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.
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.