Stillwater News Press

Sports Columns

October 25, 2011

Adding Texas teams make more sense for the Big 12

STILLWATER, Okla. — I expect the University of Missouri and the Big 12 to part ways this week.

Missouri will join Texas A&M as SEC newcomers and fodder for that conferences powerhouses – Louisiana State, Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas.

The Tigers and Aggies were mid-level teams in the Big 12 and will be bottom of the pack in the run- and defense-dominated SEC.  Neither program has the facilities nor the talent to expect any better than 6-6, 7-5 or 8-4 records.

Missouri most likely will be placed in the east division with Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Some years, Mizzou may be thanking a higher power for Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

The University of Missouri will have to upgrade its facilities in order to recruit SEC-caliber players. It will be an expensive proposition, but Chancellor Brady Deaton did not get permission from the Board of Curators to look at other conferences if he intended to stay in the Big 12.

Expansion plans are in place if Missouri stays or leaves the Big 12. West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati and Brigham Young have been mentioned as possible candidates to replace Missouri and expand the Big 12 to 12 again.

Frankly, those additions don’t make a lot of football sense. Sure, you extend the conference’s footprint, but none of those teams expand your television market or significantly improve the Big 12 Conference’s football power ratings.

West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati are mid-level BCS programs. They end up with a 9-3 record in the Big East and would do well to finish at .500 in the Big 12. Brigham Young, an independent, has its own television network — just like Texas — and hasn’t been a national title contender since the days of coach Lavell Edwards. These teams don’t add or solidify a top 10-television market for the Big 12.

Southern Methodist University and Houston have similar football credentials as West Virginia, Louisville and Cincinnati. SMU and Houston are trending upward. Houston (8-0) is one of eight unbeaten teams in big-time college football. The No. 18 Cougars upset Oklahoma State in 2009. The unranked Mustangs (5-2, 3-1 in Conference USA) have made two straight bowl game appearances.

The Big 12 already welcomed home former Southwestern Conference member TCU. The league could make it a huge homecoming by adding SMU and Houston.

It also would give the Big 12 a stranglehold on the No. 5 and No. 10 television markets in the nation in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.

It just makes sense to me to add SMU and Houston, which probably means it’s unlikely to happen.

The Big 12 won’t dawdle when Missouri jumps to the SEC. I fully expect the Big 12 will invite institutions to join the conference within 48 hours of Missouri’s announcement.

Day is sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.

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