Big 12 to Pac-10: Don’t Mess with Texas

The story today is that the rest of the Big 12 seems to be staying put.  The big gun, Texas, has rejected the Pac-10’s overtures, and will (for the moment) stay in the Big 12, or whatever the 10 team conference will be called.

Texas A&M has also reportedly pledged to stay in the Big Whatever, instead of moving to either the Pac-10 or the SEC.

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have also pledged their loyalty to the league.

The other Big Whatever schools (Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State, and Texas Tech) were not mentioned, but with most of them in danger of being left out in the cold if Texas and others moved out of the league, they are all pretty motivated to hang in.  The one exception might be Missouri, which tried pretty hard to move to the Big Ten, but has thus far been rebuffed.

Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma all stand to make more than the other league members, at $20M, with Texas earning perhaps another $5M if it establishes its own network.  It’s been reported that the other schools will make between $14M and $17M, nearly double what they currently earn.  This is confusing because at the moment, the league stands to lose its lucrative Conference Championship game with only 10 members.

The current rumor is that the Pac-10 will invite Utah to grow the league to 12 teams, allowing for a lucrative football Conference Championship game, as reported by

That’s curious, because Utah is a school with definite religious affiliations, and I’m sure I read on the same site just a few days ago that the Pac-10 might not want Baylor, due to religious affiliations.  In fact, here is a twitter attributed to columnist Chip Brown (as listed on

“Baylor’s addition to the Pac-10 being met with resistance by Cal-Berkeley bec of Baylor’s religious ties.”

Regardless of that particular issue, it seems likely that the Pac-10 will stop at 12 teams.

The question is, what will the other leagues do?

  • Will the Big Ten be satisfied with Nebraska and a 12 team league (with Conference Championship game?
  • Will the Big Whatever move to replace Nebraska and Colorado to get back to the magical 12 teams?  How else do they hit the projected revenue?
  • Will the SEC stand pat at 12 teams?
  • How about the ACC, also at 12 teams?
  • Will the Big East finally do something proactive to strengthen itself and prevent future (or current) poaching?

Honestly, I’m not sure what the Big East could do at this point without upsetting the uneasy balance that may have been achieved.  I have been all for kicking out Notre Dame, but that might entice the Big Ten, which could restart the entire process.

The problem is, I can’t believe the Big Whatever is willing to stand pat with 10 teams, and if they invite 2 teams, then the entire process starts again.  And if the Texas deal is any indication, could Notre Dame join the league?

If I could magically move some teams around to balance out the leagues (without regard to rivalries, animosities, etc), I think I’d do one of the following:

The simplest scenario puts Notre Dame (with a Texas-like deal) and SMU in the Big 12, with Temple replacing SMU in Conference USA.  Perhaps some of that doesn’t make geographic sense, but it restores the Big 12, and Temple is a 13th wheel in the Mid-American Conference anyway.  And losing Notre Dame doesn’t hurt the Big East.

The other scenario require more shuffling:

  • Move TCU and SMU (or Houston) to the Big Whatever, restoring it to the Big 12.  Geographically, this seems to make some sense.
  • Replace SMU with Temple in Conference USA.  Temple is really out of sorts playing football in the Mid-American Conference anyway. Okay, I’m not sure it make any sense for Temple geographically, but neither does the Mid-American, and Temple could play all of its sports in Conference USA, instead of just football.
  • Move Utah State from the Western Athletic to the Mountain West, giving both conferences 8 teams.  You could argue that this would be replacing Utah with Utah State. My bad: Boise St. has already announced that it will move to the Mountain West.

I’m not sure any of this helps the unwieldy Big East in the long run, because it stays at a bare minimum 8 football teams, with 16 basketball teams.  The minimum size in football makes the league susceptible to future expansions, while the number of basketball teams limits expansion.

It will be interesting to watch the scenarios play out over the next few days or weeks.


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