The last 10 years have been a tumultuous time for the Big 12. The conference has been known as a wallflower on and off the field this decade. A decade that saw a swing and a miss for a PAC 12 superconference, four-valued members moving elsewhere while allowing Texas to rise up its own network was perceived as weak nationally. However, nearly 10 years later, the Big 12 may have exercised many of those demons. Today could be looked at as redemption day for the Big 12.
The Last 10 Years
2010 was a turning point for the Big 12. And, it was a point where the conference was on the verge of a merger that would shake the core of the FBS. It was widely known that Nebraska was ready to leave the Big 12 over the power struggle between them and Texas. With that, the conference had an opportunity to do something big. It was reported that Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Colorado would all join the PAC 10.
This would be the first “superconference” to emerge to create a massive 16-team league that could change the landscape of collegiate athletics. Reportedly, the members were about 30 minutes away from pulling the trigger. However, Texas was not willing to relinquish the Longhorn Network and the PAC 10, at the time, was not willing to allow Texas in with its own network and the deal fell through. Many saw this as a league cowering to its biggest member.
However, things would go from bad to worse. From 2010 to 2011, Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, and Texas A&M announced that they would leave to join other Power Five conferences. The Big 12, in turn, added West Virginia and TCU to take the conference at 10 members. The domino effect of moves saw the Big 12 get weaker while their Power Five brothers strengthen their collective conferences.
The State of the Nation
In March, the state of the nation was rocked to its core as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country. With the immediate cancelation of essentially everything, the division across our nation began. Many thought that with football nearly six months away there would be no cause for concern. However, that division has become more prevalent in college football over the past few weeks.
On Monday, the Big 10 conference and the PAC 12 conference announced that it would be canceling its Fall football seasons. The leagues’ site long term cardiac issues along with player safety as determining factors. Shortly after, the ACC and SEC provided their solid position on moving forward. This put the Big 12 back in the driver’s seat. Clearly in the middle, the Big 12 could determine the fate of the College Football season. Redemption day for the Big 12 was at hand.
The Big 12 saves the day…for now
After a meeting with league presidents and athletic directors, the Big 12 announced it would be moving forward. However, we all know the face of this can change. But, as it currently stands the Big 12 made that stand. But, aligning themselves with the SEC and the ACC shows a power move by the conference. All signs point to at starting date consistent with the SEC and ACC of September 26th.
College Football is on a slippery slope. An outbreak could call this whole thing off. Students returning to campus brings forward even more risk. There are many things that could go wrong to derail this train. However, the redemption day for the Big 12 could pay dividends in what could be a changing face for the conference for years to come.