The current climate of collegiate athletics cannot be properly discussed without referencing conference realignment, which has been a major story in recent months. The very fabric of college sports seems to be rapidly changing right in front of our eyes, especially at the power conference level.
Of course, the Big 12 indirectly played a major role in the first step of this recent band of realignment when Oklahoma and Texas announced their intentions to depart for the SEC. More than a year has passed since that announcement, and the conference was proactive, with the additions of BYU from the WCC and Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF from the AAC; all joining for this current season of athletics.
However, this is not where the story ends for the Big 12 or college basketball as a whole. With the Pac-12 on death’s door, the Big 12 will be adding four more schools next season at the same time that Oklahoma and Texas depart the league. A conference that currently sits at 14 members will settle with a long-term number of 16, welcoming back Colorado and adding three other current Pac-12 programs.
This is a rapidly changing world, but this looks like the future for the Big 12 with these sixteen programs. Many of these decisions were made solely based on football and money, though it does raise some questions about these schools’ other sports. We’re not here today to bemoan volleyball or tennis teams having to travel across the continent, we’re focused on the impact on Big 12 Basketball.
We’ll be taking a closer look at the sixteen current and/or future members of the Big 12 and evaluating where these programs currently stand and what shape they’re in for the future. We’ll be ranking them from top to bottom along these guidelines, thinking about how they fit in with the league and where exactly their basketball programs are trending in the years ahead.