If Oklahoma and Texas leave and the Big 12 Conference falls apart and dies, what should the Texas Tech Red Raiders do next?
Tech’s first conference was the Border Conference starting in the fall of 1932. Tech was independent for a couple of years in the late 1930’s before then spending another 16 seasons in the Border Conference. In 1957, Tech was independent again for three seasons before joining the Southwest Conference in 1960. The Red Raiders would stay put in the SWC up until it fizzled out after the 1995 football season.
When the Big 12 started in 1996, Texas Tech would get the invite and since then this is where they have called home. While Tech has struggled as of late, they finished T-2 at least five times during their days in the old Big 12 South division. Texas Tech has been a big part of this conference, but could that all come to an end if the Big 12 falls apart and dies?
Looking to the Pac-12
Maybe it’s due to the style of play over the years, but Tech has always felt like a Pac-12 team to me. They are the closest geographical fit in the Big 12. Plus, there is a report from 247Sports Insider Jeremy Clark that late Thursday that TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech have already reached out to the Pac-12 to gauge interest. This is the most realistic and likely fit for the Pac-12 Conference, but much of it depends on how the conference feels about the addition. Are they feeling the heat to get to 16 schools? That’s where it looks like things are trending. Also, Texas Tech is not an AAU (Association of American Universities) member, which the Pac-12 values and eight of its 12 members are one. The Big 12 has been a better conference athletically than the Pac-12, but with the way things are trending, if the Big 12 dissolves, then without a doubt, the Pac-12 is the way to go here for them.
Do Other Options Even Exist?
I have a hard time seeing the ACC or the Big Ten come calling or willing to listen to Texas Tech about possibly joining their conferences. Neither are geographic or cultural fits. Also, would travel be a concern? The Big Ten would have much more interest in Kansas and Iowa State. The ACC would target West Virginia, and of the Big 12 options, all the other schools are closer to the ACC territory. And of course with the SEC full, there’s no room there.
If there was some miraculous way the Big 12 could stay intact and add teams, I am sure Texas Tech would probably stay put, but I doubt that happens. Texas Tech chancellor Tedd Mitchell released this statement on Thursday evening: “Like many across our state and within the footprint of our league, I’ve been extremely disappointed by the actions and intentions of our friends in Austin and Norman. From day one of the Big 12 Conference’s existence, Texas Tech has been a proud and trustworthy partner. As the landscape of collegiate athletics shifts, I can promise Red Raider Nation that our leadership will diligently pursue all options to best position Texas Tech for long-term success.”
Tedd is right. Tech needs to do what is best for them right now and not worry about anything or anyone else. If the Pac-12 is what is best for them, then go. The same applies for any other conference they are looking at. This is a dog eat dog world and the only thing Texas Tech should worry about is themselves and not look back.