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Report: The Big East, Big 12 Nearly Merged To Form A 12-Team League Back In 2011

The latest round of conference realignment was a pretty nerve-wracking time for fans of college athletics. According to a report by ESPN's Brett McMurphy, it could have been way, way more eventful. McMurphy interviewed West Virginia AD Oliver Luck about the Big 12's current status as a 10-team league (which he says the conference is happy with) and detailed a contingency plan that he and the ADs of a number of other high-profile schools had back in 2011.

Syracuse and Pittsburgh had just left the Big East for the ACC. The Pac-12 was trying to lure away Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State from the Big 12. Luck says he cold-called ADs at a number of school to try to merge what would be left of the two conferences.

"I didn't know those guys from Adam. I knew the schools. I told them 'your conference may fall apart. You guys look like you might get left behind. Why don't we take all of you and TCU, which was kind of homeless."

Which schools? Luck envisioned a new "Big East" - the west featuring Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, TCU and Louisville. The east would get UConn, Cincinnati, Rutgers, West Virginia, South Florida and UCF.

While the idea seems crazy now, there was a lot of uncertainty three years ago. West Virginia and TCU eventually wound up replacing Texas A&M and Missouri, which both left the Big 12 for the SEC. Louisville eventually got an invite to the ACC after Maryland left for the Big Ten. Rutgers left the AAC, a conference created after the collapse of the Big East, for the Big Ten.