I’m in the process of compiling my annual list of the Big 12 football games, ranking them one through 75. I once did one through 96, but going from 12 to 10 members cost the league 21 games.
That ranking is planned for the Sunday Oklahoman.
I’m also in the process of doing a bunch of interviews with outlets in the state of Utah, which are all fired up about the recent Brigham Young talk. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall basically politicked to join the Big 12, and wrote a few pieces about it.
One thing I’m telling our friends in Utah is that a Big 12/BYU scheduling alliance could be a good thing, for two reasons:
1. Get to know one another. We had some shotgun weddings in conference realignment. Missouri/SEC being most prominent. It’s been OK for Mizzou so far and maybe it will stay that way. But a union of two largely unfamiliar entities is not a good idea.
If the Big 12 ever considers expansion again, the more it knows about BYU, the better. And vice versa.
Regular games matching BYU and Big 12 foes would enable the conference administration and each school’s officials to learn more about each other. There can’t be any downside to that.
2. It would give the Big 12 more good games. BYU-Texas Tech instead of Tech-UTEP. BYU-OSU instead of OSU-UTSA. BYU-Baylor instead of Baylor-Buffalo.
Scheduling can be an acute problem. While the nine-game conference schedule gives the Big 12’s television networks a lot of good from which to pick, the 10-school format can limiting at times. With most schools playing only one, at best, marquee opponent in the non-conference, there are some gruesome Saturdays.
Let’s take a look at each Saturday this fall and what kind of television is offered by the Big 12:
Aug. 30: OSU-Florida State and West Virginia-Alabama are neutral site games that will draw eyeballs. Texas-North Texas probably is third on the list. So that’s fine.
Sept. 6: Iowa State-Kansas State kicks off the conference portion of the schedule, and Texas hosts BYU, so that’s another decent Saturday. OU-Tulsa (a telecast controlled by the American Athletic Conference) and Tech-UTEP are next.
Sept. 13: OU-Tennessee is a big-brand game. Iowa State-Iowa is solid (though the Big Ten owns that one, played in Iowa City). Tech-Arkansas is good. So is Texas-UCLA in Arlington. TCU-Minnesota. Kansas-Duke, West Virginia-Maryland (though the latter two are ACC-controlled).
Sept. 20: A wasteland. Kansas State hosts Auburn on Sept. 18, a Thursday night ESPN telecast. The only games on Saturday are OU-West Virginia and Kansas-Central Michigan. A virtual bye week.
Sept. 27: OSU-Tech is played on Sept. 25, a Thursday ESPN game, and that Saturday is so-so – Baylor-Iowa State, Kansas-Texas, TCU-SMU and Kansas State-UTEP.
Oct. 4: Five conference games, so that’s great.
Oct. 11: Four conference games, plus Iowa State-Toledo, so that’s fine.
Oct. 18: Five conference games.
Oct. 25: Three conferences games. OSU-West Virginia, TCU-Tech, Kansas State-Texas, so that probably will be all right.
Nov. 1: Five conference games.
Nov. 8: Four conferences games.
Nov. 15: Three conferences games, so it’s dicey again – OSU-Texas, TCU-Kansas, OU-Tech.
Nov. 22: Kansas State and West Virginia are playing on Thursday, Nov. 20, so the Saturday is left with just three league games – OSU-Baylor, OU-Kansas, Tech-Iowa State. So probably workable.
Nov. 29: Texas-TCU is Thanksgiving night, which leaves the Saturday for Kansas State-Kansas, Tech-Baylor and Iowa State-West Virginia. Could be a problem.
Dec. 6: Three conference games – Baylor-Kansas State, TCU-Iowa State and Bedlam.
So the Big 12 has one awful Saturday and a few potentially dud Saturdays. That’s not likely to happen in a 12-team league.
Add Brigham Young as some kind of scheduling partner, and it would help.