Dissolving the Big 12: Best Destinations for Remaining Teams
The landscape of college football changed forever in July. Oklahoma and Texas, the two most profitable and name-brand schools in the Big 12, announced their intent to force their way out of the conference and join the SEC. With the news, the Big 12 took a massive blow that it will not recover from. The eight remaining teams are scrambling for the lifeboats, but which conferences do they belong in?
Kansas and Iowa State: Big Ten
Rumors have already begun to swirl about these two teams leaving for the Big Ten. They are geographical fits, and are both members of the Association of American Universities, an academic prerequisite for joining the conference.
Kansas has consistently fielded one of the worst football teams in America, but its elite basketball program is a huge draw.
The Big Ten giants will have to accept that their schedule includes an automatic, but unimpressive, win as a tradeoff.
Iowa State’s built-in rivalry with Iowa plays in its favor. The Cyclones have had a poor football program until last season, when they reached the Big 12 Championship Game and defeated Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Time will tell if Iowa State is for real, but there is no better way for them to prove it than in the Big Ten.
West Virginia: ACC
West Virginia has a long-running rivalry with Penn State, but the Mountaineers are not a member of the AAU. Nonetheless, they are more of a natural fit for the ACC than the Big 12, where they are hundreds of miles away from their closest competitor.
As an ACC school, West Virginia would be within a stone’s throw of both Virginia and Pitt, whom it played against as members of the defunct Big East conference.
The Mountaineers would be near the bottom of the pecking order in the ACC, and certainly not a long-term threat to Clemson, but they would fill in nicely as a new team.
The Horned Frogs joined the Big 12 in 2012, making them the conference’s most recent addition.
Previously, they had played in the Mountain West conference, part of the “Group of Five”. While they could just as easily return to their former haunt, the AAC has emerged as the strongest of the Group of Five and a contender to fill the void the Big 12 is set to leave.
The AAC boasts several teams with recent success, including Memphis, Cincinnati and UCF.
Houston and SMU, two Texas teams, would be immediate rivals for TCU as well.
Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech: Pac-12
With the Big 12 dissolved, the Pac-12 would become the conference on the shakiest ground. It may be in its best interests to scoop up Big 12 teams as part of an expansion into the South.
Long-distance travel for games would be addressed by four teams going over instead of two, and the Pac-12’s farthest east team, Colorado, borders both Oklahoma and Kansas.
Oklahoma State would lose its rivalry with Oklahoma, but the SEC is not likely to take them in anyways. A 16-team Pac-12, name change pending, would give the super conference a vice grip on the western half of the country and secure its future as well.
Adam Babetski is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.