What Now For the Big 12 and College Football?
Fast forward to the year 2024. The 8-team College Football Playoff is about to commence with the winners of the 4 Super Conferences and their wild card teams squaring off against each other in the quest to hoist the coveted Dr Pepper Championship Trophy. Tom Herman will lead his Pac 12 champion Texas Longhorns against Bob Stoops and his SEC wild card Oklahoma Sooners in the first matchup on Saturday of what is now known as “Big Game Weekend.” Lane Kiffin and his SEC champion Crimson Tide will kick off the Sunday games with a battle against the Big 10 wild card Fighting Irish. Sound far fetched? Believe me it isn’t, in large part thanks to the Big 12’s announcement Monday that the most dysfunctional conference in the land will stand pat at ten teams and forgo any foreseeable expansion.
In the process of coming to their decision, the conference left BYU, Rice, Houston, Cincinnati, SMU and who knows how many others (we hear 11 total) dangling in the wind with a crushed false hope of jumping into the “big time.” But once it was made clear to the Big 12 presidents and chancellors that the TV money wouldn’t jump along with the addition of schools – their decision was made.
“It was perhaps a little more of a sweepstakes than we might have thought it was gonna be at the very beginning,” Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in quite the understatement. “But it was a very good process.”
The presidents of the schools who jumped through hoops in this dog and pony show most assuredly would beg to differ with his assessment, as they took part in what ultimately amounted to a colossal waste of time and resources for their universities. But I guess that’s their collective problem, not Bowlsby’s or the Big 12’s.
So now what happens to the Big 12 and college football as we know it? Well, the current Big 12 TV contract doesn’t expire for another 8 years, so there’s a good chance the status quo remains in place until then. But when it does run out, look for the two “big boys” to quickly bolt to greener pastures. I expect Texas and Oklahoma to be fielding offers as quickly as they can answer their phones.
Once they leave, and they will (with Oklahoma most likely taking little brother Oklahoma State along for the ride), you can say good bye to the Big 12 as we know it, and the college football landscape will quickly shift to four power conferences as the other Big 12 members scurry to find their own safe havens. Geographic rivalries that have been around for decades will continue to disappear (remember Oklahoma/Nebraska, Texas/Texas A&M?), and fan trips to road game will now require airfare, not just a tank of gas.
In a perfect world all the Big 12 universities will find new homes in the Power 4, but really how often is the world a perfect place? Some potential scenarios are presented below, but there’s no guarantees for any of them besides the Sooners and the Longhorns:
Oklahoma – SEC
Oklahoma State – SEC
Texas – Pac 12
TCU – Pac 12
Texas Tech – Pac 12
Kansas – Big 10
Kansas State – Big 10
Iowa State – Big 10
West Virginia – ACC
Baylor – (Baylor’s recent self inflicted wounds make them a wild card in realignment and vulnerable to being left out in the cold)
Just for kicks here’s a look at what the future of college football may look like when the post season rolls along in 2024….
Big Game Weekend
Saturday’s Games –
Game 1: Pac 12 Champ Texas vs. SEC Wild Card Oklahoma
– game to be played in Austin TX
Game 2: Big 10 Champ Ohio State vs. ACC Wild Card West Virginia
– game to be played in Columbus, OH
Sunday’s Games –
Game 1: SEC Champ Alabama vs. Big 10 Wild Card Notre Dame
– game to be played in Tuscaloosa, AL
Game 2: ACC Champ Florida State vs. Pac 12 Wild Card TCU
– game to be played in Tallahassee, FL
New Year’s Day Games
Game 1: Texas vs. Ohio State – Fiesta Bowl
Game 2: Notre Dame vs. Florida State – Orange Bowl
Ohio State vs. Notre Dame – Rose Bowl
Dr Pepper Champions – The Ohio State Buckeyes win their 4th Championship in 10 years under Urban Meyer, and their 2nd straight after Nick Saban retires.
Check back with me in 8 years and see how accurate I am…..