College Football Daily Cavalcade: With Texas and Oklahoma – almost certainly – off to the SEC, what can the Big 12 do now?
College Football Daily Cavalcade: What Can the Big 12 Do?
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
I’m still stunned this whole thing wasn’t leaked out BEFORE Big 12 media days.
If you love something set it free, but get the $75 million first
Texas and Oklahoma are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. You’ll have to forgive the Big 12 for being a wee bit miffed at every part of this.
Nebraska made it clear when it left for the Big Ten that it really didn’t like Texas.
Texas A&M can’t go 30 seconds without letting you know it really, really doesn’t like Texas.
And now, the money and options for Texas and Oklahoma are greater elsewhere thanks to the loss of other big Big 12 schools over the years.
It’s not fair to blame Texas for the Big 12 losing the Huskers, Aggies, Colorado, and Missouri, but it sure helped create the climate that made changing conferences a whole lot easier.
So now what the hell does the Big 12 do?
It’s got little to no juice on the TV side – kneecapped, considering the Sooners and Longhorns accounted for somewhere between 50 and 75% of the network interest – and there’s no Texas or Oklahoma level schools out there to instantly fill the gap.
How can the Big 12 be saved? Let’s start with the basics.
1. Play stall ball with Texas and Oklahoma
The Big 12 could use as much time as possible.
It will file a slew of lawsuits and try every trick possible to delay the inevitable. That’s fine – buy time.
Texas and Oklahoma obviously want to be gone to the SEC next year – and they almost certainly will be – but the harder that is to do should be just enough to delay other expansion dominoes from falling.
Or, just take the $75 million combined from the two schools and move on.
The Big 12 will make noise, shake its fist, and do its due diligence to get whatever it can out of the exit deal and make it painful. However, from a PR perspective, so far no one’s looking less confident in the Big 12’s future existence than the Big 12 itself.
That can change quickly, and that would happen if it can …
2. Merge with the Big Ten or Pac-12 without actually merging
The good for the Big 12: With Texas and Oklahoma gone, there aren’t a whole lot of Big 12 powerhouse options for the other Power Five leagues to steal for expansion.
The bad for the Big 12: With Texas and Oklahoma gone, there aren’t a whole lot of Big 12 powerhouse options for the other Power Five leagues to steal for expansion.
The remaining eight Big 12 schools don’t help the Big Ten or Pac-12 on the TV side – it’s all about football, not basketball – but there aren’t a slew of obvious expansion options for those two.
Kansas might make a little bit of sense with the Kansas City TV market, the basketball side, a good national fan base, and the AAU status – academic, research and university level matters to the Big Ten – but that alone would be a weak response to the SEC’s expansion.
The Big Ten doesn’t need any help, but the Pac-12 should be freaking out a bit until it comes up with a stronger media deal.
If the Big 12 can form any sort of alliance with the Pac-12 when it comes to playoff expansion, non-conference games for football and basketball, and trying to stop the SEC from grabbing more top schools, there’s a shot both sides can rework a media rights package that matters. Take that up several notches if the Big Ten is involved.
And if there’s a Pac-12/Big 12 super-conference of 20 schools, then this gets really interesting. But that’s the nuclear option, so …
3. Don’t freak out over possibly losing other schools … yet
Kansas wants the Big Ten. Iowa State wants the Big Ten. West Virginia fits with the ACC, and don’t be shocked if Oklahoma State and the Pac-12 at least think about the options. None of those things are likely happening right away, if at all.
While moving to the American Athletic Conference might be the smart business move for some of the remaining eight – as the media deals get more creative in a streaming world – try selling the move down in weight-class to a Power Five alumni base.
4. Enough is enough. Go after the American Athletic Conference schools already
The former claim of the Big 12 potentially being too Texas-heavy is gone now without Texas or Texas A&M. The Big 12 needs members of size and name who want to be in the Big 12.
Get Houston – that should’ve been done a long, long time ago – and go ahead and bring on SMU, just because.
The American Athletic Conference might be in the stronger position to make an offer in reverse, but the Big 12 still has some cachet. Don’t dismiss what it would look and feel like for some of the AAC schools to move to the Big 12.
5. Enough is enough. Go after UCF and USF already
I’ve been suggesting this for years, and to real people with jobs that matter, but there just doesn’t seem to be any real initiative to make it happen. Now it’s time.
The Big 12 has to add schools as soon as humanly possible, but grabbing Houston and SMU only really works if the conference can expand the footprint.
Memphis and Cincinnati would be wonderful additions, but the big splash would be made by cutting through the middle of Florida with UCF and USF.
Be in Tampa, be in Orlando, be more in the Eastern Time Zone with two schools with huge enrollments and alumni bases.
So what’s going to happen to the Big 12?
Best guess time. The Big 12 doesn’t whither away from the main stage like the Big East or the WAC, but starting next year it lives in a state of limbo.
It sure as shoot won’t be Power Five, but it’ll still have enough talent to get through a year or so before the recruiting drops through the floor.
Total speculation – the Big 12 and Pac-12 work something out, schools like Kansas and West Virginia get more regional with games in all sports against the Big Ten, and every push possible is immediately made to expand with a few American Athletic Conference teams.
But it’s going to be a rough 2021 for the conference as it figures it all out.