Reports began coming out yesterday Texas and Oklahoma reached out to the SEC about potentially joining their conference. There is a long way to go before we could see the Longhorns and Sooners actually playing SEC games but it sounds as though there is traction to make it happen. Both schools released statements which did very little to squash any of the rumors. Texas is also rumored to be exploring independence similar to Notre Dame. For the sake of discussion, we will pretend Texas and Oklahoma agreed to join the SEC. Now what happens to the remaining eight members of the Big 12?
Oklahoma State – Oklahoma State put out a statement insisting they would fight any school looking to leave the Big 12. In this hypothetical situation, they lost. Now the Big 12 can look to add schools or completely disband. With limited schools available to add, the remaining top tier teams would look to move to another conference. Oklahoma State nearly joined the Pac-12 about a decade ago. The SEC would be at 16 schools while the Pac-12 would still only have 12. It is reasonable to think they could look to add four more schools. Oklahoma State would be one of their top priorities. The Cowboys would listen to the pitch and most likely decide to join the Pac-12. Expanding the footprint of the Pac-12 would become their priority during the next round of expansion.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders nearly left for the Pac-12 with Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in 2010. With Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12, Texas Tech would most likely look to revisit those previous negotiations of joining the Pac-12. While football has been in a bit of a lull lately, the basketball program was on an upswing until Chris Beard left for Texas. The Red Raiders would most likely not want to wait around and see what a potential Big 12 looks like and possibly have their spot snatched up. The Pac-12 would also see expansion into Texas which would help with recruiting and geographic footprint.
Baylor: If you only watch college football, it will be news to you Baylor won the men’s basketball championship in 2021. Their basketball program alone would be attractive to other conferences. The Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC could all be interested in the Baylor Bears. My current guess would be Baylor would follow Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to continue playing against regional opponents. Unless the Big Ten was able to convince Baylor with a large sum of money, Baylor does not benefit much from heading north or playing on the east coast. The likely scenario would involve Baylor following fellow Big 12 teams to another power five conference. The Pac-12 would have the most openings resulting in mutual interest.
TCU: With the Pac-12 already obtaining two programs from Texas, I am not sure they would have much interest in TCU. When looking at TCU, they play in Fort Worth Texas which is appealing. The problem I see with TCU is their current enrollment. There are less than 12,000 students who attend TCU currently which also means they have a smaller alumni base. For a conference that would be looking to grow, this one does not make a lot of sense. The American Athletic Conference could be the first one knocking at the door. SMU, Houston, Tulsa, and Tulane are all in the general vicinity which makes the American Athletic Conference a logical fit. The Big Ten would likely take a long look at TCU because it would expand their footprint into Texas. The academics stack up with the rest of the Big Ten conference but ultimately the American is where I would see them landing.
Kansas: When you look at Kansas, everyone has to remember it is much deeper than the football program. Yes, their football team is one of the historically bad programs but the basketball program might have more tradition and history than any other university. Kansas brings a lot of attention when they play basketball and they do well with ratings. The Big Ten loves their football but they also love their basketball as well. Kansas fits geographically well with the Big Ten. This also allows Nebraska to renew a series that has been played 117 times. While many think Kansas could be left out because the football program is in poor shape, I believe they would have a lot to offer the Big Ten.
Kansas State: The problem with Kansas State is they are only good at everything. They are not excellent at any particular revenue generating sport. Geographically they are located in Manhattan Kansas which only has about 50,000 people. There are no television markets or metropolitan areas nearby that would attract eyes. The Mountain West conference would make sense for the Wildcats. They would still fit in geographically with Colorado State, Air Force, Utah State, and Wyoming. Their endowment is actually less than Wyoming. It might not be the conference Wildcat fans would want to see the program transition to, but it might be one of their only options.
Iowa State: The Iowa State program is another one that would pose interesting questions. They have a natural tie to Iowa because of their annual rivalry game. The Big Ten would certainly have interest but they also would see there is a limited benefit to adding Iowa State. They already have 1 team in the state of Iowa, why do they need 2? The Pac-12 would pose an interesting discussion. Iowa State has played Colorado when they were part of the Big 12. The distance to Washington and Washington State is not too much further than to the schools in Texas. Adding Iowa State would also give the Pac-12 a footprint in the Midwest and potentially allow for earlier game times. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have always had a working relationship which would allow a rivalry like Iowa State and Iowa to continue with little to no issues.
West Virginia: The West Virginia Mountaineers were added to the Big 12 upon the collapse of the Big East. While West Virginia has not won a conference championship, they have been consistently competitive football. They would also be a great addition to any conference in terms of basketball. The ACC is the most logical choice when looking at West Virginia. They already have rivalries with Pitt and Virginia Tech. The fit in perfectly geographically with the rest of the conference as well. The Big Ten could look into adding West Virginia but they were not interested last time when they added Rutgers and Maryland instead.
If Texas and Oklahoma decide to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, we can expect a domino effect. The Big 12 could look to add schools like Cincinnati, SMU, Houston, BYU, UCF, or Memphis but it might not be enough to maintain a power five school status. The likely scenario would see the other power five conferences expand to 16 teams forming four super conferences.