The Big12 has now lost Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas A&M. Missouri, reportedly, has one foot out the door. This will bring the Big12 down to 9 Teams and a television footprint of only four states. Is it time for them to pull out the nukes to ensure their survival and stability?
While Dan Beebe may not have been the most astute conference chairman, someone in his office wasn't exactly stupid either. Guess who owns the trademark and logo for THE BIG14? That's right, the Big12 does. No one disputes the validity of the conference's continued existence as long as Texas and Oklahoma are on board, but can you really claim to be a MAJOR conference when only one game per year draws national viewership? Can there really be a sense of fairness and stability when everyone knows that if one of those two teams exit the conference the money will dry up as quick as the current contract expires?
So how do you fix it? You do what any nation threatened with invasion does. Invade first. The Big12 needs space, as in an increased television footprint: it needs more than one national draw, as in something other than the Red River Rivalry; it needs increased competition at the top, everyone loves the heavy weight title fight but the undercards are an important preamble; and it needs border security, to prevent the constant loss of teams searching for stability. To achieve all of these goals you do what any nation threatened would do. You invade your weaker neighbors and take the best they have to offer. You forget about going back to 12 teams and jump straight to 14 becoming the BIG14.
First, you already own the rights to the name so enact it. Leave all the negative publicity of the BIG12 behind and become the BIG 14 and make the news for all the right reasons because you had so many teams that wanted to join you just couldn't stop at 12. A five team addition and the restoration of your Conference Championship game puts the BIG14 back on the national map and with the right set of teams, gives the BIG14 an increased television footprint.
Second and Third, you build the conference not just in footprint, but also in strength of schedule. Oklahoma, Texas, OK State and Kansas State are all ranked teams. So add at the top and middle. The SEC has 6 perennially ranked teams, that should be the goal, at least 6 teams always in the Top 25. It never hurts if one of the teams who join also happens to have created a niche market for itself due to its occasional upset of your conference champion in a BCS bowl game. Most of the nation would watch that rematch, period.
Fourth, by going straight to 14, you ensure that should you lose a team or two in the future your existence is never in question.
With all that said, the question becomes who should be invited to join? See if these additions make sense.
1.- Boise State. They need you for your automatic bid. You need them to increase the strength of your conference schedule and give viewers a national draw. I don't care if I live to be 100 I will always remember the Fiesta Bowl and will always watch to see if Oklahoma redeems themselves in a rematch or do the Broncos Statue of Liberty their way to another undefeated season.
2- West Virginia. The Big East is dying a slow and painful death. Put them, and the rest of the country, out of it's misery and take the only football property worth watching away. West Virginia has an excellent athletic program and consistently ranks in the top 25.
3-BYU. National draw, good media market and good athletic program.
4-Louisville. Good media market, excellent Basketball program, and a profitable athletic department.
5- USF. Yes, USF. South Florida gives you Tampa for television and a presence in Florida. Texas and Florida are always good for a few television dollars.
The Big East may or may not survive but that really isn't the Big14's problem now is it? These five schools added to TCU, Texas, Oklahoma, and OK State create one hell of a conference and push the footprint to 9 states for television. Every school adds value to the conference and should increase the contract size.
Alright Big12 fans let me hear it.