The Big 12 Conference needs to make a decision regarding conference expansion before the 2015 college football season starts.
For as long as college football has been in existence, conference expansion has been a dog eat dog affair. As Billy Beane, portrayed by Brad Pitt, said in Moneyball, “And you guys just sit around talking the same old ‘good body’ nonsense like we’re selling jeans. Like we’re looking for Fabio. We’ve got to think differently. We are the last dog at the bowl. You see what happens to the runt of the litter? He dies.”
If the Big 12 Conference does not think differently about conference realignment, it is going to die. The SEC, the Pac 12 and the Big Ten Conference all have their own networks, championship games and a team which has made it into the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 does not have any of that. It’s not attractive to fans, recruits or coaches. To be a good conference, you must have a dominant attitude.
All three of those conferences have also plucked feathers off the Big 12 Conference. Who has the Big 12 Conference plucked off of? The Big East Conference and the Mountain West Conference. The Big East no longer sponsors football. It had been plucked throughout its tenure, and one of its greatest assets in Notre Dame never joined as a football member. The Mountain West is a great conference, but it’s never going to receive the respect it deserves though. With the new autonomy deal, the Mountain West is virtually left in the dust. BYU has lost faith in the conference. Utah bolted for what is now the Pac 12. Of course, TCU is in the Big 12. Much of the powers in the conference wanted to be a part of a nationwide Big East Conference until it fell apart.
Not only is the Big 12 killing itself by not adding to the mix, but it is also being indecisive. A recent article on Yahoo! written by Kathleen Elkins explained that people who successfully obtain large amounts of money are decisive. Confident decision making comes rapidly. A decisive person usually reacts and does so correctly. The Big 12 only reacted after it dropped down to eight members. It was a panic move.
Believe it or not, there are still good options out there. Colorado State has been a great rival with Colorado. It would be the perfect way to smack the Buffaloes in the face. If the Rams continue having success against Colorado and then receive an invitation to a power five conference, the Buffaloes could start losing highly touted recruits to their in-state rival. Chalk that up as a victory for the Big 12 Conference.
BYU has a national championship and a Heisman Trophy in their trophy case. The Cougars are a historic program and would bring a nationwide religion-based market into the Big 12. The Pac 12 has made it clear they do not want religion affiliated schools in the conference. If BYU wins the Civil War in Utah, that would make it two victories for the Big 12 over the Pac 12.
Memphis would bolster the basketball market. Prior to the John Calipari era, Memphis was a decent basketball school. Under John Calipari the Tigers had one of the more notable seasons in recent history, going undefeated until March. Adding Memphis would add television ratings in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. Louisiana isn’t too far off the Tigers fan base radar either. In fact, Memphis is considered a rival of Ole Miss. It’s just an added plus that Memphis is closer to the rest of the Big 12 than West Virginia.
What the Big 12 Conference cannot do is make panic moves. First and foremost, the conference cannot pick up anybody from the state of Texas. Although the conference is salivating over the Houston market, it’s best to leave it alone. Texas has a bigger share of Houston than Rice or its crosstown rival in the Cougars. It would be better for the Big 12 to add Central or South Florida than it is to add any Texas teams. The only possible option in the state which could work is SMU. We’ve seen the Southwest Conference before. It’s now dead.
Cincinnati would be an awful choice. Yes, it comes with a decent basketball program. Yes, it adds the Ohio market and gives West Virginia a potential rival. It’s a reach. The Big 12 passed up Louisville. Cincinnati is worse than Louisville. The Bearcats are the prom date you settled for because the girl who was waiting for you to ask got sick of waiting as you flirted with girls out of your league. Louisville was the girl that was waiting. The Big 12 tried flirting with Florida State, Clemson and Notre Dame. Now it’s desperation time.
It is imperative the Big 12 bring their championship game back and add more members. There are fine options out there. The Big 12 continues to twiddle their thumbs, and thus will be left at the prom without a date. If it misses out at the dog bowl again, it will be picked apart and dissolve. Now is the time to act.
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