I've long maintained that the Big 12 could survive the loss of Texas A&M. With nine teams left, they were still in far better shape than when the Big East was left trying to survive the hit of losing Miami, Boston College, and Virginia Tech. Why? Because they had Texas and Oklahoma, two of the biggest chips on the table.
But with Oklahoma now rumored to be headed farther west to join the Pac-12, things could fall apart. Quickly. Sure, I know there's talk that they're still undecided, but many of those same reports declaring that come with a caveat along the lines of 'but they're extremely interested'.
If the Sooners left, that could be a death blow. Sure, Texas remains, but it's hard to imagine the other teams not getting an itchy trigger finger and bolting for the first BCS AQ conference invite they got. You almost think that a unified Oklahoma and Texas could rebuild - I do, anyway. But with Oklahoma leaving and Texas probably somewhat apathetic to a degree because they'll find a home anywhere they want (face it, if they were going to Jupiter to start a team, some schools would follow), the conference is likely doomed. The only thing that could save the Big 12 with a Sooners departure is Texas playing the hero and vowing to lead the conference to the promised land. But that would take a mammoth effort - something even the Longhorns probably couldn't even do. They'd need to not only keep the remaining schools, but go out and find replacements - replacements that weren't money-happy and content to let the Longhorns keep their TV network. Sure the Tulsas and Houstons of the world could be had, but would Texas really want to hang around in the new Big East, go undefeated, and have their legitimacy challenged.
I doubt it.
So what does the Big East need to do? In a nutshell, we'd better hope the conference has already started discussions.Missouri is the oft-rumored 14th SEC team, so let's assume they're out.
Quality programs left? You've got Kansas, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State probably left - the Jayhawks more desired for their basketball program. The remaining options would be Baylor, Iowa State, and Texas Tech. There's no reason, obviously, to count Texas cause they'd probably remain an independent before they joined the Big East's little band of misfits.
I swear I'll come close to bludgeoning myself if John Marinatto hasn't already been on the phone with Big 12 schools. There's no reason to wait and now is the time to strike. Adding three programs now would get the conference to 12 and with the Big 12 finished, would likely secure the Big East's long-term future. Well, until expansion happens again, anyway. It also would do something I've mentioned nearly every time expansion's come up in relation the Big East - provide instant stability. If for some reason, a school like Syracuse decided to leave for the
cow greener pastures of the Big Ten, taking Rutgers and their New York/New Jersey market along with them, things would still be okay. The Big East could survive ... because they planned ahead.
Fears about disbanding a conference should be gone - the Big 12 is imploding before our very eyes. The Big East needs to not only start discussions if they haven't already, they need to be issuing invites. Now.