Missouri is officially going to the SEC for 2012.
That leaves the Big XII with:
and West Virginia.
When West Virginia can start Big XII play remains unclear as they are suing, and being counter sued, by the Big East, to start Bug XII play in 2012. A big question still as a drag out legal contest in itself, regardless of who wins, may prevent a working schedule for the Big XII play. I have no question they can play by 2013 because that is when the Big East will be reconstituted with new members, who themselves have a year hold obligation with their own current conferences.
Thus if there is only 9 teams in the Big XII then television contracts might have to be renegotiated (from the TV carriers) as I believe the threshold for this is 10 teams. The only one of the independent team is likely to be able to start conference play by 2012. Of the four, Army is not interested in any conference, Navy is being courted by the Big East, Notre Dame won't give up its independence to help out any conference, and so that leaves BYU. BYU was previously courted by the Big XII but nothing became of it for uncertain and unpublished reasons. Unpublished means that there is still an opportunity to renegotiate. Interesting enough, BYU has also been mentioned as a traveling partner for Boise State to go to the Big East. If BYU turned down the Big XII, I would be skeptical they would choose the Big East instead, but if the Big East was more pliant, then it could happen.
The Big XII needs to make a renewed push for BYU, and perhaps to entice it, consider taking Boise State as well. I understand that there is concerned about Boise State's academics, and a programs academic's reputation and standing lingers longer than on field football prowess, but as long as there is a commitment to academic excellence, it might be reasonable to consider them.
Taking both BYU and Boise State would leave the conference at 12, where the conference started in 2010. But when you rebuild, you should always look to rebuild bigger and better. Again I believe the Big XII should become the Big XIV, no later than 2014. Work today and make plans for tomorrow. Going to XIV would also allow the Big XII to renegotiate its TV contracts for more money, not just keep the same or lose (if there is only 9 teams for 2012).
Who should these 2 teams be? Again we should keep the idea of loco-regional rivalry and traveling partner in mind. Thus i propose the following "couples" in order of appeal.
1. Central Florida & South Florida. Pros: Both are reasonably competitive programs. Both are within a major media market. Both have good fan bases. Both are located in a state rich in potential recruits. Cons: Neither has a long history for football in the national college football psyche. Distance from the Big XII (though this is a minor con).
2. Cincinnati & Louisville. Pros: Both are current AQ conference members. Both are competitive in football. Both have good media markets for viewers. Both have good fan bases. Both are in the Ohio Valley region for recruiting purposes. And both are ready and willing. In addition, Louisville has an excellent basketball program. Cons: While competitive, neither has a long history for football in the national college football psyche.
3. Southern Mississippi & Tulane. Pros: Both are in good football recruiting areas of the Southeastern Conference. Southern Mississippi has a long tradition of football competitiveness and Tulane has a long tradition for academics as an AAU member. Cons: Southern Mississippi has a decent fan base but no significant TV market. Tulane is in a good TV market but with a small fan base, it is unclear they can deliver viewers.
4. Colorado State & Wyoming. Pros: Both are neighboring states. Both has decent fan bases (similar in size to Louisville & Cincinnati). Colorado State is in a former Big XII state with likely many Big XII viewers already. Wyoming has the Wyoming market locked up. Cons: Neither are in good media market. While decent, neither are particularly strong on the football field. Neither are in states rich with recruits.
5. Houston & Southern Methodist. Pros: Both are competitive on the field. Both are in good media markets. Cons: Both are in Texas where there is already 4 Big XII teams so unclear whether there will be a gain in viewers, fans or recruits. Both have relatively small fan bases and thus may not deliver their media market.
6. Rice & Tulane. Pros: Both are AAU members. Both are in good media markets. Cons: Both are poor football performers. Both have small fan base and thus may not deliver their media market.
So a reconfigured Big XII
Division A & Division B (as annual cross division rivalry games)
Kansas State & Kansas (Sunflower Showdown since 1902)
Oklahoma & Oklahoma State (Bedlam Series since 1904)
Texas & Texas Tech (Chancellor's Spurs since 1928)
Baylor & Texas Christian (Great Revival since 1899)
Iowa State & West Virginia
Brigham Young & Boise State
Central Florida & South Florida
Cincinnati & Louisville
Tulane & Southern Mississippi
Colorado State & Wyoming
Southern Methodist & Houston
Rice & Tulane
1. Interesting enough, taking Central Florida & South Florida as well as Cincinnati & Louisville will likely kill off the Big East before they can reform. Then their BCS Auto Qualifier can go to the MWC & C-USA Alliance Champion.
2. The two matched teams, being loco-regional rivalries, should try to stagger their home games so that in any fall weekends, there will be a nearby Big 12 game within driving distance, whether it be in Provo or Boise, Orlando or Tampa Bay, Cincinnati or Louisville, New Orleans or Hattiesburg, Fort Collins or Laramie, Dallas and Houston, or Houston & New Orleans.
3. Alternative pairings would be BYU & WVU (West & East) and Iowa State & Tulane (North & South). All pairings should be somewhat competitive.
4. My preferred are Cincinnati & Louisville and Rice & Tulane.