Another college football season is about to begin and, as usual, there is excitement, mixed with anticipation everywhere throughout the world of the Power 5 conferences.
But nowhere is there more turmoil than in the Big 12. No one–including all the Big 12 insiders–can make an accurate prediction about the future of the conference.
Will it be a predator, looking to add more teams at the expense of other conferences (watch out American Athletic Conference)?
Or will it make a really bold move and possibly poach from say, the Pac-12, where Arizona and Arizona State may be schools of interest. Why either of those schools would choose to leave the Pac is another issue.
Or will it remain at 10, with the constant threat of the Big 10, SEC and Pac-12 looking to make one more move?
Going to a conference championship game with 10 or 12 teams seems to be the only certainty.
The odds favor more conservative internal moves by the Big 12 since the time of conference raiding has almost played itself out.
The most likely scenario would appear to be a move to 12 teams, which would mean 2 divisions and a championship game.
But which two teams?
BYU, Cincinnati, Memphis, Central Florida, South Florida and Connecticut have each been mentioned. But there are obstacles and arguments against all of them.
American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco says he is aware of the chatter, but is not in any kind of panic mode.
“We feel we have a strong conference, with committed members,” said Aresco. “We will just proceed with our business and see what happens.”
A compromise which has been floated–and reportedly backed by some Big 12 heavyweights–is federated expansion which would include only football. Using that plan, BYU, minus the problem of Sunday scheduling, would appear to be a good fit. But other than UConn–which has a dream plan of the Big 12 in football and the Big East in all other sports–there is no logical candidate for the second team.
Some sort of plan or announcement is expected by the end of the summer.
But there is more intrigue involving personnel in the Big 12. Nothing definitive, more rumors and “what ifs” or possibilities that could occur.
Would current Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby consider moving back to the role of athletic director if there was an opening at say….Texas?
Will current Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione–one of the top 5 ADs in the country–make a move to Florida as a replacement for Jeremy Foley–another Top 5 AD–who is retiring in October? Castiglione would and should be on the Gator short list.
The main issue, not involving expansion, is how to deal with Baylor, which has been torn apart by scandal, resulting in a major shake-up in the administration from President to athletic director to football coach.
Baylor had steadily built its athletic reputation in football and men’s and women’s basketball over the past several years, but at what cost?
The talent level in the worst of programs can be improved with the best of coaches and leaders. But when the foundation is tainted, when the reputation and integrity of the school is damaged, there are no easy or short term solutions.
Suffice it to say, Baylor will be a topic of a discussion throughout the football season and beyond.
So enjoy the lazy, crazy, hazy days of the remainder of the summer, but make no mistake that there will be plenty of news coming from the Big 12.
And we at TMG College Sports will be here to observe and comment upon it.