Big 12 Conference: The Next Step

Sooners Illustrated breaks down the route the reformed Big 12 should take inside.

Outside of the obvious (equal revenue sharing, change in leadership), the conference needs to completely shake up its arrangement.

But before we get to that, the new member(s) have to be rounded up.

Texas President Deloss Dodds said he prefers to get to 10 but would be willing to go to 12 teams again should the rest of the presidents around the league wish to do so.

It appears that is the sentiment, so that will be the case.

Now, look at the list of potential Big 12 pickups: BYU, Air Force, Boise State, Houston, TCU, West Virginia, Louisville.

A combination of BYU, TCU, West Virginia and Louisville would make the most sense in terms of prestige.

Assume for sake of the following discussion, that BYU, West Virginia and Louisville are the three teams that join and make the "new" Big 12.

Here's where shaking up the arrangement comes into play.

The Big 12 has always been a North-South league since the beginning of its existence, but it's time to change that.

Split it down I-35 (the only exception of a university on the opposite side of I-35 is Iowa State), making it an East-West league.

In the West, you have the following teams: BYU, Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas and Kansas State.

In the East, you have the following teams: OU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Missouri, Louisville and West Virginia.

That shifts the OU and Texas football power to different sides of the league, with an annual intra-division basketball battle between Texas and Kansas in the West.

Bedlam can still be played every year, and OU-Texas can be an inter-divisional rivalry every season, with the possibility the two could still meet in the Big 12 Championship.

Annual intra-division battles between BYU and Texas, OU and Missouri and others are intriguing.

Additionally, it splits up the two major rivalries in the conference.

Outside of Bedlam and the Sunflower Showdown (Kansas and Kansas State), Kansas and Missouri could play every year in a cross-divisional rivalry game, along with OU-Texas, as previously mentioned.

It places a historical basketball power in each side of the conference, with Kansas in the West and Louisville in the East, along with two other Top 20 powers in OU and Texas--the two are tied for second in the country for the most NCAA Tournament games (35) won without a national title--split between divisions.

Extending upon this further, the Big 12 could act one of two ways:

Given that OU-Texas and Kansas-Missouri would play and also battle two other schools from the opposite division every year, the other four teams could either adopt the SEC model and play an annual "rival" from the other division and two additional opponents OR they could simply shift among the six teams, playing three teams on a rotating basis like the Big 12 was set up before Nebraska and Colorado's exits.

Working with the conference "rival" model would probably be the best way to go in order to make the schools feel like they are equals to the other four (OU, Texas, Kansas, Missouri) in terms of having an annual cross-division battle.

For instance, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State could be one in order to maintain an old Big 12 South significance, with Iowa State and Baylor, Kansas State and Louisville meeting and BYU and West Virginia as the last in order to completely extend the conference from its borders on a yearly basis.

So, this is the way to go.

But first thing's first: The Big 12 must round up its new members.

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