put the four winningest B1G programs in separate divisions and then finished them geographically but maybe you switch Minnesota and Wisconsin for competitive balance.

Then idk, the details can follow in any number of ways. Maybe a four-team conference playoff even.  But yeah, just having sixteen teams seems like a much nicer number than fourteen.