The Case for 15: Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon to the Big 12 Makes Sense
Monday’s story broken on ESPN about merger talks breaking down between the Big 12 and Pac 12 Conference wasn’t a shock to most in the sports world. Lost in the fog of conference realignment is the self-perceived value the remaining Pac 12 schools and their actual value.
The Big 12 and its members get their choice of ten institutions from a sinking ship and it’s going to make some bitter enemies in the process. The leviathan of college athletics depends on broadcast rights money to survive, and it must get its sacrifice.
Tradition doesn’t matter.
Relationships don’t matter.
If they killed the Southwest Conference then why would the spare the Pac 12? If it made sense for the networks to pick apart the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference then it would have happened. The brave new world of college football began in 1994 when the SWC was killed and it was cheered on by the likes of those today bemoaning the impending death of the Pac 12.
The Big 12 doesn’t need to add six or even four schools. They can add three schools to the conference and leave behind the rest of the Pac 12 to languish as leftovers for the Mountain West Conference. Stopping at 15 schools helps the Big 12 and leaves vital spots open for when the ACC is picked over by the SEC and Big Ten when they decide to expand again.
Adding Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon get the best available schools with proximity to sizable media markets in Denver, Phoenix, and Portland and adds tremendous value to any new Big 12 media rights deal along with keeping the Shoe Dog himself happy. Stopping here also allows for the conference to have inventory in all four time zones for ESPN and Fox Sports and that’s the end game.
The virtue of not adding Utah is self-evident as BYU is already in the conference and you don’t need the U to have the Salt Lake City market. Even in a decade plus of independence it’s been far easier to catch BYU games than Utah games on television.
Not adding Arizona State is a bit murkier. Yes, they’re in the Phoenix metro area but turmoil surrounding the program with their current staff makes UA the logical choice.
Not adding Washington is a preference for sure, but the Huskies remain fourth in the pecking order for Seattle behind coffee shops, the Seahawks, and the Sounders. If the Big 12 does add a 16th team then UW is that school.
The possibilities are endless for sponsors for a potential #Big12AfterDark that can be sponsored by Natural Light and their 15-pack of beer. Design a can for each school and see the money just role in. I’ve never had Natty Light, but for a special edition Texas Tech beer I would get a whole case.
The only way I would take a school like Utah or Stanford in the Big 12 would be if the conference could trade TCU since there’s not a strong presence in Fort Worth from the Frogs anyway.
Allen Corbin resides along the Wasatch Mountain range in Salt Lake City, UT. He covered Texas Tech Football and Basketball from 2008-2015 and is currently a recovering sports radio host and newsreader.