With Oklahoma and Texas set to leave and the Big 12 Conference possibly falling apart, every other Big 12 program has a decision to make about their future.
We’ve profiled those the past few days here at HeartlandCollegeSports.com. Don’t get us wrong — we DON’T want the Big 12 to break up. But, it’s our job to cover the Big 12 until, you know, there is no Big 12 to cover, right?
Each of the Big 12’s eight remaining teams (not OU and Texas) have to either chart a path forward or apart. If they choose to chart a path apart, who stands the best chance to landing in the best possible situation?
That’s what these power rankings are about — ranking those eight remaining teams by their best positioning to move into a new conference (namely, the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big Ten or the Pac-12).
So let’s get to ranking, shall we? And, by the way, this is just MY opinion and analysis. You can find links to all of our team breakdowns below.
1. Oklahoma State
I went round and round on No. 1, and to me there’s no ‘CLEAR’ No. 1. But OSU is probably the best positioned. It’s a well-rounded athletic program. Its major sports are consistently good, both historically and recently. It’s well-funded (T. Boone Pickens’ money isn’t going away anytime soon, even though he’s gone from this earth). I think any of the three remaining Power 5 leagues would be interested, though OSU would be a fall-back option for the ACC, if we’re being honest. The Cowboys are already have talks with the Big Ten, reportedly.
I tinkered with the Jayhawks at No. 1. But that football program really drags them down. Still, any of the three remaining power conferences would swallow the football program to bring in Kansas basketball. Plus, the Jayhawks have the American Association of Universities membership the Big Ten loves. For Jayhawk basketball, you make the sacrifice. Again, the Jayhawks are talking with the Big Ten, reportedly.
3. Iowa State
The Cyclones are in a good spot to land in either the Big Ten or the Pac-12. The ACC would likely be uninterested. But the football program’s resurgence has put the Cyclones in prime position to not be left behind. It would be great if that men’s basketball program was better. But the Cyclones always draw at Hilton, and the women’s basketball program is high quality, too. Being a short drive from Des Moines doesn’t hurt, either.
4. West Virginia
The Mountaineers are a bit limited in terms of geography — The ACC makes the most sense. But they have a tremendous relationship to build on. WVU’s athletic director, Shane Lyons, worked for the ACC for a decade. That relationship, plus a quality football and basketball program, could carry the Mountaineers into that conference. Now, we just have to figure out if the ACC actually WANTS WVU.
I keep hearing that none of these conferences will take in a religious school. Well, TCU has great facilities, a great donor base, stability in its athletic department and something the remaining teams on this list don’t have — a Top 10 media market. That will matter, especially to the Pac-12. TCU has, reportedly, already reached out to the Pac-12. But so have other programs on this list.
6. Kansas State
Personally, I believe Kansas State will find a home in another Power 5 conference, most likely the Pac-12. I don’t think they end up being a package deal with Kansas in the Big Ten (no AAU membership for K-State). And while they don’t have the major media market to lean on, they’re a ‘backbone’ program. In other words, their new home will discover just how nice it is to have a quality, team-player program like the Wildcats in their midst. But K-State has fewer options, which puts them lower on this list.
7. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders’ only Power 4 option is the Pac-12, in my opinion. The Big Ten won’t want them and neither will the ACC. They have an average football program and a basketball program and is undergoing big transition. However, the Pac-12 would be a good home for the Red Raiders in this scenario. And, like TCU, Texas Tech has reached out to the Pac-12.
The Bears, to me, are the worst-positioned for this, despite the national championship in basketball. The football program is rebuilding under Dave Aranda. The school isn’t in a major media market. It has no AAU membership to entice the Big Ten. And if the Pac-12 has a choice between Baylor and TCU for one spot, I believe they’ll take the media market TCU offers. Plus, there’s the football scandal from a few years ago. No one has forgotten about that. If there is any school left without a Power 4 partner, it’s Baylor. But the Bears are at least reaching out to the Pac-12, which is their best option.
Think I’m right? Or wrong? Hit the HCS Message Boards or hit us up on Twitter.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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