Could the Big 12 attract either Notre Dame or FSU?
The Horn looks into possible moves the Big 12 could make to return to a twelve team conference. Find out how the new playoff system could affect the conference.
The Big 12’s athletic directors have said that they are “committed” to the 10 teams that currently make up the conference. But do we really think that they will stand still and not try to expand, though? My money says that over the next two years the Big 12 big wigs will set in motion plans to bring in two additional teams just in time for the start of the 2014 season when the four team playoff system will take effect.
So why expand? Well the Big 12 needs to stay competitive in the college football world, and schedule strength is going to be a huge factor in appearing strong to the future playoff selection committee. The ACC has 12 teams, so does the Big 10 and PAC-12, and the SEC currently sits with 14 members. The Big East is teetering on the edge of irrelevancy with 8 teams. If the Big 12 wants to sit at the grown-up table with the ACC, Big 10, PAC-12 and SEC they need to get back to 12 teams, arrange them into two divisions, and have a conference championship game.
The million dollar question is who to bring in though. Here are a few schools the Big 12 should focus on:
Arkansas: The Razorbacks currently make their home towards the middle of the pack in the SEC. If they were to be tempted to the Big 12 they would be playing against several of their old rivals from the days of the Southwest Conference, including Texas who in 1969 beat Arkansas to earn a National Championship. Good for the Big 12 because they gain a solid team that already has a history amongst the conference. Good for Arkansas because they can be more consistently competitive in the Big 12 than they can be in the SEC both on the field and in recruiting.
Florida State: There have been rumors that the Seminoles and the Big 12 may have some mutual interest in each other. Over the past month both parties have been very quiet about the situation, but that isn’t surprising because nobody wants to damage current conference relations until a decision is all but reached. Remember, West Virginia was a seemingly out-of-nowhere addition to the Big 12.
Not even the Big East, WVU’s former conference, knew the Mountaineers were leaving until after West Virginia had already accepted theBig 12’s invitation. Good fit for the Big 12 because they open the door to the recruit fertile state of Florida where they can try and steal athletes and television time from the SEC and ACC. Florida State benefits from access to Texas recruits and more impressive football competition.
Brigham Young: The BYU football program has been a rising star as of late, and if they want to keep getting noticed they are eventually going to have to give up their independent status. If the Big 12 were to snag the Cougars they would get a talented team and access to a region where the biggest recruiting draw is the Mountain West conference. BYU would get into the big leagues and prove that they aren’t just that other independent school…or that other team from Utah.
Notre Dame: This is the dream pick. The Fighting Irish have been off their game, so to speak, when it comes to football for a number of seasons, but they are still a popularity juggernaut. Notre Dame has been rather defiant when courted by possible football conference suitors but as the future of college football is always in motion it would be wise for them to finally pick a conference.
If the Big 12 were to win the war for South Bend they would add an enormous revenue stream and a program that oozes with gridiron tradition. Think about it…Bevo, the Boomer Schooner and “Touchdown Jesus” in the same conference. The Irish would have a solid conference schedule as well as the ability to make itself look better to the future playoff selection board by scheduling non-conference games against their high-powered traditional rivals (looking at you, USC).
Pittsburgh: Pitt has a long standing rivalry with both Notre Dame and West Virginia and could be the key to getting the Irish to join. If adding the Panthers doesn’t convince Notre Dame that the Big 12 is the right fit they would still benefit from adding a competitive team from the northeast as well as adding the Backyard Brawl to its slew of annual rivalry games. Pitt gets to leave the Big East for a bigger and better conference.
Only time will tell which, if any, of these teams the Big 12 will add. I will be a mouthpiece for expansion until the Big 12 once again makes numerical sense.