During the last major round of conference realignment a decade ago, there were talks that Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas Tech could be heading to the Pac-12, the kind of world-shaking moves that appear on the precipice with the Sooners and Longhorns reportedly SEC-bound. The Big 12 wound up taking losses—Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, Nebraska to the Big Ten, and Colorado to the Pac-12—but it survived things well enough with UT and OU staying pat.
That changes with the impending move by those two cornerstone programs. It is hard to argue that the remaining schools stack up to even the weakest versions of the ACC and Pac-12, not to mention the Big Ten or the new-look SEC as “Power Five” conferences. The Big 12 as a whole and its member schools are now reportedly weighing numerous options.
Individual schools are obviously reaching out to other leagues to see if there are spots for them. Kansas, Iowa State, and even Oklahoma State have reportedly had overtures with the Big Ten, and West Virginia would like to join many of its former Big East rivals in the ACC.
Kansas State appears to be among the schools in a really precarious position. Without the legendary basketball program of its in-state rival, or the consistent, high-end success of an Oklahoma State, it is unclear if another Power Five league will find space for the Wildcats, short of a crazy Big 12/Pac-12 merger of some sort. Even so, legendary former coach Bill Snyder wants KSU fans to “keep the faith” when it comes to the league.
The Big 12 came thru this before and will again. Keep the faith. Bob Bowlsby and school Presidents are good leaders-negative talk won't help
— Bill Snyder (@CoachBillSnyder) July 25, 2021
The upside for the remaining eight Big 12 schools is that even if they fall to the level of the AAC or Mountain West, there will be more access for non-power schools to compete at the top of the sport. The College Football Playoff is likely expanding to 12 teams, with Group of Five programs in the mix for spots.
Even so, the Big 12’s survival is a real question. If it loses even one or two more schools, it may be hard to keep things together. Considering even the AAC smells blood in the water when it comes to potential additions from the Big 12, and doesn’t appear super worried about losing programs to the league, it may be tough to remain faithful.
This offseason promises to be extremely explosive as the dominos continue to fall from Oklahoma and Texas’ impending departure. It is anyone’s guess exactly how things will shake out.