Watching Louisville football the next few years is going to be tough for Big 12 fans. The Cardinals could have been theirs. A conference in desperate need of football depth passed on Louisville, a solid gridiron program and a stalwart athletic department.
When West Virginia jumped to the Big 12, Louisville was anxious and ready to come along, but the Big 12 didn't want to expand past 10, mainly for financial (meaning, selfish) reasons. When Maryland left the ACC for the Big Ten, Louisville was a quick fix for the ACC.
And so Labor Day night, there was Louisville waxing Miami 31-13 and making us watch on what we had missed.
I wrote about the seeds of Big 12 instability in my column on former commissioner Kevin Weiberg in the Wednesday Oklahoman, which you can read here. The Big 12 remains uninterested in expansion and will stay that way until forced to move off 10 by developments in the College Football Playoff. If it's clear the new football committee gives preference to teams playing a conference championship game, the Big 12 will change direction. Until then, it's not likely.
But a Louisville/Cincinnati addition remains the stuff of lament. That would have made for a nice North Division. Kansas State, Louisville, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Kansas and Iowa State. Cincinnati was the most successful program of the Big East/American Athletic Conference the last six years. West Virginia has great tradition. Louisville has produced a solid program. Kansas State you know about. That's not the SEC West, but you could argue it was the equal of the old Big 12 North in the last 6-7 years of that division's existence. Plus think of the basketball in that division.
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