1. Austin, Texas
2. Fort Worth, Texas
3. Lawrence, Kansas
4. Norman, Oklahoma
5. Morgantown, West Virginia
6. Manhattan, Kansas
7. Lubbock, Texas
8. Stillwater. Oklahoma
9. Ames, Iowa
10. Waco, Texas
This is the slow season in college sports, so while my list does not stray dramatically from my friends it is a little different and here goes along with my explanation. My explanation entails all kinds of factors ranging from history, my history with that community, atmosphere, food, lodging, beverage, people, etc.
Robert Allen Does the Big 12 Towns/Cities (Ratings)
1. Austin, Texas
It was much more fun in my younger days with a stop on Sixth Street at either Maggie Maes (classic rock and roll) or the Blues Room for great music and beverage. The Iron Cactus is a favorite for those that love Mexican food and the BBQ is classic in that town. The games have been great and Oklahoma State has a four-game win streak in Austin. The team stays on the outskirts of town and I'm more reserved these days, but it's still a festive road trip.
2. Manhattan, Kansas
Actually, this is the quintessential college town. Since the advent of Bill Snyder it is now a great challenge and one of the most exciting atmospheres in the conference. I love Aggieville and the K-State fans are enthusiastic, serious, but courteous. This is a fun place to be.
3. Lawrence, Kansas
This rating is based almost entirely on basketball as Memorial Stadium is very docile. On the other hand Allen Fieldhouse is one of the most exciting sports venues in the nation. Lawrence is a good town with good people. It also used to have Bill's Steakhouse, which was one of the most looked forward to eating holes in the conference especially with media that were veterans of the Big Eight Skywriters Tour.
4. Stillwater, Oklahoma
The "homer" in me coming out but I think of Stillwater as very similar to Manhattan. The people are great and the atmosphere in Boone Pickens is electric for most conference home games. There is more than Eskimo Joe's as Hideaway and the strip add to the flavor of town and now a thriving downtown with places like Brooklyn's and Louie's adds to it.
5. Fort Worth, Texas
The new rebuilt Amon Carter Stadium is something else and they have created atmosphere although I could use for a little less PA system. The wealthy homes on the north side of the campus are gorgeous and create a neighborhood feeling. The neighboring areas south and east of the campus are not as nice, but TCU has Fort Worth so the big city gives you endless options even if they don't feel all that collegiate.
6. Ames, Iowa
My only negative here is the weather and the last two times I was there it was outstanding, beautiful. I'll never forget 2011 as that was such a sad day and a disappointing outcome, but I will also remember the Iowa State faithful being so compassionate and understanding. Then at kickoff they cheered their team on like they were supposed to. It is the biggest win in Cyclones history. I really admire the ISU people. Also, Hickory Park is a unique restaurant with great food, BBQ, and an old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
7. Norman, Oklahoma
My "homer" comes out again. Honestly, I rarely go there and that is probably okay with the citizens of Norman and the fans of the Sooners. It is a good Oklahoma town with lots of good places to go. The atmosphere on game day is outstanding, although it is rather ugly at times for Bedlam, but it gets ugly for Bedlam in Stillwater too.
8. Morgantown, West Virginia
I've only been there once and it is beautiful. I've had family that is from West Virginia on my mother's side. Unfortunately, teams don't stay in Morgantown, so you are only there on game day. Teams stay in either the Pittsburgh area or Clarksburg to the south and east of Morgantown. The game day atmosphere is great and tough to play in.
9. Waco, Texas
I was born in Waco and have great memories but it is a town with some checkered history from the Branch Dividians to most recently the biker gangs and the murders. The new stadium takes it up a notch. It's just not a great town to visit. It also needs some new hotels for visiting teams and their fans.
10. Lubbock, Texas
It is the only place in the Big 12 where I wish I had a helmet to wear on the sidelines. The Tech fans are not the best and they throw a lot of items. The tortillas are gone but replaced by batteries, a few food items, and various other projectiles. The weather is always unique as we have seen dust storms and they are frequent. Some people say the music scene is great, but I haven't seen it. The 50-Yard-Line is a nice steakhouse and Cagle's is good too for the western town and atmosphere.