The Big 12 limped on without Colorado and Nebraska, but the announcements from Texas A&M and Missouri to leave the unstable conglomerate of mismatched institutions has ended the conference. The Big 12 will live on in name only as Purple Baylor and West Virginia join the party, but the conference it was has ultimately come to an end.
The Big 12 did give us some great memories over the years. At HSJ, we took a look back at the greatest moments in Big 12 history.
1. Nebraska’s 1997 National Championship Run
Behind quarterback Scott Frost, the Cornhuskers steamrolled Peyton Manning and Tennessee in the Orange Bowl to capture a share of the national title with Michigan. This would be the last great Nebraska team, as DeLoss Dodds had instituted conference rules against partial qualifiers and had ended Nebraska’s storied rivalry with Oklahoma. Nebraska never really wanted to be in the Big 12 and bolted for the B1G the first chance they got. This 1997 team was not as great as the 1995 team, but it was the greatest in Big 12 History.
2. Mack Brown’s Stepson
During a Holiday Bowl contest between Arizona State and Texas in December of 2007, Mack Brown’s stepson, Chris Jessie, wandered onto the playing field and tried to pick up a live ball. You might expect that kind of behavior from a two year old, but Mr. Jessie was at the time a paid member of the Texas football operations staff.
3. Big Red Sports and Imports
In August of 2006, Rhett Bomar was dismissed from the Oklahoma Sooners football team. He had been the number one prep quarterback according to recruiting sites Scout and Rivals. Big Red Sports and Imports paid Bomar for work he did not complete, a major NCAA rule violation. Bomar finished his college career at Sam Houston State University.
4. Ron McKelvey/Weaver
After being cut by the Houston Oilers and the British Columbia Lions, Ron Weaver enrolled in junior college under the name Ron McKelvey. Two years later, he was playing for the Texas Longhorns for year seven of his college football career. Weaver left the Longhorns before their loss to Virginia Tech in the 1996 Sugar Bowl. Weaver came from a solid family. Weaver’s nephew, Cash Money, was involved in a fake kidnapping, and Weaver’s sister, Bonita Money, punched Shannen Doherty in the face outside a Los Angeles nightclub.
5. Larry Eustachy – Party Animal
Larry Eustachy’s preferred method of dealing with conference losses seemed to be to go to frat parties, get hammered, and start kissing sororioty girls half his age. During the 2002-2003 season, he did just that in losses to Kansas State and Missouri. Of course, pictures started circulating from the Missouri party and the Larry Eustachy legend was born.
6. Mark Mangino the Bully
Mark Mangino’s appearance was nothing short of shocking on the Kansas sideline. But when this four hundred pound out of shape man was fired in November of 2009 for being too mean, the jokes kept rolling in. He did give Kansas their best football teams in decades, but he was just too mean.
7. Texas Turned Down by Three Conferences
In the summer of 2011, Texas tried to join the PAC 12, B1G, and ACC and was promptly turned down by all three conferences. The irony of this is that in 2010, Texas power brokers were negotiating with the PAC 10 to bring a slew of schools into that league, but they forgot to ask the other if they wanted to go out west. This power blunder is what caused the subsequent Colorado, Nebraska, Texas A&M, and Missouri exits from the Big 12, forever ruining the conference.
8. Craig James Fired Mike Leach
Craig James, a man that just ran for office and received less than 5% of the vote, used his muscle to effectively get Mike Leach fired by Texas Tech. Mike Leach was the greatest coach in Texas Tech history, but a single call from Craig James and a youtube video of an equipment closet ruined the program. Tommy Tubberville was on the job less than a year before he was throwing his name in the hat for the Miami job among others. Tech fans are still wondering why Mike Leach was fired.
9. Bill Snyder’s Tenures at Kansas State
Bill Snyder amassed his teams by scouring junior colleges and getting players into Kansas State that other schools thought had no chance to qualify academically. No one knows how he does it. His run at Kansas State was truly remarkably, but after a couple of below par seasons, Snyder retired after the 2005 season. He was rehired for the same position three years later, and has shown remarkable progress. Last year, his team won ten games before getting blown out by an SEC team in the Cotton Bowl. Snyder is a competitive coach, but it was still shocking to hear him say that losing the 1998 Big 12 Championship game was similar to a loved one dying.
10. Eddie Sutton Court
The playing surface at Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena is named Eddie Sutton Court. Sutton took a leave of absence and then retired from his position as head coach of the Cowboys after an incident involving a bottle of alcohol, some prescription drungs, and a Dodge Durango. Sutton’s son, Sean, took over as head coach. After Sean was forced to retire by Oklahoma State, the senior Sutton ranted to newspaper reporters that he did not want his name on the court.