How Will the Big 12 Look in 2012?
With so much uncertainty around the Big 12, I give my prediction on what it will look like heading into the 2012 season.
This is a prediction and only goes on what we have learned thus far. Texas A&M is gone. There is no chance for the Aggies to stick around. The Texas legislature no longer has the power it had during the downfall of the SWC that forced the Big 12 to take Baylor and Texas Tech over TCU and Houston. This is also assuming Missouri is not heading to the SEC, which their AD, Mike Alden, has made clear, despite what news outlets are reporting.
There are many different choices out there, but I'm assuming the Big 12 will get back to 12 teams. It is possible that they will play with just 10, but I am led to believe that it is the general consensus that they want to bring that number back up to 12.
The top 10 contenders: TCU, Houston, SMU, Louisville, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Air Force, BYU, Colorado State, Nevada.
*Notice, no SEC team was included, because it is ludicrous to think anyone would leave the SEC.
Big 12 North
Big 12 South
I think that would be the last year of the Big 12 (if it even makes it that long), but those would be the most likely replacements.
The Big 12 won't have their pick of the litter. Every member of the Big 12 has spoken out against the Longhorn Network. Colorado and Nebraska have already left and A&M is currently cleaning out their desk. Add Mizzou petitioning hard to get into the Big 10 last season, and their President insulting the academic standards of OSU and Texas Tech and you have a misfit group of members who don't trust each other. Lastly, throw in ESPN trying to strong arm Texas Tech into playing against UT on the Longhorn Network and you have a terrible perception that won't attract the cream of the crop.
Notre Dame will not leave its independence to join up with the Big 12, in any format. They hold no natural rivalries and their prestige would take a hit.
BYU isn't a viable option either, for the same reasons as Notre Dame, but to a lesser extent.
Louisville, Cincinnati and TCU won't jump ship from the Big East. Sure, the Big East doesn't have much going for it, but it has strides more stability and has proven to be much more unified than the Big 12.
Nevada doesn't add anything that they couldn't find in Colorado State.
Dan Beebe, in all his infinite wisdom, actually believes adding UH will replace A&M's presence in the Houston market. It won't, not at all, but he thinks it will so we just have to accept that.
Colorado State would re-expand the Big 12's presence into the state of Colorado, and would be eager to be in an AQ conference.
The Air Force Academy would instantly add a national following, and, like Colorado State, would jump at the opportunity to be in an AQ Conference.
None of these replacements would add to the Big 12's prestige or increase it's public perception as a power house, but these are the easiest schools to steal away from lesser conferences. Furthermore, they wouldn't be competitive, at all, but would stop the bleeding for a season or two and give the Big 12 time to find a long term solution, which they won't find. The Big 12 has no chance at any longevity until Dan Beebe is replaced and UT comes to an understanding with the remaining powers in the conference (OU, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas Tech) regarding the Longhorn Network.