Rumors are swirling out of the vacant Big 12 offices that the Big 12 will skyrocket to 14 teams in the next five weeks. Most of these rumors seem to be originating from a Baylor website, but we will address these rumors since college football conference realignment is such a fascinating topic.
First, let’s review what has happened in the Big 12 over the past few years:
1.) DeLoss Dodds and Bill Powers attempted to destroy the conference by taking Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to the PAC 10. This move was thwarted when Texas A&M decided to go to the SEC instead. The PAC 10 wanted Kansas to replace Texas A&M and the move was set to go forward until Texas refused to relinquish its third tier rights to the PAC 10. PAC 10 didn’t want this mess hanging over their head, so they took Coloroda from the Big 12, added Utah, and signed a television deal that paid all those schools double what Big 12 schools were getting from their current deals. At this point, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas were all out approximately $15 Million a year. With the new LHN, Texas would be making about $5 Million more than Washington State, or $20 Million more than Texas Tech every year.
2.) Ken Starr at Baylor started throwing little hissy fits, making everyone nervous.
3.) Nebraska left the Big 12 for the Big 10. It was an easy decision. They never looked back. Any team would have made that move. Nebraska also lost its standing as an AAU member, proving that the Big 10 doesn’t really care about academics as much as they say they do.
4.) Missouri tried to join the Big 10, but the Big 10 turns their noses at Confederate states, so Missouri was stuck in the Big 12 for the time being.
5.) Texas and ESPN tried to strong arm Texas Tech into putting the Texas Tech vs Texas game on the LHN. Texas Tech said it wouldn’t do that. ESPN threatened to pull Tech programming off ESPN as punishment. Texas did the same thing with Kansas before finding a partner in Kansas State.
6.) Texas A&M saw how this LHN, which has a subscriber base of approximately 0, was tearing apart the conference. Texas A&M pulled out of the Big 12 and joined the SEC.
7.) Kenn Starr threw a tantrum.
8.) Oklahome said they wanted out of the Big 12, along with Oklahoma State. They tried to join the PAC 12, but the PAC 12 had already negotiated their TV contract. Plus, no conference wants to add a school as poor academically as Oklahoma State.
9.) Mizzou, an AAU member, left the Big 12 for the SEC. The Big 12 was down to 8 members, with four of the top five academic schools bolting for other conferences.
10.) West Virginia applied to the ACC and SEC, and was laughed at by both conferences, mainly because of their academic shortcomings.
11.) TCU joined the Big 12, and promptly had a drug scandal where it was reported that 80% of the football team was using drugs and that several players were drug dealers. The Big 12 agreed to pay TCU half as much money as all the other schools in the conference.
12.) West Virginia joined the Big 12, breaking their contract with the Big East. The Big 12 took TCU’s share of the upcoming season’s television revenue and gave it to the Big East. The Big 12 will pay West Virginia a full share in the upcoming season while paying TCU half that amount.
13.) The Big 12 agreed to equal revenue sharing and renegotiated their television contracts so each school will get $20 Million a year, except Texas who will get $35 Million.
That’s where the Big 12 stands today. If you look at the conference landscape, four conferences are expanding and appear healthy: The SEC, ACC, Big 10, and PAC 12. They have all added quality teams. Two conferences are losing teams: The Big 12 and the Big East. The Big East is basically dead as a football conference. It looks like The Big 12 won the battle with the Big East over which conference would survive for now. However, most models dictate that only four conferences are necessary. The Big 12 will eventually disappear, although that could be years down the road.
Going forward, the Big 12 is by far the weakest of the five football conferences. It is the conference that needs to expand, and expand now. It probably need to go to 16 teams just to become viable.
Here are the realistic schools that could join the Big 12 in the near future:
3.) New Mexico
12.) San Diego State
Of course, the Big 12 won’t go to these schools, first. They will start out hammering away at schools like Florida State and Clemson, schools that are in a more stable conference than the Big 12. If you’ll remember, the Big 12 has approached schools like Notre Dame and Arkansas in the past, but neither of those schools would ever consider the Big 12. The lack of a Big 12 network will cost all Big 12 schools except Texas millions of dollars. With the SEC pooling their third tier rights and contract renegotiating going on at the present time, expect all SEC schools to pull in about $40 Million a year. The ACC will also experience a significant jump to PAC 12 levels.
Confrerence realignment is a fascinating subject, but is just about finished. All of the major players have already made their moves. What we’ll see this summer are some minor teams filling out the back end of the Big 12.
Check back here for the latest on conference realignment.