Big 12 football: Big East merger would mean what?
If Missouri leaves the Big 12, the latest theory is that four Big East schools would replenish the league that won’t die: TCU, Cincinnati, West Virginia and Louisville. TCU to the South, the others to the North.
I don’t know if it has any legs or not. Seems to me that you could add TCU and then get three West schools just as easily — Air Force, BYU and Boise State. Which would be better? Let’s look.
NORTH PROWESS: Without Missouri, the North would be decimated. Strictly football, the West schools are better. West Virginia is a perennially good program, but Cincy and Louisville are squishy, even though both have won Big East titles since 2005. Boise State would become the North’s premier team, and BYU and Air Force are usually competitive. I’d give an edge to the West.
MARKETABILITY: Louisville is a market about the size of Oklahoma City, so that’s solid. Cincinnati is a big market, but I don’t know how much people in Ohio care about the Bearcats; maybe that would change in the Big 12. West Virginia is not a big market, but the Mountaineers have enough of a name that it would carry some weight. Sort of like Boise State. Idaho is not much of a market. Air Force doesn’t really have a huge Colorado following, though it has some national cache’. Brigham Young brings a good-sized market in Salt Lake City, plus a national following. Slight edge to the East.
TELEVISION ATTRACTION: Here’s how you look at it. How many attractive games would each expansion produce? Cincinnati-Kansas State or Air Force-Kansas State? Boise State-Oklahoma or West Virginia-Oklahoma? BYU-Texas or Louisville-Texas? I think you have to go with the West. The truth is, BYU football hasn’t been what it once was. But the Cougars still have a name. And Boise State trumps all. Boise State against Oklahoma State, Boise State-TCU, Boise State-Texas Tech. Those are games people will watch. Edge to the West.
TRAVEL: It’s a hassle to get to Boise and Morgantown, W.Va., so that’s a wash. But it’s also a heck of a long way to Provo, Utah. Cincinnati and Louisville are a little easier to deal with. Edge to the East.
BASKETBALL: I know basketball doesn’t count. But Louisville, Cincinnati and West Virginia? Are you kidding me? A North Division of KU, K-State, Iowa State, Rick Pitino, Bob Huggins’ current school and Bob Huggins’ former school. Wow. BYU would be an excellent hoops addition; Air Force and Boise would be total non-factors. Big edge to the East.
ACADEMICS: I have no idea if anyone in the Big 12 cares about academic reputation anymore. Lose Nebraska, Colorado, Texas A&M and maybe Missouri, and your academic status is shot. I suppose Air Force swings the nod to the West, but Boise State might swing it back the other way. I have no idea if Boise State deserves the poor academic reputation it has, but that’s exactly what Boise State has. I’d call it a wash.
CULTURE: Brigham Young is hard to deal with. That’s what people from the Mountain West say. They say Texas overflows with the milk of human kindness in conference talks, compared to dealing with BYU. I don’t know why West Virginia, Louisville or Cincinnati would be any trouble. Edge East.
SCHEDULING: BYU doesn’t play on Sundays, so that would cause all kinds of minor sports to adjust their schedules. But the addition of WVU, Louisville and Cincinnati would make it problematic if the Big 12 wanted to cointinue its travel-partner system in some sports. That would have to be worked out. Edge East.
CHAMPIONSHIPS GEOGRAPHY: A football title game in Dallas annually would eventually wear on West Virginia, I would think. I doubt you’d hear much from Boise State or BYU about that. I don’t see a solution. Is Kansas City somehow better for the Mountaineers? No easier to get to, though a little less convenient for whichever team West Virginia would be playing. I think the either East or West would have to suck it up and realize Jerry Jones has the football title game. The basketball game would stay in Kansas City, which would probably rankle Louisville eventually. Edge to the West.
Of course, if Missouri stays, all this remains the same, except you probably drop Cincinnati from the East discussion and either Air Force or Boise State from the West.
So what do you think? Here’s what I think. Going West would make for better football. Going East would make for better stability. Finances would seem to be pretty close. The Big 12 has a tough decision to make.
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