With Colorado gone and Nebraska all but gone from the Big 12, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor officials are meeting today in a last-ditch effort to save the Big 12. That still remains the top priority for the Texas schools, so they say.
The alternative is a migration to the Pac-10 for six teams -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado -- which would signal the destruction of the Big 12 and would leave Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and quite possibly Missouri -- which wants Big Ten membership, but might not get it -- in limbo.
For days now, Nebraska has been considered the Big 12 linchpin. If the Huskers leave, the conference dissolves. But does it have to dissolve if saving the league is really the No. 1 goal for Texas and the other Big 12 members? If only Nebraska leaves, what would be the quickest fix to replace one school?
Obviously, Nebraska won't be the only Big 12 school on the move. Colorado officially accepted a bid to join the Pac-10 on Thursday. So the Big 12 could operate as a 10-team league or look to fill two spots.
TCU and who? A fellow Mountain West Conference team? Houston from Conference USA? The Big 12 already owns the Houston market. Adding another MWC team like BYU or Air Force would seem the only logical route -- assuming Arkansas has no plans to vacate the revenue pipeline that is the SEC. Of course, the Big 12 could look at this model and deem a move to the Pac-16 as being a vastly more lucrative option.
Back in January in California when TCU coach Gary Patterson accepted his Coach of the Year award from the Football Writers Association of America, he said the Frogs wouldn't hesitate to join the Big 12 if asked. He even joked that it would be all the better if they could hop right into the weaker North Division.
TCU athletics measure up in nearly every sport except men's basketball. Patterson's Frogs completed an undefeated regular season and played in the Fiesta Bowl. The baseball team begins the super-regional round Friday in Austin against the Longhorns, a rematch from last year, for a spot in the College World Series. The women's basketball team has played in multiple NCAA Tournaments. TCU's other Olympic sports are competitive.
TCU has poured money into building first-rate athletic facilities and plans are in motion to renovate Amon G. Carter Stadium.
However, some close to the TCU athletic department are skeptical that the Big 12 would extend an invitation to TCU in its hour of need. One source cited the fact that, like Houston, the Big 12 already owns the Dallas-Fort Worth market. Plus, Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech greatly enjoy the recruiting advantage they own with the Frogs in a lesser conference.
A Pac-16, with its massive reach, visibility and popularity would seemingly only accentuate that advantage.
But, say that Texas and friends opt to save a 10-team Big 12 without TCU. Would it pursue BYU and Air Force first? Those schools seem most logical because they at least secure Salt Lake City TVs, while Air Force, based in Colorado Springs, Colo., somewhat taps into the Denver market.
These are fast and crazy times.
Crazy is to think that the Baylor-TCU football game in September is now more likely to be rekindled as a conference matchup in the Mountain West and not the Big 12. Crazy.