On today’s edition of Weippert Wednesday, we find ourselves talking about the topic of conference realignment. The Big 12 unanimously opposes expansion, so what is the future of the conference in which the Kansas Jayhawks reside?
On Monday evening, Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Oklahoma president David Boren hosted a press conference. They discussed the conference’s future and announced that the league would not expand, despite a list of 11 schools said to be interested in joining. What does this mean for the Big 12? What would happen if the conference were to just…implode?
Let’s be honest. Out of the power five conferences, the Big 12 could be the weakest link. If you can recall, back in 2010, we witnessed one of the biggest fiascos in all of college athletics. That was when four schools (Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M) exited the conference and turned the Big 12 back into the Big Eight. To make the switch even worse, the conference added West Virginia and TCU, leaving Louisville on the table.
I believe that the addition of West Virginia was a success. Despite the geographical inconvenience, the Mountaineers are a team that can play in both of the big revenue sports: basketball and football. TCU is not the same case. While the football program had a run with elite status, it has sense regressed to mediocrity, and the basketball set has been horrible, making me question the addition. But, if the conference was so quick to add WVU and TCU, why can’t they add a few more to the mix? My theory is that the conference was desperate to stay level (or was left clinging) to the Big 10 and SEC.
It was revealed following Monday night that the Big 12 didn’t in fact have a vote between the schools. It was originally decided that if eight of the 10 schools were in favor of keeping the conference at 10 teams, things would stay the way that they are. Despite the vote, the conference remains intact. But what if it were to implode? What if the schools got so fed up from the Big 12’s lack of action, they decide to disband from the conference? Here is where I think each of the teams would go.
Kansas and Iowa State to the Big Ten
The Big Ten just seems like the best fit here. The Jayhawks would face off against a host of schools with basketball tradition, including Michigan State, Michigan, and Wisconsin. In that case, why not the ACC? Conference games against Duke and North Carolina would sure be exciting, but think about it from a geographical standpoint. The Atlantic Coast Conference, as the name describes, is based on the eastern seaboard. In the Big Ten, the schools are more midwestern. The ‘Hawks would be on the road for a long, long time if they had to play Florida State every year. As for Iowa State, the second most consistent Big 12 basketball program over the last few years would see its rivalry with Iowa kicked up regularly. The Cyclones’ home court atmosphere would also immediately become one of the best in the conference.
Kansas State to the Mountain West (or Missouri Valley)
You’re probably thinking that you can’t separate the two Kansas foes. But if you think about it, it might just be better for the two programs to split in a conference collapse. When looking at applicable conference members, the Big Ten recognizes AAU schools. Kansas is a member of the association, while Kansas State is not. Otherwise, the Wildcats wouldn’t make a strong case for the conference. With a poor basketball team and a football program likely to fall off once Bill Synder finally retires, KSU is probably lower on the Big Ten’s priority list. Logistically, the SEC and ACC aren’t feasible options. Hey, a KSU/WSU rivalry in the Missouri Valley?
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Baylor to the SEC
This set doesn’t look as complicated. With deep roots to football and good geographical standing, these four schools would fit in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M and Missouri, two old Big 12 foes, would be waiting for them.
West Virginia to the Big East (again)
If the Big 12 were to fall apart, it would be a bad deal for the Mountaineers. I think that they would end up back with the conference that they left in 2013.
TCU and Texas Tech to Big South
It seems odd, but it could be a possibility. Neither program has the consistent talent to get into the SEC.
Obviously, the Big 12 conference sees no change in the near future, but be on the lookout. If things don’t change at the corporate office, the Big 12 will fall further and further behind.