Big 12 Can Still Salvage Itself
From a basketball perspective, there's still promise in salvaging things. Think of using the remnants of a conference like you would rebuilding a basketball team. You still have an All-American to build around in Kansas. Kansas State is a nice complementary player in the equation. So you have something to build around.
From there, you can start to fill the pieces around the Kansas schools. Iowa State is desperate to be included, so it would gladly be the third school in the fray. In the past few days, Missouri has circled the wagons and started preaching about loyalty to the Big 12 -- or at least saying things like "let's see this through." You know what that means? It got the cold shoulder and is in the midst of the walk of shame back home.
So that's four.
Baylor's in limbo. Obviously, the Pac-10 wants no part of it, which is why the invitation was extended to Colorado first. Texas, as of now, isn't going to leave without bringing all four Texas schools with it. But what if Texas A&M, which wants to go to the SEC, bolts on its own? Then the path is clear and everyone else leaves Baylor in the dust.
That's five. Seven to go.
At this point, the Big 12 would be forced to take drastic measures in order to stay together and relevant. Fortunately, the name would have some level of relative clout to smaller conference schools. The Mountain West and Conference USA could be raided by the Big 12 during a desperate time. I've seen some propose looking at Louisville or Cincinnati, but I don't see schools departing the Big East for a league that might crumble. The Missouri Valley Conference would be a nice destination from a basketball perspective, but we have to remember -- as much as we love basketball -- that football is a driving force here. Playing on Saturdays in the fall against FCS teams is not an option.
What about grabbing: BYU, Utah, TCU, Houston, Rice, UTEP and SMU?
Of the 12 would-be Big 12 teams, I count seven that participated in the NCAA basketball tournament last season. Sure, the conference is much weaker in football, but there are five schools (Kansas, Missouri, BYU, Utah, TCU) that have either played in a BCS bowl or been in the conversation in recent memory.
That leaves a North Division of Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Missouri, BYU and Utah and a South Division of Baylor, TCU, Houston, Rice, UTEP and SMU.
It may not sound great -- or even remotely good -- for Kansas et al, but it sure beats running to Conference USA or the Mountain West as a downtrodden group of four.