First and foremost, shoutout to The Cube Show (@CubeShow), I usually tune in when dropping my daughter off at her baby sitter and heading around to my morning visits. Earlier today, they were speaking with I believe Joel Cordes and one of the subjects that arose was regarding the Big 12’s current status as a league within basketball. What was once regarded as both a powerhouse football and basketball conference, the Big12 is teetering on the brink of mediocrity in terms of overall relevance, and it’s all the Big 12’s fault.
From caving in on Texas’ demands to not really knowing whether or not they’re going to expand to not being sure what they want to do with their conference title game, the Big12 is just a hot mess.
So what’s going to happen in a few years once the NCAA inevitably goes to the Superconferences? (I know, I’m kind of obsessed with this, sue me) The Big12 will obviously be left behind, getting picked off one by one until a few little losers remain. But who will go where? Today, we’ll take a look.
I’ll preface this with a few things – whenever there is a “super conference” expansion, I believe that you’ll have other conferences picking “from below” so naturally some AAC, CUSA and even Sun Belt teams will get picked off (they may not be CUSA or SB by the time the next major waves come). Basically there doesn’t need to be an even amount of Big12 teams heading to each conference.
PAC-12/14/16? – Oklahoma and OK State
When most people start talking possible expansion, they start instantly putting Oklahoma into the SEC. While I understand the desire to do that, I believe that’s also the exact reason why it WON’T happen. Yes, Oklahoma is a storied college football program, and yes, the SEC is the most dominant college football program over the last decade (though last year was a baddddd year). That doesn’t mean that both sides will naturally open arms and embrace. For your top teams in the SEC (namely Bama), Oklahoma is probably the only Big 12 option that could really challenge them year in and year out, and they would be plopped right into that Western division. If you’re Oklahoma, going to the SEC would put you through an even more grueling gauntlet during the Fall. While the PAC-12 does feature storied programs like USC and strong programs like Arizona State, Washington and Stanford, it wouldn’t be as tough to run through for Oklahoma. Also, OK and OKST are a package deal, so the Cowboys would have to tag on along.
ACC – West Virginia
Outside of Oklahoma, I believe ACC would have the most offers on the table when it comes to a conference jump. They’re decent in the main money maker, football, and decent in basketball. They would expand the blueprint for the SEC into the mid-Atlantic region but they’d also establish the stronghold the ACC already has on the region by adding the state of West Virginia into the mix. That makes no sense, I’m sure, but my main point is this: it’s the easier, least painful move that requires the least amount of work when it comes to logistics for travel. They’re close, have strong athletic programs and add a relatively decent market.
Big10 – Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State
This one is kind of random, I know, and they’re the 3 main programs that would be the most unpredictable in my opinion, so you really can’t get any prediction wrong with these three outside of SEC. Iowa State probably has the most storied basketball program out of the 3, KSU’s football program will remain in good shape with Snyder, and TCU has a strong enough recent history (LT era onward) for the Big10 to consider them. Even if they fall off, having the lure of being a Big10 program and competing against perennial powerhouses like Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan will boost the prestige ever so slightly, so you’ll always be able to recruit. Geographically it puts the B1G into Texas which is a recruiting hotbed football wise, Iowa State gives Iowa its in-state rival to knock around.
SEC – Kansas
This one should be pretty obvious. What? It’s not? Let me explain: basketball. Absorbing Kansas would flip the national outlook on SEC basketball like a switch. That would give the SEC Kentucky and Kansas and pretty much guarantee the conference to be a multi-bid league, pushing the prestige of other programs who might be having an above average year because “they go up against two CBB mainstays”. When the SEC pushed for Missouri a few years back, that was the goal. They gained a better basketball program (don’t look right now plz) and helped change the way the conference was seen on the hardwood……slightly. While they would be a perennial basement dweller in football, they could give the conference the basketball legitimacy that it very well needs.
AAC: Baylor, Texas Tech
Texas Tech is not a program to really write home about and won’t have its pick of the litter when it comes to finding a new home. Once the other conferences have filled their 16-team quotas by picking up and coming programs out of the AAC/CUSA/Sun Belt, the AAC will grab TTU and Baylor as an attempt to hold onto something. By then you’re probably looking at an AAC that consists of Tulane, UAB, South Alabama, App State, Georgia Southern, etc. With USF, Memphis, Cincinnati, UCF and Temple probably getting a call up to someone, I don’t know who, but hey. Baylor and Texas Tech could fit right in with what will eventually become College Football’s version of a premiere relegation conference. Baylor is also a hot mess that no one wants to really touch right now that might spiral out of control before things get better. Good luck though.
FBS Independents – Texas
Let’s face it, Texas has a ton of rich boosters and way too much pride to settle for an ACC after the SEC, PAC12 and B1G all pass them up for other options. It’s not that Texas has fallen off completely, it’s just that their boosters and demands push a lot of people away. While they would be a great historical footnote for every major conference, there’s just no way that anyone wants to deal with the constant demands they bring to the table. It might be best for Texas anyway and would actually put the Longhorn Network to proper use, and they can truly run things on their own terms. Might be harder to get into the playoff, but hey, who cares, you’re Texas.