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A Big 12-Big East football challenge would beef up nonconference scheduling

While the Big 12 keeping us waiting for its football schedule, the conference should borrow an idea from college basketball and start a Big 12-Big East football challenge. That would be good for the sports and help smooth things over after the West Virginia departure.
by Jenni Carlson Published: February 10, 2012

About an hour or so before kickoff at the Fiesta Bowl, Team Oklahoman got a visit in the press box from Tim Allen.

The man behind the Big 12 football schedule answered the day's most pressing question almost before we could ask it.

When will the schedule be out?

“Sometime before August,” he joked.

At least, I thought he was joking.

Now, I'm not so sure.

There was scuttlebutt coming from Lubbock on Thursday that the Big 12 was ready to release the schedule on Friday. Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt told some reporters gathered there that it was going to happen.

Friday came and went without the schedule.

(As punishment, I propose Hocutt take us all to Cagle's for a steak next time we're in Lubbock.)

Granted, we largely know how the schedule is going to shake out next season. The slate that was proposed before Texas A&M and Missouri bolted for the SEC will likely be used but with TCU in place of A&M and West Virginia in place of Missouri.

And yet, we don't know for sure.

The hang-up, of course, is West Virginia. The Big East has taken the Mountaineers to court, trying to hold them to their contract and keep them from leaving until 2013.

A report Thursday in the Charleston Daily Mail said that West Virginia and the Big East had reached an agreement to settle their legal wrangling. The Big East will take a $20 million buyout — $11 million from West Virginia and $9 million from the Big 12 — and the Mountaineers will be free to go.

Here's the deal, though. The Big 12 is likely to go back and raid the Big East more in the next couple years. Louisville and Cincinnati are teams that have been talked about extensively as targets in the league's hopes of returning to a 12-team league.

Hey, Big 12. Why not do something that might soothe hurt feelings over West Virginia, build some bridges for the future and help your teams?

Establish a Big 12-Big East football challenge.

I'm talking about borrowing an idea from college basketball where this conference-vs.-conference format has taken off. The Big 12 and the Pac-10 did it for several seasons, and the matchups were great. Kansas-UCLA. OSU-Stanford. Texas A&M-Washington. It's always fun to see the power conferences go head to head.

It would be just as grand in football.

What's more, it would trump up some sorry looking nonconference slates. Nonconference schedules have become increasingly dull. It's not just a Big 12 problem. It's a college football problem. Marquee games are the exception, not the rule.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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