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Texas and Oklahoma talk about switching conferences. What does it mean for college football?

NCAA football logo Jpeg

College football is ready to start here in about two weeks. One big announcement that has shaken the football world is that Big 12 founding members Oklahoma and Texas have expressed an interest in leaving the conference and joining the SEC. This has sent shockwaves all-around college Football for a few reasons. As of July 30th, the SEC has extended, and BOTH schools have accepted that invitation.

Fans, conference administrators, players, coaches, and recruits asking many questions?

*What is this move all about?

*What happens to the Big 12?

*What will the Big Ten, Pac-12, and ACC do?

*How does the AAC figure into this?

*What does it mean for the NCAA?

What is this move all about?

This move is about two things FOOTBALL and MONEY. In the NCAA, those two things go together like milk and honey. In terms of college, athletics football is the economic driver for all other sports. Yes, Men's basketball is a big draw also. In some areas, Women's basketball, men's baseball, and Women's softball do well. FOOTBALL is the KING of the mountain when it comes to media contracts, especially alumni donations. There is no higher profile of a football conference than the SEC. In my opinion, this is purely a numbers game. The SEC has 14 teams the Big 12 has 10. The SEC offers more competition, which makes its members a hotter commodity to potential recruits. Suppose you have the chance to play on some of the biggest football platforms like Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida, teams that roll off of football fans' tongues. As a recruit, that is a very tempting offer no matter which school makes the offer. This is not meant to belittle the ACC, Big TEN, or Pac-12, but there is no comparison between football. The SEC boasts Six teams in the current preseason top 25, three teams in the top 6 (Alabama #1, Georgia #5, and Texas A&M #6). Both Texas and Oklahoma stand to make significant gains in terms of football revenue, not to mention an upgrade in recruits and coaches they can get. Plus, it will almost guarantee that the SEC WILL control college football.

What happens to the Big 12?

Big 12 logo Jpeg

The Big 12 was formed in 1996. When the Big 8 and Southwest Conference(SWC) merged, it formed a 12 team conference.

The Big 8 consisted of Colorado, Kansas, Kansas St, Missouri, Iowa St., Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma St. Four schools from the SWC Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Baylor made the to form the new conference. Then as early as 2010, elements have been trying to pull it apart. It was rumored that the Big Ten had made overtures to Nebraska and Missouri. The Pac 10 courted Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma St. to merge for a 16 team super conference. The only schools that moved were Colorado to the Pac Ten, and Nebraska joined the Big TEN. Later squabbles over the TV revenue(mostly due to the University of Texas and the Longhorn Network) would prompt other schools to consider offers. Texas A&M left for the SEC in 2011. In 2012 Missouri followed. The Big 12 was able to shore up those losses by adding Texas Christian and West Virginia. BUT at only ten teams(soon to be eight), they are the weakest power five.

While ten years ago, it was significant when Nebraska and Missouri left. It did not have the impact that a Texas and Oklahoma move will. Not only are they founding members, but they are also the two biggest football draws in the conference. This departure could be the proverbial straw the breaks the camel's back. It essentially creates a vacuum of top football competition in that conference. Schools in the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 use their conferences to recruit top programs and athletes. Schools use the success of the conference to recruit. You talk to a football recruit and say The SEC has more teams in the top ten than any other conference, and they are usually right. The Big 12 have trouble competing in that arena and WILL NOT be able to once Texas and Oklahoma leave.

Can the Big 12 fill the void? That is possible in terms of numbers. They could get 2 or 4 schools to sign up, but nothing with Texas and Oklahoma's talent or competition level. They could try to raid other conferences like the American Athletic Conference for teams like; East Carolina, Cincinnati, Houston. They could look to the Mountain West for BYU, Boise State, Colorado State, or the University of New Mexico. They could look at the SWAC for at least a geographical fit with Texas Southern.

There are options there but not really enough to replace the WOW factor of what they will lose. The Big 12, in my mind, will have to consider a merger or a complete disbanding. They need at least 12 teams to be a viable power five conference. And while the programs listed above would be great assets, it would take the cream of that crop to make it happen.

What will the other conferences do?

The Pac-12

Pac -12 logo via Ryan Kang- AP

The Pac-12 does not stray too far from the west coast. Colorado and Arizona are about as far as they have moved. However, when you look at a 16 team SEC. If you want to stay relevant, expansion is your only option. There have been rumors of the Pac-12 talking merger with the Big 12. This would be a 20 team super conference that would stretch the entire length of the United States. The most logical division plan would be to put Utah and Colorado in with the Big 12 schools as one and then the remaining Pac-12 schools as the other. At the same time, a 20 team super conference would rival the total money of a 16 team SEC. It would still lack much significant gain on the football side of the ledger.

Having said that, not all Big 12 schools MAY NOT think that a good option (West Virginia comes to mind). Another option is for the Pac-12 to expand regionally to the Southwest. With Arizona and Arizona St. as members of the Pac-12, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, and even Oklahoma St. would make good fits. Also, with Colorado, you could add Kansas or Kansas St.(although those would be more beneficial as basketball additions than football). In any event, I don't see the Pac-12 standing pat.

