Big 12 Mailbag: Divisional Realignment

If Nebraska and Missouri leave the Big 12 to join the Big 10, what teams should take their place and what would the best alignment for the conference going forward?'s Mike Piellucci examines this question.

North (Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Colorado, Oklahoma State, TCU)


South (Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech, SMU)

This alignment includes two of the more likely replacements in north Texas powers TCU and SMU. TCU would bring another credible power to the conference, one that boasts the status of perhaps the best non-power-conference school in the country as well as one of the best "program faces" in Gary Patterson. SMU, meanwhile, gives the Big 12 full-time access to the Dallas market and re-energizes several older rivalries between SMU and the other remnants of the Southwest Conference.

The layout of the teams within this alignment could be tweaked – I split the new additions and shifted Oklahoma State to the North in an attempt to redistribute some power away from the South, but another viable permutation would be to place both TCU and SMU in the North to ensure that they, as well as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State continue to renew their rivalries annually.

Old School (Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Arkansas)


New School (Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Colorado, Texas Tech, TCU)

In this case, old school refers to the charter members of the old Southwestern Conference while the new school includes programs that either joined later in the SWC's history or integrated with the formation of the Big 12.

Note the inclusion of Arkansas into the Old School alignment; if the Big 12 considered poaching from other major conferences to fill the void of Nebraska and Missouri's defections, this would be their most logical target given their rich history in the SWC as well as the geographic proximity to the rest of the conference. Texas Tech gets bumped to the North and TCU is chosen as the second addition by virtue of their resume as the strongest available school.

Group A (Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, SMU, Colorado)


Group B (Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Kansas State, TCU, Baylor, Iowa State)

This would be a sure-fire way to inspire enmity across the conference's dividing line. Five great rivalries are split across the middle, creating a wrinkle that has yet to be explored in college football, one that transcends regional and conference pride – divisional pride. If you're an Aggie, Sooner, Wildcat, or Horned Frog, you hate Group A while Longhorns, Jayhawks, Cowboys, and Mustangs have the same vitriol for their neighbors in Group B.

There would be some kinks to work out, such as finding actual names for the divisions and more importantly working around the rotating schedules that would preclude rivalry games every 6 years, but talented PR people and non-conference scheduling can handle each of those problems with gusto. For such a unique opportunity, a little extra legwork is well worth it.

Texas (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, SMU)


Everybody Else (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State, Colorado, Iowa State)

Let's be honest – this is what we'd all like to see. Those who hail from one of the other 49 states are generally of the opinion that Texas is its own country and if Texans want to secede that badly, as they sometimes admit to pondering, then we should just let them leave and get on with it. Meanwhile, those in the Lone Star State are of the mindset that Texas probably is its own country and it definitely is the best state, so why not let us do everything our way?

Well, here's your football solution. If you thought the third scenario would inspire hatred between divisions, just wait until you get the first concrete demonstration of Texas versus the world. It would inspire endless passion, intensity, and hostility – only the backbones of competitive activity – while spawning an endless media buzz around the country, as people from far and wide would embrace their opportunity to actively root against the state of Texas. Texans, for their part, wouldn't have it any other way.

So that's where my vote lies. If Nebraska and Missouri flee to colder pastures, give the people what they want and create the Big 12 Texas and Big 12 Everybody Else divisions. If nothing else, you're sure to see fireworks – and football too.

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