Any time I try to write these things (whatever this is), I try to think of something that hasn’t been written. That’s both time-consuming and difficult because I typically don’t get to write this until after a full day of people making good points on Twitter or our staff on Slack.
My first point here is that we don’t need to re-hash what happened yesterday, which is that Texas and Oklahoma announced they would not be renewing their membership in the Big 12 past 2025, all of this was expected. That’s a satisfactory summary.
Matt Brown (a college football writer) had what I thought were two good points, which we will take one at a time.
Realignment take #1:
There is no universe based on anything we know now where Baylor becomes a Pac-12 school or Oklahoma State becomes a Big Ten school.
This has been my thought for a while, which is that we really don’t know what the conferences really want other than what universities are chosen to join their conferences. We know that recently there are almost no religious institutions that have been chosen in the more recent realignment history. They’ve generally all been state schools. Although I admittedly didn’t know what Rutgers was and it was a private school (Queens College), but is now a land-grant state school.
So at the very least, programs like Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas and Iowa State have that going for them. This is a new time, so my thought is that things could change, but that hasn’t been the history thus far.
I believe this second point from Brown is also true:
Realignment take #2:
If the remaining Big 12 schools cannot find other conference homes and must expand, their biggest need is eyeballs, not TV markets, or even brands.
There’s really only one school that can promise eyeballs. They really ought to call BYU *first*.
Regardless of religious affiliation, I think this is probably true as well, in that if you want to add eyeballs, then any expansion should begin with BYU if the point of expansion is to add eyeballs on televisions, which I think has been a pretty accurate truism. And this isn’t everyone’s favorite subject, but Houston might be next in line in terms of eyeballs.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodds succinctly points out that without Texas and Oklahoma, the payout will be a significant drop:
“When you’re losing two of the most visible programs, the network has the right to come and say, ‘We’re going to reduce the rights by X.'” one longtime, high-profile administrator said.
That means the Big 12 deal could drop from $37 million in annual revenue to as low as $9 million per school. Considering there aren’t two schools available that come close to replacing the value of Texas and Oklahoma, the Big 12 is in troubled waters to say the least.
Dodds also does point out that Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to the Pac-12 does make sense, which we all sort of know this is a possibility:
The eight remaining Big 12 schools need a home. It’s unlikely that all of them would go to the Pac-12, but two — Oklahoma State and Texas Tech — would be attractive additions. That gets the Pac-12 into two states that could increase cable subscriptions (subscription fees) for its rightsholders.
If it does nothing, the Pac-12 is going to get a revenue bump after its current deal with ESPN and Fox expires in three years. There is also the diminished Pac-12 Network that apparently will continue but needs a massive reboot.
This, at least to me, is the best possible route for Texas Tech. I don’t care about cultural fit, I care about staying in a Power 5 conference more than anything else.
If that door doesn’t work, then I’d be up for CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli who suggests that the Big 12 go big and increase to 14 members. If you can’t get into the Pac 12, then grab the best markets left that create opponents that you can hate (and I mean this in the best way, opponents that build rivalries):
I can’t speak to how TV networks would view it, but I’d watch this version of Big 12 football.
For me, these are the two best options, inclusion into the Pac-12 or expanding with BYU and other teams. I know that the other option would be to wrapped up in the American Athletic Conference, but that’s pretty far down my list of preferences (as if I have a choice).