This year saw a lot of movement in college football. The Pac-10 added two schools and re-branded themselves is hopes of creating a more powerful national image. The Big 10 moved further away from actually having ten teams, adding Nebraska as their twelfth team. The SEC deservedly decided that they were good enough the way they were and stood pat, having won three of the past four BCS championships.
The Big Loser this summer was the Big 12. They lost Colorado to the Pac-10 and Nebraska to the Big 10. Amidst rumors of a complete conference purging they managed to salvage themselves when Texas elected to stay put rather than join the Pac-10. By 2012, the Big 12 will have only ten members. The Big 12 has really made some strides in the past few years towards gaining national acclaim. Despite a 2-5 record, the seven BCS championship game appearances are the most of any conference. They’ve produced winning teams, Heisman finalists and NFL caliber players. Losing Nebraska and Colorado hurts, but the Big 12 isn’t dead.
They can certainly continue to exist as currently constructed. Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M certainly give them enough big-name firepower to remain entirely relevant on a national scale. They’ve got enough regional rivalries built up to maintain the fevered atmosphere that has become the norm during conference play.
However, of the BCS conferences only the Big East is smaller than the Big 12 in terms of membership. While the Pac-10 and Big 10 have both beefed up to match the twelve teams featured in both the ACC and the SEC, the Big 12 is now ironically down to ten teams.
The Big 12 should look to rebuild and re-brand itself now, just as the Pac-10 has done. Reach out to both TCU and Boise State to gauge interest from those schools. Considering the flak that both schools have taken in recent years about their lack of schedule strength, joining a BCS conference could have both monetary and material rewards for them.
Adding these teams would create a football conference that could rival any conference in the country. It would also allow the Big 12 to realign the football divisions it uses. With Boise State filling one of the vacant spots left by Nebraska and Colorado in the North, the Big 12 could move Oklahoma or Oklahoma State out of the South and replace them with TCU.
Some may question splitting up the in-state rivals, but if the Big 10 can separate Michigan and Ohio State, any rivalry can be split. Adding TCU and Boise State to a conference that already features national powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas along with improving programs like Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Missouri would create a phenomenal football conference.
In regards to basketball, neither team departing the Big 12 takes with it an elite program, allowing TCU and Boise to replace them fairly easily. The Big 12 would use its current division-less basketball arrangement.
Losing Nebraska and Colorado temporarily hurts the Big 12. But the remaining schools have come together to save the conference and their next move should be to rebuild it