For a while over the past week or so, the future of the Big 12 Conference did look like it was going down the drain forever. But worry not you college football traditionalists, good ol’ University of Texas decided last Monday that it was not going to move to another conference, basically saving the Big 12 and its 10 remaining teams. (Both the University of Nebraska and University of Colorado already decided to jump the Big 12 ship before sinks.)
Now that the lynchpin Longhorns have settled everything down with their decision to stay in the Big 12, let’s back up here to see exactly how all of this conference mayhem started. Hell, this could go back years, really. The independent Notre Dame could be the original culprit by keeping its own individual television contract with NBC rather than signing with any conference. It seems like the Big Ten Conference could (and wants to) bring them in to the fold (as it does with basketball) but Notre Dame will have none of that. As always, all NCAA conferences are looking to grow and make more money by creating mega-conferences with a large number of schools, thus securing bigger and more lucrative TV contracts.
For the past several months, officials at CU have hinted that the school may sign on with another conference other than the Big 12. And really, nobody put any stock in those rumors. It’s CU. Who would believe that CU is gutsy enough to pull some sort of conference move that could change the face of college athletics?
On top of these rumors and the fact that conferences constantly try to reposition themselves to make more money, there is the ongoing debate about whether college football should have a playoff system rather than the flawed Bowl Championship Series.
With all of this going on, it was the middle of last week when I turned on ESPN radio to hear that a reporter had inside information that the University of Nebraska was going to make the big move from the Big 12 to the Big Ten (which had 11 schools and is now at an even 12) and they planned to make a formal announcement at the end of the week
“This is the beginning of the end of the Big 12,” the ESPN reporter said. An apparent stampede to change the face of college football was underway.
The CU athletic department took that to heart and immediately accepted an invitation to move from the Big 12 to the Pac 10 (which now as 11 schools). Basically, that’s how the apparent Big 12 Armageddon started. What happened over the weekend with the remaining schools in the Big 12 was a lot of backroom deals, possible alliances and a lot of fretting over just what the landscape would look like if the Big 12 actually went belly up. It was like Nebraska screamed fire in a crowded room, escaped with CU, and slammed the door on the rest of the Big 12 to burn.
At this point, nobody knew what was going to happen to the Big 12, or with any conference in the country for that matter. Texas and Texas A&M heard offers from the South East Conference and the Pac 10. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech would perhaps accept offers to the Pac 10, which could then form into two eight-team divisions. Maybe the Big 10 would then pick up Maryland or Rutgers. What about the smaller Big 12 schools like Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa? Would they be forced to go to the WAC or the Mountain West? The possibilities of what could happen and who could lose were very grim for a lot of schools over this four or five day period of college football chaos.
Basically everybody was waiting to see what the money schools of the Big 12 were going to do. If Texas or Oklahoma were to go to the Pac 10 or the SEC, the conference would have folded. In the end (and to many schools’ relief), Texas made the announcement that it was going nowhere and that the Big 12 would not only remain alive but get a great TV deal out of the whole thing. There was a huge sigh of relief for those schools who hung in there and didn’t jump overboard prematurely (CU).
“I got resuscitated,” Baylor football coach Art Briles told ESPN.com. “You can take your hands off my chest…I am extremely excited, it’s like being given new life.”
Now that things have settled, who has won and who has lost? Now that the Big 12 has 10 teams, they don’t have enough teams to have a conference championship and will lose revenue with that. Without Nebraska in the Big 12, Texas will have an even easier run to the National Championship, as all of its road games are pretty easy. Bottom line is the new make up will make it even easier for the Longhorns to win year after year.
The Big Ten, which now has 12 teams, will be able to have a conference championship, so that will be good for them. And the Pac 10? We will see if they can get any other schools to join them from other conferences and if they can create two eight-team divisions. With USC getting punished recently, teams like CU and Utah may be perfect teams to prey on in their weakened state.
What a football fiasco this all was, and I am still not sure I understood any of it. As my conspiracy theorist buddy Joey said, all of this was done to keep our interest in college football and to take our minds off the need for a college football playoff system.
So let’s do our math here. The Big 12 is now really the big 10. The Big Ten (which should have been the big 11 is now really the big 12. The SEC is still the SEC. The Pac 10 is now the pac 11. And the ACC? Well, the ACC is still snoozerville.
And what about CU? How did the overly jumpy school fair in all of this. Who cares? Go Rams.