Conferences They Are A-Changin: What it Means for the Big 12

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 20th, 2012

Happy Tuesday before Thanksgiving, everyone! Because it’s not a happy one at the Big East or ACC offices. On Monday, Maryland and Rutgers announced their departures for the Big Ten Conference. Maryland will join in 2014 while Rutgers would like to join in 2014 but they may have to wait 27 months or negotiate an early exit with the Big East. So what does this all mean for the Big 12, and more importantly, Big 12 basketball?

What will the Big 12 do?

According to Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports, the ACC is already talking to Louisville, Cincinnati, Connecticut, and South Florida to replace Maryland as its 14th all-sports team. That’s not good news for the Big 12, considering the longstanding rumors that have the Cardinals and Bearcats linked to the 10-team league. But what’s most interesting is that the Big 12 is reportedly content with its 10-team format. Here’s how I read that line: the Big 12 is in fact NOT content with 10 teams and they’re finally trying to turn flirtation with other schools into committed relationships, or at least monogamous ones. So other than Louisville and Cincinnati, which schools would the Big 12 be interested in going after? Here are a couple suggestions:

Florida State: Let’s get something straight. The 14-team arrangements in the SEC and ACC are very different. Before 2012, the SEC had been pretty much intact for 20 years while the ACC has had multiple new teams join the league since 2004. And unlike the SEC, the ACC hasn’t played a full football or basketball season with 14 teams yet. The Seminoles have always felt that the ACC was a bit too Tobacco Road-centric, so if the program feels that it can find a better deal by moving west to the Big 12 without breaking the bank, there’s a reasonable likelihood of such a move. An interesting factoid: when the 12 current ACC schools voted to raise the exit fee to $50 million, two schools voted against it. One school was Maryland while the other was Florida State, so speculate away.

Houston: Rutgers of all schools set off a ripple effect for the entire Big East with Monday’s announcement. Boise State and San Diego State are now second-guessing their move to the league. And on Monday, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reported that Houston can leave the Big East without any penalty much like TCU did a year ago. First off, it makes geographic sense but the Cougars are also a program of proud pedigree. They produced Hall of Famers such as Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. They have made multiple Final Four and national championship game appearances. And all of these happened while UH was a member of the old Southwest Conference with current Big 12ers Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and TCU. Plus everybody knows the Greater Houston area is a hotbed for high school talent and the Cougs have brought in three top-100 prospects in the past several years (Joseph Young, Danuel House and Danrad “Chicken” Knowles). A natural fit by my count.

The Big 12 is currently a competitive basketball league but it wouldn’t be a wise move to stand pat through this latest wave of conference realignment moves. If they’re able to get two more members from the list of Louisville, Cincinnati, Florida State and Houston, it’s a win all around for the Big 12 Conference. Besides historical hoops accomplishments, these four schools have also experienced great success on the football field in recent years.

See? I care about football a little bit.

Nate Kotisso is a Big 12 microsite writer for Rush The Court. You can follow him on twitter (@natekotisso).

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