Now that the Longhorn Network has finally pissed off someone in the Big 12, and the league seems well on its way to being broken apart (again), where will that leave the other nine programs? I’d guess that seven of those teams – Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech – would be willing to deal with the Longhorn Network just to stay in the Big 12. That’s because they may not have another viable option.
1. Texas. Looking forward to the Longhorns as Independents. Just set up the 6-year home-and-home series with Notre Dame already.
2. Texas A&M - Had a rumored offer from the SEC last year and the Pac-10 was supposedly interested, too. The SEC makes most sense because of geography, but as we saw with TCU bolting for the Big East, geography isn’t that big a deal. The key point: the SEC would love to tape into that fertile Texas football market. I think the Aggies would see a serious boost in recruiting because it’s an easy sell to recruits that you get to play in the best conference in college football.
3. Oklahoma – Also had a rumored offer from the SEC last year. If you add A&M and Oklahoma to the SEC, that’s 14 teams … but OU’s longtime rival, Oklahoma State, would be left out. Could the Sooners play an SEC schedule plus add non-league games against the Cowboys and Longhorns? That’s a rough road to win a national title.
4. Missouri – Biggest plus for the Tigers? They’re just two hours outside of St. Louis, which is the 21st largest TV market. One could even make an argument that if Oklahoma demands that Oklahoma State come long, perhaps the SEC would just bypass the Oklahomas and take Missouri as its 14th team. And unlike Oklahoma, Missouri wouldn’t be a power in the SEC (well, at least not initially).
5. Oklahoma State – Falls into this weird gray area where the Cowboys (bowl games eight of the last nine years!) don’t have the history of Oklahoma or the location of Texas A&M/Missouri. Oklahoma State probably will just hope that the Sooners let little brother tag along wherever they go … because otherwise, it’s tough to tell who might be interested in the Cowboys.
6. Kansas - This discussion is all about football, but the Jayhawks’ best chance of getting into a real conference is selling hoops. With TCU going to the Big East and giving the conference 17 teams, the Jayhawks could go that route as well, and push the idea of a 2-division Big East basketball super conference. If that fails … yikes.
7-10. Baylor, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Kansas State. Up shit’s creek sans paddle. Let’s assume (for the sake of argument) the conference blows up and A&M and Missouri land in the SEC, the two Oklahomas are snapped up by the Big Ten, and Kansas ends up in the Big East. With these four left … perhaps Conference USA adds Texas Tech and Baylor (the conference already has Tulsa, UTEP and Houston). I suppose Kansas State and Iowa State could end up in the WAC or Mountain West. Iowa is mountainous, right?