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Imagining a Big 12 Conference With, You Know, 12 Teams (and Both Arizona Schools)



A piece on CBS Sports caught my eye about conference realignment discussions – and it had to do with what appears to be festering wounds in the Left (out of the playoff) Coast Conference. After detailing how the season’s premium match up in league play was delayed for a NASCAR truck race, third tier rights drew in a whopping $2.5m a head, and the fewest appearances in the CFP (five), a picture of discontent (and therefore opportunity) was painted.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s for a direct quote from Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson.

“No one is satisfied with the [revenue] production of the Pac-12 Network…” [CBS Sports]

Suffice it to say the calming sounds of the Pacific Ocean aren’t easing tensions for the Bay Area-based league. It’s long been thought that Arizona and Arizona State are the Big 12’s best shot at a post-Louisville poach job.

So let’s fantasize.

I’ve got two potential league setups with the Arizona schools included with obvious objections noted in each scenario.

League Setup 1: Reasonable Geography


Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor, Arizona, Arizona State


Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, K-State, Kansas, West Virginia, Iowa State

It goes without saying but playing three teams in the other division every year allows for protected crossovers: Red River, The Real Guns Up Showdown (OSU-Tech), etc.

The obvious issue here is the Bedlam Schools and the Big 12 north teams not being able to pitch a guaranteed handful of games in Texas each year — a major thorn in OSU’s paw.

It does feel most reasonable geographically with all true “southwest” teams and more midwestern teams together. TV executives would love the potential of Red River Part 2, but you could argue that it’s easier to get that as the league currently stands with 10 teams.

League Setup 2: Texas Recruits for Everyone

Land Grant Institutions

Texas Tech, Arizona State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU

State Schools

Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arizona, West Virginia, Baylor

You split the private schools up and parcel out the Texas schools evenly, and you calm the arguments about recruiting in the Lone Star State. You have to guarantee the appropriate crossovers annually: Bedlam, Sunflower Showdown, Arizona schools, Texas-Texas Tech, the Revivalry, and West Virginia-Iowa State as the table scraps.

When you’ve got three time zones covered, it’ll be hairy but that’s the suboptimal bed the Big 12 has made for itself at this point. But being constructed of true Power-Five level teams that bring more pie to the table than they take away makes it worthwhile.

The 900-pound gorilla in the room is why would the Arizona schools leave stability for what once appeared a terminal conference. But in all reality, if the Big 12 did dismember: would Larry Scott and the Pac-12 really not take the Arizona schools back along with the other Big 12 schools that would likely wind up out west?


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