Week two of the season came and went this past Saturday and while it certainly didn’t offer the same drama on the field within the Big 12 Conference, the Topsy-turvy on goings of the conference’s realignment only continued to boil.
The domino effect related to what will eventually be decided by suits in Norman, Oklahoma has everyone related to the current Big 12 Conference on pins and needles. Message boards are busier than ever and conspirators have plenty of opinions to share as this drama continues to unfold. The internet era, more influential than ever, has influenced the spread of bad feelings, jealousy and uncertainty that envelopes fans everywhere.
And all the while, I still wonder, why can’t we just make the most sensible thing work?
I speak, like many of you, to the notion of maintaining the Big 12 Conference. Of all the options present to each and every of the conference’s members, mending our differences seems like a no-brainer.
Let’s stay together and make this work. Is that really too much to ask?
Is keeping a conference housed of several Texas schools, headquartered in the Lone Star State, that utilizes and capitalizes on a hotbed of homegrown talent worthy of being ripped at its seems?
Last I checked, exactly half of the conference (five teams) is ranked in the AP top 25. If Nebraska was still welcome at the dinner table there would have six. If Missouri had won Friday night in Tempe, there would be seven. Can any other league say that?
Still, it’s the Big 12 Conference that has slowly become little brother to ‘better cultural fits’ in the SEC, a more suitable ‘match’ for the Pac 12 and an ‘upgrade to the academic best interests’ that the Big 10 offers.
Do we need to be reminded of just how powerful, influential and trend-setting this conference was, still is and should continue to be? Until this season, the Big 12 was the only league that originally formed with 12 members in two different six team divisions. Remember when that was seen as forward-thinking, smart and innovative?
This was the only league that, from its inception, included a ‘post season’ league championship game. While other leagues decided their conference champ via mind-bending tiebreakers, the Associated Press or even worse, a vote amongst conference presidents (yep, this is how the Big Ten chose it’s conference representative for the Rose Bowl for an eternity), the Big 12 staged a title game.
Decided between white lines. Played in a city and stadium that an NFL franchise called home.
Yet, just 16 years after this ‘game changing’ league formed, it appears this conference is the one truly in jeopardy of falling completely apart.
I suppose something could be said for the advent of the 16 team ‘super conference.’
There isn’t an Aggie I know who isn’t thrilled for weekend road trips to achievable-in-one-day driving distances being replaced with airfare to college towns four and five states away.
The notion of playing in the Pac 16 is more than logical for Oklahoma. After all, they have a legion of alumni in Oregon, California and Washington.
We all know it’s best to throw out the records when Nebraska and Purdue face off this time of year.
For those schools likely to be left in the dark, their inevitable move, whether it be to the Big East, Mountain West or Conference USA, would have our fans foaming at the mouth to welcome new rivals Air Force, Boston College and Memphis to town.
Give me a break.
The Big 12 Conference, it’s schools and its fans deserve better. The direction of college athletics (football in particular) is the problem.
The temptation of bigger TV contracts, heightened exposure in new markets and stability in an unstable college football landscape has certainly caught the dollar-filled pupils of many.
If and when, those same people realize these factors have had absolutely nothing to do with what makes college athletics so unique so celebrated ever comes into play, we’ll all be okay.
Until then, the Big 12 Conference has some new invitations to the dinner table that need to be mailed out.