Big 12 Conference Realignment: Top Winners & Losers

June 16, 2010

Once again an ESPN "scoop" has turned out to be completely false, as Texas, Oklahoma, and several other schools from the Big 12 decided to remain with their conference rather than join the Pac-10.

By the time the dust had settled and all rumors of a new mega-conference era had ceased, relatively little had changed.

The Big 10 added one school in Nebraska. The Pac-10 expanded by perhaps two universities with its inclusion of Colorado, and possibly Utah. The Mountain West added ambitious Boise State, only to potentially lose Utah. The SEC's late attempt to add Texas A & M failed. And the Big 12 - the conference thought to be on the verge of extinction - remained intact despite losing two of its schools.

So with all this tinkering, the real question becomes: who came out ahead?

The Winners

1. Texas

When Texas realized that it was the true prize in the Pac-10's plans, the Longhorns quickly emerged as shotcallers in the whole realignment process. Texas used the Pac-10's courtship as leverage with the Big 12, positioning itself as a financial giant in the years ahead by negotiating the rights to have its own television network. Furthermore, it no longer has to deal with the likes of Nebraska or Colorado in its league competition.

2. Colorado

Colorado is joining the Pac-10 at a time when the conference is arguably up for grabs in football due to USC's recent NCAA penalties. Moreover, Colorado's move also happens to be a better geographic fit.

During Colorado's early 90's heyday, the school lived off such California recruits as stars Eric Bieniemy and Darian Hagan. Now the football program can recruit more actively in talent-rich California, as coaches can pitch blue chippers on the opportunity to compete before family and friends when Colorado plays its West Coast league games.

3. Utah

Under the former coaches Rick Majerus and Urban Meyer, Utah has had its moments of athletic glory from time to time. Even more impressive was its 2009 destruction of SEC power Alabama in a BCS bowl. Despite those occasional victories, Utah's stigma as a "small" school has never left, making any national championship hopes an uphill battle.

Joining the Pac-10 is a real game-changer for the Utes, assuming it makes the move as rumored. From an academic standpoint, Utah will be joining a league filled with such elite scholastic institutions as Stanford, Cal, and UCLA. From an athletics perspective, Utah will be competing in a power conference, enhancing its likelihood for a BCS berth.

4. Big 12

A week ago, the Big 12 was on life support with no hope of seeing 2011. Now it is moving forward with ten teams, including football powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas. Although a stable future is not guaranteed, for now the conference emerged from its crisis magnificently, with a second chance at NCAA existence.

A relatively intact Big 12 also brought smiles to the likes of Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State, as no power conference wanted to add those schools. Had the Big 12 disbanded, many of those universities would have been relegated to mid-major conferences.

5. Big 10

The Big 10 expanded to its twelfth team, adding a prestigious football program with a great "name" tradition in Nebraska. Such a move should elevate the perception of Big 10 football as a whole.

6. Nebraska

Nebraska joined a power conference with a great tradition in a move that should provide a financial boost to its athletic department. The move also makes good sense for Nebraska given its geographic location.

7. Kansas

One of the more interesting aspects to the Big 12 realignment saga was that Kansas would have been left in the cold despite its perennially elite top 25 basketball program.

The reason? Kansas' football program is mediocre, and in collegiate athletics, football is what brings in the big bucks. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, they will remain in a power conference.

8. The Other Conferences

Minimal change equals stability for the NCAA's other conferences. A Pac-16 would have forced the SEC into adding ACC schools. The Big 10 might have tried to raid the Big East. The net effect would have been a couple of massive, powerful leagues, a few depleted conferences, and some mid-majors struggling to compete with all the changes. Keeping things more or less status quo helped the other conferences.

The Losers

1. Pac-10

The Pac-10 deserves props for its ambitious plans to add six Big 12 teams to its conference. It was a bold move that would have added the best of the Big 12 in Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, without having to take on too many of the other second-rate junk programs from that league. When Colorado confirmed its switch to the Pac-10, all the dominoes seemingly were in place for a conference windfall.

Unfortunately, Texas and Oklahoma backed out of the deal, leaving the Pac-10 larger, but not necessarily better.

Colorado and Utah are two decent, but unspectacular programs which could arguably dilute the athletic quality of league competition. For a league that has been incorrectly perceived in football as "USC and a bunch of other teams," these two moves do little to change that stereotype. Ironically, the worst of the two schools is the one from the power conference, as Colorado has essentially done nothing in football or basketball for the last decade.

Although a 12-team Pac-10 now can have a lucrative conference championship game, that does not necessarily help its strength of schedule concerns or rebut the unfair notion that it is a "no defense" football league.

2. Boise State

Boise State jumped from one mid-major conference to another with the hope that the Mountain West's quality competition would improve its BCS chances. Unfortunately, one of those quality opponents - Utah - is on the verge of leaving to the Pac-10. Not a total disaster for Boise State, but the Utah defection undermines the Broncos' goals somewhat.

3. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys missed out on the academic prestige that would have come with its Pac-10 affiliation, as UCLA, Stanford, and Cal all are top of the line scholastic institutions.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...