Editor’s note: This article originally published on June 4.
During the football offseason, our panel of insiders, columnists and contributors have been taking a look at some of the hottest topics around the Big 12. Here’s their latest round table discussion:
What’s your best guess as to what teams will be in the Big 12 five years from now and why?
Grosbard: It’s really hard to predict because it’s almost impossible to know what the TV landscape will be like with more streaming package deals and more people cutting the cord. Last time around, the Pac-12 reportedly had an eye on Texas and Oklahoma, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see those schools leave the Big 12 in the next major round of realignment. If that happens, in-state schools like Houston and SMU might get stronger consideration to make up for the loss of the Texas market. Schools like Cincinnati and Memphis will get strong consideration, too, to bridge the gap between the southwest schools and West Virginia.
Cowlishaw: Five years might be enough time for them to circle back around and consider that they made a mistake the last time they asked for applications and then didn’t add anyone. You can’t do it right away, other schools are still unhappy with the last process. But five years from now, let’s give them Central Florida and South Florida as they expand their footprint and recruiting territory.
Baby: Whew. That’s going to be tough to project. I still think it’ll be at 10 teams as long as it’s financially viable. As long as Texas and Oklahoma feel they have a shot at making the CFP out of the Big 12 if they take care of business, the conference will exist in its current state. The Big 12 goes as both of those schools go. We’ll see if that changes moving forward and if the Big 12 can improve its standing over the next few years.
Now, with all that being said, things change on a year-to-year basis. It wasn’t too long ago that everyone was wondering about the long-term health of the Big 12. Now, the Pac-12 is on the hot seat.
Mosley: It will continue to be up to Texas. Having the Longhorn Network in place actually helped the conference stay together, in a weird way. If Texas feels like it’s getting everything it needs, it will try to keep the conference together.
If the SEC or Pac-12 made a huge play for the Horns, it would be interesting. But in the past, the Horns liked to remain in control. They can’t go into the SEC and bully everyone, on or off the field. (Not that they bully anyone on the field in the Big 12). If the Horns and Sooners are on the same page (iffy), then the conference should remain viable. Everyone else sits around waiting to see what those schools will do. Yes, that includes all-knowing Gordon Gee.
Scruggs: In five years I think the Big 12 will still be intact. Schools just got $36.5 million each. Only the SEC and Big Ten have more money coming in per school.
Why leave? Why expand?
Life is good for a conference that was on life support a few years ago. Give Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby credit. The league is printing money and that is what the membership wanted.
Carlton: That would be 2023, and the Big 12 will probably look like it does now. If there is a storm coming (classic Terminator reference), then 2023 will most likely be the calm before it hits. There are a whole lot of variables involved. And if the Big 12 breaks up, there’s a near certainty that not every school finds a power conference home. Yes, it’s going to be interesting.
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