The season's over, so it's time to take stock of what the Big 12 has to get done between now and next season.
Here's the list from last year. All things considered, I'd say the Big 12 did pretty well on most fronts.
Figure out who's in and who's out: That's the big question hanging over the Big 12 for now. West Virginia and the Big 12 have every intention of joining forces in 2012, but until the Big East lawsuits are settled, they can't make it official. Otherwise, we may be waiting a while to see the Mountaineers wearing the Big 12 crest on their uniforms and playing on fields and courts with the logo. Truth be told, the Big 12 won't miss Missouri or Texas A&M nearly as bad as it will national power Nebraska. But TCU and West Virginia are both in good position to play well and make it easier to forget the SEC-bound Tigers and Aggies.
Then figure out who is playing where and when: And then there's that whole thing about the schedule. The Big 12's contingency plan is an eight-game conference schedule without the Mountaineers, but an eight-game schedule poses all sorts of other problems. Teams would be scrambling for nonconference games, likely overpaying for awful matchups that were frantically strung together. Would the league receive less money from its secondary rights TV contract? One would have to think so, considering it's dependent upon a 10-team league.
Whip West Virginia and TCU into shape: West Virginia has to acknowledge the step up in competition. Simply put, the move from the Big East is like moving from 3A high school football to 6A. The best teams can compete, but can they do it week to week? TCU will deal with a more intense move, but depth could be an issue for the Horned Frogs, who have fielded solid recruiting classes, but not quite the depth of talent as other Big 12 teams in Texas. If injuries and fatigue strike next season, TCU will have to learn how to handle it.
Fix up Oklahoma, too: The Sooners are the Big 12's best shot at dethroning the SEC and bringing a national title back to the Big 12 for the first time since Vince Young went all Vince Young on the 2005 season. The Sooners, though, have all kinds of issues. Are they deep enough at running back? Are the receivers good enough without Ryan Broyles as a safety blanket for Landry Jones? Can the senior-to-be string together 13 solid games? Can the defense quit giving up the big play with Mike Stoops in charge? That's a lot of check marks. OU has to take care of them to win a title.
Find Texas a quarterback: The Longhorns are the most visible program in the Big 12, but have floundered the past two post-Colt McCoy seasons. It's not the only problem, but getting a big upgrade at the most visible position would make the whole machine run a lot more smoothly. The defense figures to be solid, but since Texas won't be bringing any junior college quarterbacks aboard, the scenario boils down to essentially this: Can David Ash grow up enough in the next seven months to lead the Horns to big things, or can Connor Brewer walk in and prove he's a wunderkind?