A look at a possible new BIG XII Conference. What I feel like should happen.
By: Eric Horton
Texas Tech and the remaining Big XII schools received more bad news this past week about expansion, or lack thereof, since the July 26, 2021 announcement of OU and UT defecting to the SEC. Last week the ACC, Big 10, and the PAC 12 decided to make an agreement with each other to combat the SEC’s newest expansion taking the BIG XII’s king and queen UT and OU, or vise versa. A couple days later the PAC 12 put out a press release they will not expand their conference. This was a punch to the face for Texas Tech and most likely Oklahoma State because the talk and rumors of these two schools were more than likely going to the PAC 12. Now… it looks like it’s not gonna happen, especially since the remaining eight BIG XII schools decided to stick together.
Some may ask what’s the big deal about OU and UT leaving the BIG XII and heading over the SEC and that’s a good question. Although most folks who are fans of TTU & OK-State have an opinion that they could care less about them jumping ship to basically the mini NFL, however, there are still ramifications for the schools who are left behind picking up the trash that the Sooners and the Longhorns left. That trash is a negative local economic impact for each city that these other schools reside in and the economic impact for the schools themselves. Everyone know it’s all about the money when it comes down to it.
Even though OU and UT have said they will wait till 2025 to actually leave, we all know that will most likely not be the case. It’s real simple… this is why universities like these have high powered attorneys on retainer. They will help these two schools weasel their way out of the contracts. Honestly… so be it! Since we know OU and UT are saying bye, this will give maybe two seasons of football competition for schools like TTU, OK-State, Iowa State, and TCU to get their teams in winning fashion. Let’s face it folks… college football brings in the money! Of these four schools TTU is not looking good to be competitive. Of course this is why we play the season and in college football, which at one time was a true pure form of the sport, anybody can beat anyone on any given Saturday. However I still contend TTU will not come through. We have not seen a decent season in football since… yes I’m gonna say his name… Mike Leach!
These four schools and possibly West Virginia, which by the way the ACC should simply poach them from the BIG XII, will need each an 8-4, 9-3, 10-2, 11-1, or a 12-0 season. It doesn’t matter which teams get these records, but they must show up to the gridiron table and win, and battle, and score and beat the two treasonists. Wouldn’t that be something the next couple of years where OU and UT get sixth or seventh in the BIG XII.
I-State is more than likely to run the table and possibly going 12-0. What’s ironic is that they were not talked about being involved in the PAC 12 expansion, but maybe the Big 10. OK-State would be the next team to do well. Also another possibility of a 12-0 record. TCU has a tough schedule, but it’s winnable. Then there is our dear TTU Red Raiders. Kirby Hocutt got us this guy from Utah State named Matt Wells. His first season he led, and I use the term “led” loosely, with the Red Raiders to a 4-8 season. Then his second season he led the Red Raiders to a 4-6 season. So we will give Wells what some call the “COVID Grace” and he’ll get another season. Honestly since we have not had a winning season since Kingbury first season in 2013, I’m not looking for the Red Raiders to dazzle anyone, maybe I’ll be wrong.
None of this matters though! We must and the other seven must have a great season. Since the remainder of the BIG XII has been hung out to dry from the royals and the other major conferences, this far it’s been nothing but talk. This is the thing, yes the bottom line is money. The TV market continues to expand as our nation continues to grow. Why does the SEC and the others get to reign in all that cash? Who gave them the privilege to cash in on the large TV market? Nobody! How you ask? Well frankly the SEC, OU, UT, Clemson, Ohio St, Michigan, USC, Oregon, all the popular college football teams have done one thing well, and that is winning! You see where I’m going with this? It’s time the remainder of the BIG XII to step up, unite, and steal the thunder!
So who do we bring in to complete and compete in our conference? There are some options, but the BIG XII must be strategic in who they want. The first question we ask and needs to be answered is, “Do we want to stay a 10 school conference or do we want to become a 12,14, or 16 school conference?” Personally I prefer we stay a 10 school conference. Why? Well… each school plays each other. Of course if all this were up to me I would completely change the conference dynamics. There are 130 D-I FBS schools in the NCAA. So if I were in-charge I would split all 130 teams into 13 ten-team conferences. But I digress because we all know this ain’t gonna happen. So yes I prefer the 10 team format, however if the BIG XII wants to stay a “power five” conference, we’ll need to go to at least a 12 team format.
Who would I pick? Well since conference expansion is really all about money and football, I would choose within those confines. There are some TV markets available. As much as I don’t want another team from Texas to join, I’m going to have to break that idea and say we go with Houston. Ole U of H… the Cougars, an old SWC foe. The TV market in Houston runs between the 7th and 8th largest in the US. Their football program has done well in the past several years other than the past two when Dana Holgerson got there. But nonetheless, there’s the market, the money, and a football team who can compete.
Next I would chose Air Force Academy. They are in another prime TV market of Denver Colorado which is 16th in the nation, plus the Colorado Springs/Pueblo TV market which with both markets account for about 2,185,060 households. Thats a lot of people! Also a lot of potential money. I would honestly like to get Colorado State, however we are talking both money and football and football is not really their thing. Air Force has had their coach Troy Calhoun since 2007 and he has a record of 101-72. Honestly not to shabby. Now this would complete the ten team conference format. So… what about a 12 team conference? Lets take a look.
I would’ve never thought Boise State would have a shot at something as big as a “playoff berth” in the new college playoff era. However, they can and they are willing to go that extra mile and are very determined to prove to the power five that they got what it takes. Since 2000 the Broncos have averaged 11 wins a season. (Note: 2020 was not counted in this due to COVID protocol.) Boise State also feels they were shafted in 2009 when they went 14-0 and still ended up #4 in the polls. Throughout the past 20 seasons, Boise St has won several post season bowl appearances against some high profile school like Oregon, TCU, OU, Arizona and Arizona St. So we know they are decent at football, but what about their tv market? There are five TV markets that cover the state of Idaho and combined there are 2,087,500 households in these five markets.
So now we have 11 teams, most of you are probably thinking I should go with BYU. Well… no! They have become finicky in the past few years. Also they refuse to play on Sundays. Now don’t get me wrong I don’t like it when Sunday is taken for granted by sports, but it is what it is. So no to BYU! However lets go get Cincy (Cincinnati). Right now Cincy is in the top 10 in the football rankings and is expected to do pretty well. For the past 13 seasons (not including 2020) the Bearcats have averaged just under nine wins a season and they have been to 10 bowl games in those 13 seasons. Cincy is ripe for the pickin’ for the BIG XII as far as football is concerned. Something else to note about Cincy is they lost the 1951 Sun Bowl to West Texas State which is now called West Texas A&M. Their TV market ranks #37 and has close to one million households in the market.
So what would the divisions look like? Here is what I would do.
West Division or Tex-West
- Texas Tech
- Boise St.
- Air Force
East Division or Fly-over
- Kansas St.
- Iowa St.
- Oklahoma St.
- West Virginia