With Texas and Oklahoma on their way out the door, the Big 12 is almost on life-support.
A decade ago, they dropped down to 10 teams after Missouri and Texas A&M left for the Deep South tailgate parties, and now they’re losing their two most valuable programs.
The eight remaining teams aren’t enough to remain a “power conference,” but it looks like they might be able to cut their losses by replacing the Sooners and Longhorns with some quality brands.
The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported Friday “at least 15 schools” are interested in joining the Big 12, per a CBSsports article. One big name that surfaced the other day was BYU, who has been independent since 2011.
Before that, the Cougars were part of the Mountain West from 1999-2010.
“What about before 1999?” you might be asking. The Western Athletic Conference (WAC), that today has some of the worst Division 1 basketball programs in the country. They were there from 1962-1998. The Cougars don’t need to remain independent and would probably gain a lot from joining. A report Friday by The Athletic’s Andy Staples and Max Olson got the rumors going.
BYU joining would give the conference a much-needed boost financially and athletically, but they’d need more. Five years ago the conference rejected the requests of UCF, Memphis, Cincinnati, Houston, and others interested in joining, but now adding those teams would be very beneficial—especially Houston. The Cougars have a strong football program and a men’s basketball team that just went to the Final Four.
Without getting at least BYU and Houston, I’m not sure if the Big 12 can remain relevant and avoid fading into a mid-major. Survival will depend on adding teams, and it’s good to see the league trying to do just that. None of the eight remaining teams, and especially not the 2021 NCAA Tournament champions, should have to shop around for a new home in the Group of 5 conferences right now. They deserve better.