On Wednesday it was announced that Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark had met with Gonzaga athletic director Chris Standiford to discuss the possibility of the Bulldogs joining the Big 12 Conference.
One of the national powers in college basketball over the last decade, Gonzaga would be a great addition to the Big 12 from a basketball point-of-view, but, it doesn’t seem all that feasible from a logistics perspective.
Conference realignment is and will continue to be a major point of conversation in college athletics circles, and that has been the case for a long time.
In the wake of the Gonzaga news, West Virginia head coach and Hall of Famer Bob Huggins spoke briefly about his thoughts on Mark Few and the Zags potentially making the jump to the Power Five.
“I would think it would be a tremendous awakening for Gonzaga to get in this league and play who we play day after day,” Huggins said. “You don’t get to make your own schedule in the Big 12.
That is an interesting perspective, and one that holds water. The Big 12 slate is the standard in college basketball. There are no off nights. The West Coast Conference on the other hand hasn’t challenged Gonzaga since Mark Few took over the program in 1999.
Since that year, Gonzaga has won the WCC every year except for 2011-12, when they finished second with a 13-3 conference record. Since 1999, the Zags have gone 319-32 in conference play, and 93-4 since 2016-17. It’s not challenging. That would not happen in the Big 12.
Huggins also dove into a story from the past that resonates with conference realignment being such a hot topic, a time when he was informed that WVU was on the verge of joining the ACC.
“I was watching a prep school team practice and one of the more famous coaches in the ACC came and sat down beside me and said, ‘Well, partner, we’re going to be playing twice a year now.’” Huggins said.
“What are you talking about?” he responded.
“You’re coming in our league now,” that coach said, according to Huggins.
“For a while, everybody thought we were [going to be a member of the ACC]. Then someone else tried to get in, bargained their way in and, at the end of the day, we didn’t get in and somebody else did. He thought it was 100% done.”
“After going through that whole deal, I don’t worry about it anymore. I don’t think about it anymore,” Huggins said.
Now, with Brett Yormark in charge, Huggins likes the direction things are headed for the Big 12.
“I know our current commissioner is full of energy. He’s excited about the opportunity and thinks this league can do and be something very, very special. I hope he’s right,” Huggins said. “I know he has unbridled enthusiasm. I was with him in New York. He’s a go-getter now and he knows a lot of people. He’s been through it, not in a basketball sense, but in other ways to build a more competitive, more television-worthy deal and I think that’s good.”