Thursday, September 01, 2011

Where does the Big-12 go?

Texas A&M is now all but out of the Big-12. Their likely destination, the SEC will potentially be poaching another school from the Big-12. This could leave the conference as an 8 team conference. Well, it was once the Big-8 before taking on the Texas schools. Swapping Texas for Nebraska seems like a fair deal. Texas Tech for Colorado? Texas Tech for Missouri? Well, not slam dunks, but not a huge difference. Of course, that leaves the conference a small shadow of its former self. Expansion? Well, it doesn't look as good as it did last year. Had the Big-12 expanded to 12 after Colorado and Nebraska had bolted, they would have appeared to be a good destination for up and coming schools. BYU would have jumped in and brought a powerful program from the vacated mountain west. TCU would be a former Southwest Conference rival rejoining the fray. Now, however, TCU is set to join the Big East and BYU independent football and the West Coast Conference. Would the Big-12 make any sense? For BYU, the Big-12 presents immediate access to the BCS in football. However, a 9 team Big-12 could make scheduling easier for BYU. For mens basketball, it is a step up from the WCC. (However, the WCC is a respectable conference with regular at-large NCAA bids. BYU's chances at NCAA tourney runs may be better in the WCC.) For other sports, the Big-12 would involve longer travel distances. The nearest Big-12 school (Texas Tech) is further away than the furthest WCC school. However, in most cases it would only mean switching from a 10 hour bus ride to a 16 hour one. Sure it is long, but from Provo, once you get beyond, Utah and Utah State, everything is far away. (UNLV and Wyoming are 'only' 5-6 hours away.) So if you are BYU do you send your teams off on longer distance trips for the Big 12? If you think it will work well for the long run, sure. But, with a conference that looks to be on the verge of collapse, why create ill will with the nascent relationship with the WCC? By being the big dog with the WCC, BYU can set its terms (such as no Sunday play) and still get the coverage it wants. With the Big-12 it may be harder. BYU could also end up with what feels like a 6-7 game home schedule. With huge alumni populations in the bay area and southern california, BYU supporters could easily outnumber the local fans in the small WCC stadiums. Even in Portland, the BYU supporters could be a huge crowd. Gonzaga may be the only place where they have a truly hostile crowd. In the Big-12 it could be much tougher. Perhaps a football-only invite to the Big-12 may make everyone happy, and keep BYU's options open in case of a conference collapse. (New relationships could only help.) What about TCU? They have just opted to join the Big East. The Big-12 could be an upgrade. However, in the Big East, they would be a Texas brand. In the Big-12, they would be easily overshadowed by the other Texas schools. TCU also is much more valuable to the Big East than to the Big12. However, the Big-12 would fit much better geographically with the TCU. Would the Big-12 invite TCU? If they are desperate. But, if they are desperate, would TCU want to join? Considering the Big-East may be as unstable as the Big-12, that is a big possibility. Houston? Rice? SMU? All conference USA desperation moves. These former SWC teams would jump at the chance. But, would it do much for the Big-12? Boise State? Geographic outlier. They would love the respect. It could help in football, but would show desperation. Big East schools? Arkansas? Well, now it is real desperation. The big-12 may just survive, but how is anybody's guess.

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