With Texas and Oklahoma quietly preparing to leave the Big 12 conference to join the SEC, the eight schools set to be left behind are trying to figure out what to do with themselves.
According to Bruce Feldman and Sam Khan Jr. of The Athletic, the remaining eight Big 12 schools held a leadership call Thursday and pledged to attempt to stay together if possible. However, schools are evaluating contingency plans and considering what their value might be to other conferences.
One option that was floated during the meeting was approaching the Pac-12 to discuss the possibility of a 20-school merger. This is only an idea at this point, and it does not appear that the Pac-12 has even been informally approached about it.
One other alternative would be to recruit new members, which would likely involve raiding the American Athletic Conference. The AAC is prepared to try to pick up remaining Big 12 members, but the Big 12 is set to keep its status as an Autonomy 5 conference, meaning schools in those conferences have greater freedom in terms of rules and regulations. That could make it more appearing for AAC schools to leave and join what’s left of the Big 12 rather than vice versa.
What’s left of the Big 12 on its own would have little relevance nationally in the college football landscape. Merging with the Pac-12 wouldn’t guarantee a whole lot either, but it’s a slightly better alternative. The blunt reality is that without Texas and Oklahoma, even the best options for the eight remaining schools aren’t that great.