Saving the #Big12

Think back to the good ol days for a moment. There was an ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 8, Pac 8 (for 10 years) then Pac 10, SEC, & SWC. Arkansas set this whole thing off if you think about it. Bolting big brother Texas on to greener pastures in the SEC. Things went that way for awhile, then Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Miami decided they would take their talents to the Atlantic Coast Conference. This was all started because the SEC had decided that they should have a conference championship game between the two divisions that were created by the Hogs running East. The Big East tried to save themselves, becoming a lesser football conference and now just a basketball conference. The Big 12 (which happened shortly after Arkansas left the SWC…the major college programs of that conference hooked up with the Big 8 and voila you have 12) got raided by the Pac 10 at the time and the Big 10 (11) and just to make matters even better the SEC raided them as well. So all of this makes crystal clear perfect sense right? What are we left with? The SEC has 14 teams now, as does the Big 10, the Pac 12 as its known now makes the most sense for a major college conference, the ACC has 14…Notre Dame you sly Catholics you…ACC has 14.5 football teams and 15 for basketball and has become the premier college basketball conference since the death of the old Big East. So that left the Big 12 with Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas Tech. Oh and by the way in danger of other exodus happening to greener pastures. So what did they do? Sometimes you’ve just got to promote from within and Texas Christian had all of a sudden became nationally relevant. Good move, but then they went on a date with West Virginia and ended up getting married to the Mountaineers and now the geographic center of the Big 12 is Broken Bow, OK and that’s over 1000 miles from Morgantown. Channeling my inner Vince Lombardi-What the hell’s going on out there!! So in my ever growing want to fix what I feel is wrong with sports I enter this as my solution to the ever changing college football landscape. Option 1: Tell West Virginia to take a hike, they don’t fit. There is almost as much of a chance of that happening as Kanye and Kim coming up with a sane name for baby #2 or #3. Option 2: Expand yourselves before the other four conferences decide they want four 16 team leagues and some of your friends don’t get invited to the party. This seems more realistic, but who do you invite that would a) geographically make sense b) financially make sense and c) galvanize the conference with rabid fanbases? The curiosity I felt brought me to use one of my favorite things in life…a spreadsheet. The results are in and not only am I here to report these options would make the Big 12 its number again, increase that number to 14 teams. Lets compete with the SEC, ACC, Big 10 and see what happens to our west coast friends in the Pac-12. Drum roll please: institution number 1: BYU. Now lets get to the reasons why. BYU boasts an endowment of 1 Billion that is larger than Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Iowa State. In the state of Utah would only compete with the Pac-12’s University of Utah for eyeballs. BYU has a larger student population than almost every other institution in the Big 12, save for Texas and Iowa State. The athletic budget is slightly lower than the other member institutions but at 60 million (the last figure I found) that is still higher than all but 1 of the options I am going to present. LaVell Edwards Stadium is where the Cougars play their home football games, the stadium seats 63,470. That number is already larger than every other institution not named Texas or Oklahoma. The Marriot Center holds 19,000 fans and that already would be the largest arena in the conference. Geographically speaking the State of Utah borders an old Big 12 footprint state (Colorado) and the rotation factor of having a 14 team league would ensure that would be held to a home and home series between the furthest schools once every 12 years. In my estimation I am wondering why the Big 12 has yet to offer this potentially wallet fattening institution yet. Institution number 2: Cincinnati. Cincinnati boasts an endowment of 1 billion just like BYU, they also have a higher athletic budget-coming in at 62 million. The University of Cincinnati also has a larger student population than every single other Big 12 institution present or future not named Texas. You read that right, more Bearcats than all but Longhorns. Nippert Stadium checks in with 40,000 seats with a new renovation including premium seating, a new pavilion, additional restrooms, upgraded concessions, and improved concourses. Just think what they might do with more revenue generated from being in a higher profile conference. Fifth Third Arena holds 13,176 fans and is already larger than member institutions Oklahoma, Kansas State, TCU, and Baylor. Conference expansion is about expanding the footprint and with a metro of 2,214,954 the Cincinnati metro area is the 28th largest in the nation. How’s that for putting eyeballs to television sets. Not to mention Cincinnati becomes the bridge to West Virginia, helping in the overall balance of the new Big 12. This move makes as much sense as offering BYU and just with those two moves alone the Big 12 would be saved. But, who wants to stop at just adequate? Not I, enter institution number 3: New Mexico. Now you may be thinking I have lost it, what could they bring to the Big 12? New Mexico’s endowment is larger than Kansas State, they have more students than Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU, Baylor, and West Virginia. While their athletic budget is lower than all the current and proposed Big 12 institutions, I believe growth is not only possible it would be instantaneous once the Big 12 offered the Lobos. The state of New Mexico is another 2 million plus eyeballs for the Big 12 to expand the footprint and what Cincinnati is to West Virginia; New Mexico would be to BYU. I can not overstate enough how important I feel it is for all the schools in a conference to be somewhat connected and this move makes the most sense from that standpoint. I will start with The Pit in my stadium/arena pitch. The Pit has been known as a house of horrors for other teams, think Hilton and the Octagon of Doom for atmosphere. The Pit seats 15,411 fans, which is larger than Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia, and the new member Cincinnati. The bad news is University Stadium in Albuquerque only seats 39,224 fans. Record attendance indicates that 44,760 fans can fit in the stadium though, which is comparable to TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium. Also, getting back to the thought that an influx of revenue can help a school expand a stadium, University Stadium has not been renovated since 2010. I think that number can be grown into something bigger. What is a conference with only 13 member institutions? That just will not suffice, our last proposal: Colorado State. A nostalgia factor can be sensed, the Big 12 returns to Colorado but that is not all. As mentioned before, Colorado borders Utah as well as New Mexico, therefore tying it all in together. Colorado State also has a similar situation to Iowa State, the rival is in a power conference. One of my favorite games to watch for some reason is Colorado vs Colorado State, I have no idea why but I always watch that game. I am a college football junky on Saturdays and that late game usually is a good one. Enough with the nostalgia do they make sense? CSU’s athletic budget would be the lowest of all member institutions, but my argument to that is with more revenue from a larger and higher profile conference they would grow their numbers. CSU’s endowment is larger than Kansas State, no one else’s but that is a start. CSU has this, 31, 256 students-larger than Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU, Baylor, and West Virginia. That is impressive for such a ‘mid major’ in my opinion. CSU is set to open a brand new stadium that seats 41,000 in 2017, they have shown that they are willing to get big time, and that number could easily be increased to a Big 12 level in a short amount of time. Moby Arena, where the Rams play basketball, currently is only larger than TCU’s Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. But the Big 12 let TCU in-TCU is in the middle of a 63 million dollar renovation to Daniel-Meyer and that has been brought on by the inclusion in the Big 12 no doubt. The same can and should be accomplished in Fort Collins. To tie all this in and go one step further, I mentioned the football rotation. I propose two 7 team divisions East and West. The East would include West Virginia, Cincinnati, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. The West would include BYU, Colorado State, New Mexico, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, and Baylor. You could keep the Red River Rivalry as a common opponent to keep the Sooners and Longhorns happy and now you have multiple opportunities for cities to place bids on a Big 12 Conference Championship Game. Dallas, Houston, Denver, Kansas City, and Cincinnati all have NFL stadiums that the game could be staged in and be within the footprint of the conference. Now they must do this, grow Big 12-you still have a chance to save yourselves.

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