What Is Known
At the time of writing this article, college athletics are in a peculiar place. The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Austin recently have made clear their varsity athletic programs are leaving the Big 12 and plan on joining the Southeastern Conference to compete alongside powerhouse schools throughout the southern United States. This move has been predicted to come eventually, as they almost left to join the Pacific Athletic Conference in the early 2010s realignment. However, they stayed and helped form the not-so-fittingly named 10 teamed Big 12. It may be seen as only two teams making a small move, but as shown in the past, the dominoes must be pushed somewhere.
What can Happen
Bye Bye to the XII
Since the last wave of realignment, the Big Twelve has had the least financial success compared to the other “Power Five” schools, juggernauts in all schools known to humankind, and most importantly, football and basketball. The only reason why the Big Twelve is still afloat is Taxes from Texas. With Texas almost leaving in the early 2010s, the conference went as far as creating the Longhorn Network, made for just UT content. No conference would go to such lengths unless need be. The conference can not sustain itself without its largest players. It is no longer the 1980s where an 8 team league can thrive. The environment is currently an eat or be eaten situation, and without their best competition, the Big Twelve is a mighty fine snack for others to gobble up.
Kansas, Iowa St. to the B1G
Iowa St. has their rivalry with Iowa, and Kansas has some historical beef with schools such as Michigan. This move is the most likely to happen. For nearby conferences, these schools fit right in with the Midwestern conference. The other Midwestern Big Twelve institution, Kansas State, is not an American Association of Universities member, which is everything but a requirement to be in the Big Ten. All schools but Nebraska, whose membership was revoked after reevaluating agricultural education weight, are members. A Big Ten school is close to saying Ivy League. A school with the Big Ten title will have superior education attached.
Michigan State will have another blue blood to compete for the limelight under as the supreme hoops home. Josh Jackson in the Big Ten to spite MSU would have been perfect. A common criticism is Nebraska does not have many nearby conference schools. Old Big 8 flames can be reunited with KU and ISU. Over in football, the Cy-Hawk trophy can become a plain conference game, instead of needing to be scheduled out of the way. Having the conference stretch into Kansas, while also being in Minnesota, could set up North Dakota State to join in the future.
Baylor and TCU head out west
Coming off of a Men’s Basketball Championship, Baylor is a hot commodity for any conference. The PAC 12 just had UCLA make a cinderella run to the final four. Like Thanos collecting the infinity stones, the Pacific Atheltic Conference can add more legendary programs to its gauntlet. With Texas Christain, the football scene gets even more competitive, with Oregon, the Los Angeles Schools, and TCU being perennial contenders for that championship. Although shaky in recent years, they can for sure compete. Looking at the finances, the new PAC 14 will be rolling in money. They would have 5 private institutions, giving them massive financial stability. This move is a no-brainer if the Big 12 gets consumed.
Texas Tech and Oklahoma State tag along
Why stop at just 16? The consensus greatest conference in Baseball and Football, and a good one in basketball is the SEC. Imagine besides adding the factories that produced two-sport great Kyler Murray and pro bowlers like Quandre Diggs, you can combine the home of prospects like Josh Jung with the machine that made Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, along with the creator of Cade Cunningham meeting the farm where Devin Booker and De’Aaron Fox popped out of. An 18 team SEC can bring the best of all worlds together. In some down years, the SEC is just Kentucky and maybe Florida in basketball. With the addition of four more well-rounded schools, someone will always be there to challenge. Texas Tech, Texas, and Texas A&M can relive the days of old in the SWC, battling it out in football. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are Twin 1 and Twin 2. Separating them seems impossible. With the new sponsorship legislation, players would have their own quasi-league to play in and profit off of. A lot of teams mean more teams to brag playing against. The SEC would make itself the definitive southern conference.
K-State and WVU Bolster AAC
Kansas State and West Virginia do not belong in any other power conference. Instead, they would revive one. Between Houston’s hoops and Cincy on the gridiron, the American Athletic Conference showed to the world why they exist. Adding miscellaneous schools is their game plan, and it seems to work. Take the best rejects, and you have good teams. From Florida to Texas into the heartland, they’ll take who they can get. Kansas State could have a local rivalry with Witchita St., and West Virginia with Cinncinati. As a former Big East member, WVU has some history with a few of the schools. With seasons like Cinncinatti had in football, going undefeated in the regular season, and having schools like Witchita State return to 2013 cinderella form, alongside perhaps drawing from other conferences, the AAC will stand a chance.
Why not Replenish?
Replenishing the Big Twelve would not be a good idea unless they want to make the transition into obscurity. The modern AAC took such a path and is in serious need of a revival. There are not that many well-rounded schools to poach from, and the Big Twelve is not going to become a football conference or basketball conference. The conference was a big piece in NCAA history, but it is time to say goodbye.