Last year the Big 12 lost the University of Nebraska to the Big 10 (giving the Big 10 its twelfth team) and University of Colorado to the Pac 10 (which now also has 12 teams). This year Texas A&M University have made plans to leave for the SEC. Currently rumors are flying about Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University, and the University of Texas considering options with other conferences, and to a lesser extent Texas Tech University and the University of Missouri as well.
My preference is for the Big 12 to continue and expand rather than shrivel and die. I would also like to see UT get kicked out of the Big 12, left with no conferences to join, and thus declare themselves Independent. I personally have no problem with some disproportionate sharing of the wealth among member teams. After all if you are better you should get more. However, a conference should still function as a team, meaning you are only as good as those you play against. The stronger team should help the weaker team some. This is also a trait of a leader. The University of Texas, though better positioned than mist others in conference, has not been a leader in the Big 12 but rather played the spoiled brat. The big 12 teams deserve better.
I hope the remaining eight teams, Baylor University, Iowa State University, Kansas State university, Oklahoma State University, Texas Tech University, the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri, and the University of Oklahoma, all work together to rebuild the conference with recruitment and expansion. Why would any team want to join the Big 12? Because the Big 12 is an automatic qualifying conference for the Bowl Championship Series. However, given the weakened position of the Big 12 currently, it will be highly unlikely to expand with teams already in an automatic qualifying conference such as the ACC, Big 10, Big East, Pac 12, or the SEC. This leaves the second tier conferences such as Conference USA, Mountain West, Sun Belt, or Western Athletic. Interesting enough, the unequal distribution of conference money may make expansion of teams from these conference easier for the existing teams.
Teams I think the big 12 should consider are, in order:
Tulane University. Enrollment of 11,000. Endowment of 800 millions US$. Football Stadium for 73,000. Tulane would also bring in the New Orleans and Louisiana market of 1.2 millions and 4.5 millions respectively.
Colorado State University. Enrollment of 25,000. Endowment of 400 millions US$. Football Stadium for 34,000. Colorado State would resume Big 12 football in Colorado with its 5 millions already familiar with the conference.
University of Houston. Enrollment of 39,000. Endowment of 500 millions US$. Football Stadium for 32,000. Houston is an up and comer program with a competitive team in a major media market.
Texas Christian University. Enrollment of 9,000. Endowment of 1.1 billions US$. Football Stadium for 44,000. TCU is a competitive team, a good school, and belongs in the Big 12 rather than the Big East.
The addition of these 4 teams would bring the Big 12 back to 12. While both Boise State and BYU would make strong competitors, the distance is too far and the market gain not worth enough to travel for. However, alternative neighbors, or to bring the conference to 14 for greater stability would be to add the Air Force Academy (4,400 enrollment, 24 millions US$ endowment, and 52,000 football stadium) and the University of New Mexico (35,000 enrollment, 300 millions US$ endowment, and 40,000 stadium) to maintain regional hegemony.
The conference's two divisions should be split to include Texas in both (2 Texas teams each) to allow all conference teams continuous exposure to the most populous state in the conference. The divisions could be East-West or by "zipper" based on rivalries. Each year each team would play all its division partners and half of the other for a total of 8 games, allowing plenty of non conference play. A 14 team split would allow for 10 conference games (6 within the division, 1 annual rival game from the other division, and 3 general rotating games from the other division). A 16 teams two division conference would result in an 11 game conference play and is not practical with the current season length.
Should Texas stay then either not add TCU or expand the conference with the University of New Mexico for 14 (along with Tulane, Colorado State, TCU and Houston). The current Big 12 teams, minus Texas A&M University, are:
Baylor University. Enrollment 13,000. Endowment 870 millions US$. Football Stadium 50,000.
Iowa State University. Enrollment 29,000. Endowment 500 millions US$. Football Stadium 55,000.
Kansas State University. Enrollment 24,000. Endowment 280 millions US$. Football Stadium 51,000.
Oklahoma State University. Enrollment 23,000. Endowment 500 millions US$. Football Stadium 60,000.
Texas Tech University. Enrollment 31,000. Endowment 775 millions US$. Football Stadium 60,000.
University of Kansas. Enrollment 30,000. Endowment 1 billions US$. Football Stadium 50,000.
University of Missouri. Enrollment 33,000. Endowment 975 millions US$. Football Stadium 71,000.
University of Oklahoma. Enrollment 30,000. Endowment 970 millions US$. Football Stadium 82,000.
University of Texas. Enrollment 50,000. Endowment 14 billions US$ for the entire UT system. Football Stadium 100,000.