The Big Ten

Big Ten logo via sports logos .net

The Big Ten is a tricky and picky conference to join. They have always been very selective in who they let in. They have a fairly strict enrollment size and academic requirements. They also require membership in the American Association of Universities. The Big Ten has raided the Big 12 in the past. While at 14 teams, they could stand pat and hold their own, there is some allure to teams from the Big-12.

In 2010 Nebraska defected to the Big Ten (they also wanted Missouri). Covering several states from Nebraska to Maryland and New Jersey, The Big Ten has the size and breadth to expand. If they were to add common sense, it would be to add West Virginia in the East to fit with Rutgers, Maryland, and Penn State. Teams like Kansas, Kansas St, or Iowa St from the West fit in with Nebraska and Iowa. Here is where it becomes tricky. The requirement of being a member of the American Association of Universities, only Kansas and Iowa St. fit that bill. Both would be good fits and could set up natural rivalries. As a football move, it does not move the needle that much. However, it would be a BOOM for basketball to add Kansas to the Big Ten portfolio.


ACC logo via wikipedia jpeg

The ACC is always more thought of as a basketball conference. With Duke, North Carolina, Louisville, and NC St., They also have Clemson, Florida St., Georgia Tech, University of Miami, Pitt, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, who boast some pretty good football programs. They would most likely be interested in West Virginia, which would give them a 13 team conference. So they could be inclined to look at another team from that region. Someone like East Carolina, perhaps or the could try to make an effort at TCU. Also, a school like Cincinnati could be possible, or they could remain at 13 for now and see what else shakes out. There were rumors about Florida St and Clemson jumping to the SEC, but those are unfounded so far. IF the Big 12 does dissolve, the most obvious place for W. Virginia is the ACC. It does not seem that expansion is as big an issue with the ACC as with other conferences. But to add the Mountaineers to the football landscape would not be a bad thing and highly doable.

American Athletic Conference

The American Athletic Conference could play a role here. There have been unconfirmed rumors that they have approached the Big-12 for a merger giving them a 19 team conference. This would move the needle in football by

adding Oklahoma St, Iowa St, and Baylor. It would up the level of competition for sure in the AAC. More so than any of the other conferences, they also have the footprint to pull it off. Mostly based in the East (East Carolina, Temple Navy, South Florida, and UCF). Also, what used to be the Mid-South Cincinnati and Memphis and in South with Tulsa, Tulane, SMU, and Houston. The only two teams that would be outside of their current footprint would be Kansas, Kansas St. Iowa St. Although an argument could be made for the two Kansas schools and Iowa St. Even a 16 team conference (just adding the Texas schools, Oklahoma St. and W. Virginia) would be a nice football upgrade and a good revenue boost. They could rival both the Pac-12 and SEC in terms of media coverage in the south. They would take a big share of the Texas market and add to their East Coast presence.

What does it mean for the NCAA?

BCS logo via Steve Mitchel-USA TODAY sports

With the possibility of super conferences popping up, such as a 14 or even 16 team SEC or a 19 team AAC. It would represent a huge power shift. To that, there are now reports of the Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, and even (should they stay afloat) the Big -12 forming an alliance of sorts not only for scheduling and such but as a voting block against the SEC to keep it honest, so to speak. With actions such as this, it is not hard to envision the NCAA stepping in at some point to try to regain control. There have been many different ideas on how this could be done.

You could have a regional option of West, Midwest, (North or Upper Midwest), Northeast and South. Creating 23 team super conferences. While doable as you could use the ACC, Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12, and Big-12/ AAC footprints. It would require shifting several teams to fit logistically. Essentially ending the current conference structures and some long-standing conference rivalries.

Another idea would be to reshape the 10 football conferences over a period of 5 years. Shifting teams on a sub-regional basis, teams like Tennessee, West Virginia, Penn State, and Maryland going to the ACC. Notre Dame, Louisville, and Kentucky going to the Big Ten, Texas, Texas A&M, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska would be pushed back into Big-12. Duke and NC St would get pushed to the AAC. While keeping the conferences intact, name only would ruin some of the natural conference rivalries currently in place.

Other options.

The NCAA could set limits on expansion in geographic reach, enrollment, set, say, a cap on the teams a conference can have, or even set revenue standards. There are many possibilities. it is clear that the NCAA is losing control, and they will have to do something soon

My final thought.

If the break up of the Big-12 is allowed to happen and schools literally put up for the highest bidder. It will further enforce the feeling of the NCAA being an organization of the haves and have nots. This is going to be very tricky to navigate. As the Big-12 does holds 6 Bowl game affiliations, at least for the next few years.

The Sugar Bowl vs. the SEC

The Alamo Bowl vs. the Pac-12

The Cheez-it Bowl vs. at ACC

The Texas Bowl vs. the SEC

The Liberty Bowl vs. the SEC

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs. the Big Ten.

However, if they are down to 8 teams, I see a couple of those Bowls looking elsewhere.

While this is about football for a team like Kansas or Baylor, having a basketball swagger is also valuable. Keep an eye out as there will be more to come.

Thanks for reading, Comment if you want or drop me a line on Twitter @BiGD_GCS

So long for now!

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