Middle America is accustomed to waiting. Waiting on the coasts and the northern metropolises to elect presidents and promote fashion styles and establish education trends. Then we deal with the fallout. And now we wait again. Wait on the Big Ten, to decide if it wants to give Nebraska a chance at winning a conference championship in the 21st century or wants to let Missouri be mediocre on the Big Ten's watch instead of the Big 12's. Wait for Notre Dame to come to its senses. Wait for everyone else in collegiate athletics to adjust, then decide what to do. From the Brazos River to the Iowa cornfields, from the Continental Divide to the mighty Mississippi, the Big 12 waits. Time to stop waiting. Time to start acting. Time for Big 12 schools to go from reactive to proactive on conference realignment. That doesn't mean the Big 12 Conference. That means Big 12 schools. The conference is hog-tied. Hog-tied by geography and population. Hog-tied by its lack of television sets. Don't ever forget, the pursuit of TV sets fuels the conference realignment craze. The Big 12 footprint doesn't have Samungs and Panasonics, even with the massive state of Texas anchoring the league. Which is why Big 12 schools must face a sobering truth. It's every school for itself. That's anathema to most of the Big 12. The old Big Eight schools have been together for 50 years; six of those schools have aligned since 1921. Breaking up is hard to do, and it's the last thing most Big 12 members want. A key Big 12 figure told me this week that most of the schools have a primary goal of keeping the league together and that no one wants to be responsible for leaving behind a brother. Noble. But naÃ¯ve. College athletics is survival of the fittest. The Big 12 is not long for this world. Should the league somehow maintain its current members or even its current status, another reconfiguration will come along soon enough. We'll go through this again in 5-10 years, and Big 12 schools again will be waiting for others to decide their fate. Which is why the Big 12 powerbrokers — Texas' DeLoss Dodds, OU's Joe Castiglione, Kansas' Lew Perkins (if he still has a job), A&M's Bill Byrne — should meet pronto and start working on an exit strategy. Heck, doesn't have to be all athletic directors in the room. Invite Boone Pickens. Invite Texas governor Rick Perry. Invite the ghost of Phog Allen, I don't care. Get decision-makers together, formulate a plan and fire back a volley at the Big Ten. And that plan should be a breakup. Expansion is an exciting concept, but it just doesn't work in Middle America. No really good place to go. The geographic naturals (Arkansas, LSU, Iowa) aren't interested in leaving their cushy slots. The romantic West (New Mexico, Brigham Young) doesn't bring enough TV sets to change the financial outlook. So we're talking splitsville. And the league is divided into four classes of schools. 1. Texas, alone at the top. Every league in America would make room for the Longhorns. 2. Oklahoma, Nebraska and Kansas, in that order. Great tradition and fan bases in football (OU and NU) and basketball (KU) that can deliver tons of eyeballs to the television sets, and not just in their moderately populated states. 3. Texas A&M, followed in no particular order by Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas State. They help a league in some ways, hurt a league in others, and really are in the discussion for political purposes. State legislatures will be slow to let UT, OU or KU forge off on their own. 4. Baylor and Iowa State, which absolutely will be left behind, either now or in the future. Might as well start preparing. My suggestion? Align with the Pac-10. The Southeastern Conference is closer geographically and in some ways culturally, but an expanded SEC likely wouldn't go past Texas and A&M. Convince Texas that its best interests are to stay with much of its current Big 12 members and head west. The Pac-10 in some ways is like the Big 12. A little isolated. A little behind in television revenue. A little apprehensive with all the talk going on around the Great Lakes. A confederation of A&M, Texas, OU, Kansas and two from the group of OSU, Tech, K-State or Colorado (let the politics sort it out; my vote is OSU and Colorado) could join Arizona State and Arizona to form an East Division of the Pac-16, with the eight coastal schools comprising the West Division. The Pac-10 wouldn't be crazy about some of the ramifications. The Pac-10 has a certain academic elitism that would make some hold their nose at such a league. But the Pac-10 would love the resulting television contract. A Pac-16 conference would have the nation's No. 2 (Los Angeles), No. 5 (Dallas), No. 6 (San Francisco), No. 10 (Houston), No. 12 (Phoenix), No. 13 (Seattle) and No. 20 (Sacramento) television markets. Plus No. 22 (Portland), No. 28 (San Diego), No. 32 (Kansas City), No. 37 (San Antonio), No. 45 (Oklahoma City), No. 48 (Austin) and maybe No. 16 (Denver), if Colorado was included. The distance killer (it's 2,258 miles from College Station, Texas, to Seattle) would be offset by divisional play. Old Big 12 schools could make just one West Coast football trip a year; coastal schools could come to Middle America just once a year and sometimes not even that, when they were scheduled against Arizona State or Arizona. Sort out basketball any way you want. The downside, of course, is that you leave behind some old friends. But truth is, those old friends are going to be left behind one way or another. A&M, Tech, Baylor and Texas know that feeling well. Breaking up is hard to do. But sometimes it's necessary. Sometime is now. Berry Tramel: 405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.