Then the Big 12 can get down to, in the words of Gordon Lightfoot, pickin' up the pieces of its sweet, shattered dream.
The illusion that 10 schools could work. That swimming upstream in the second decade of the century was the way to go.
When even old-fogey conferences like the Pac-10 and Big Ten gave in to modernism and expanded to a dozen schools and instituted a championship game, the Big 12 believed it would prosper by going backward.
Old school is fun to wear on a T-shirt. It's not any way to live life. Progress or regress. Those are this conference's options.
And now that the schools in this Big 12 chain gang are stuck with each other, might as well make the best of it.
Best is 12. Not 10. Twelve.
Ten schools in the Big 12 would send the same signal it sent a year ago. That the Big 12 is short-term. That its holdovers want to milk what they can out of this conference, with no concern about its long-term viability.
Remember how long the 10-team Big 12 lasted: 15 months.
Now the Big 12 has an interim commissioner, and Chuck Neinas says in conversation with some athletic directors, the league still seems to think 10 is the best number.
By that you assume he means one AD, Texas' DeLoss Dodds, who has said he prefers 10.
It's possible that Dodds doesn't really care. That he likes 10 but isn't passionate one way or the other. It's also possible that Neinas has learned who his new boss is.
But clearly, the Big 12 would have the votes to go back to 12.
Presidents David Boren of OU and Burns Hargis of OSU both said last week they preferred going back to 12 schools, and even Bob Stoops endorses a dozen.
The old North Division schools have to be in favor of 12, because a championship game gives them a take-your-best-shot at the title. Otherwise, in most years they would have to beat OU and Texas, plus maybe OSU and whoever else. Good luck with that.
Staying at 10 probably means more money per school – two less mouths to feed – but again, that's shortsighted.
The Big 12 can't rest on its laurels, which means the Sooners and Longhorns. Nebraska and A&M are irreplaceable at this point; there are no easy fixes. The Big 12 has to build back its status.
That means with the continued rising profile of the likes of OSU and Missouri, plus adding name-brand programs and helping them get even better, be it TCU or West Virginia or BYU or Boise State.
Stay at 10, and the Big 12 championship game most seasons – not 2011, of course – will be played in early October in the Cotton Bowl. Stay at 10, and the Big 12 looks like an old-fashioned league that's been surpassed by every other major player in college football.
Heck, just think about how most of America perceived the Pac-10 and Big Ten not long ago. Stagnant conferences that lived in the past. More worried about the Rose Bowl than getting with the program.
“The model of 10 had great potential,” said OU athletic director Joe Castiglione. “You had those 10 together, you had something special.”
But this is not debatable. The Big 12 no longer has those 10. The Big 12 no longer has something special.
This league has to do something different.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He 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. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.