Against a college football landscape that has seen significant shifts and realignment over the past year, the Big 12 is now looking to add new teams to its conference.
According to multiple reports, TCU (which was supposed to go to the Big East in 2012), Louisville, BYU and West Virginia have all been rumored as possible targets. This, of course, comes on the heels of Missouri making it clear that it was exploring its options with other conferences – namely the SEC.
Last week reports surfaced that BYU already had an offer from the Big 12; however, it remains to be seen if the conference has enough allure to bring in a freshly independent school. Plus, the BYUTV channel dedicated to the program [Ed. Note: BYUTV actually is a pretty big deal] (think Longhorn Network with much, much, much less controversy) further complicates matters.
The other proposed candidates to join the Big 12 share the notable distinction of being the only thing currently standing between the Big East Conference and its complete destruction.
As stated above, TCU was originally supposed to join the Big East in 2012 – but apparently the Big 12 wants to pluck it out of obscurity and install it into a more prominent, respected position. Plus, given TCU’s natural fit with the Texas market, it makes perfect sense for all parties involved to capitalize on the potential opportunities.
Although West Virginia has made it clear that they are primarily interested in joining up with either the ACC or SEC, that request is anything but carved in stone. With the Big East on the verge of a messy death, everyone has the choice of either jumping ship or going down to the bottom of the sea. The Big 12 may not be what West Virginia originally wanted, but it makes sense on enough levels to at least entertain the notion.
Louisville is an interesting case for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the program’s head coach of basketball -- and most notable personality -- in Rick Pitino recently made a call to arms regarding the necessity of staying in the Big East. He, apparently, has no interest in shifting conferences – a sentiment that many basketball coaches no doubt agree with. (While the Big East has become a low-tier football conference, it still carries a lot of weight and respect in basketball.)
Unfortunately, football is what is currently altering the college sports landscape, and so Pitino’s protests may go unheard. Much like West Virginia, Louisville will face the option of either going down with the ship or jumping to another.
The Big 12, in an effort to not get left behind by the SEC, ACC and Pac-12 will either pull the trigger on the Big East itself or, it’ll wait for the Big East to internally combust and then pick up the pieces. Either way, though, expect at least a few of these Big East squads to seek greener pastures in the foreseeable future.