For most of the past decade, it seemed like the Big 12 conference was on such shaky ground that it would make the San Andreas Rift appear stable. So it’s only fitting that the Texas Tech football program’s best hope for sustainability in the midst of what appears to be an impending conference realignment comes from the region of the country where the ground is known to shake and roll from time to time. time.
First of all, let’s be clear. This conference realignment chaos is primarily a Texas Tech football problem. It’s football that drives the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners to the SEC, and it’s football that generates the lion’s share of revenue for nearly every sporting department across the country.
Of course, Tech is in great shape in basketball and baseball, but those sports, as well as all the others on campus that are not played with an oblong ball, will have no bearing on what happens to Texas Tech when the Big 12 as we know it will cease to exist. Additionally, in all sports other than football, the NCAA tournament setup makes conference affiliation much less important.
Due to the number of teams selected for each tournament, programs like Gonzaga Basketball can become a national power despite playing in a mid-major conference. Likewise, as recently as 2016, we saw Coastal Carolina win the College World Series despite attending the Sun Belt Conference.
But no team outside of the Big Five Conferences other than Notre Dame have made the four-team college football playoffs. And each year the sport’s national champion comes from only a select group of programs, all of which have the financial backing of a major conference helping to fund their huge football budgets.
So, while Mark Adams and Tim Tadlock will be watching what happens with the latest NCAA game shake-up, their respective schedules should be okay no matter what. But for tech football there is only one hope to stay at the adult table and that is for the PAC 12 to throw a lifeline for the Red Raiders.
Many across the country assume that PAC 12 will be quick in its attempts to mirror the SEC and expand to 16 teams. This would only strengthen the theory that college football is heading towards a landscape of four major conferences, each with 16 members.
Thankfully, Tech is bringing a lot to the negotiating table with the PAC 12 despite more than a decade of woes on the ground. The point is, if PAC 12 wants to grow, it will only do so if an expansion makes financial sense. In other words, the television contracts it has with its media partners should be more lucrative, thus ensuring greater remuneration for each member institution. This is where Tech could have the domestic advantage.
The only place for PAC 12 expansion would be in the central time zone. Having previously monopolized the Pacific and Mountain time zones, the PAC 12 might see the central time zone, and Texas in particular, as an area worthy of trying to gain a foothold.
With Texas A&M and Texas (supposedly) in the SEC, the biggest televised circulation in Texas would be Texas Tech due in part to the massive number of Red Raiders in the Dallas metro. Of course, other programs like TCU and Baylor could play the Texas card as well, but the alumni and fan bases of these small private schools are tiny compared to those at Texas Tech.
This is why many predict that any expansion of PAC 12 would include the Red Raiders while few (if any) include bears or horned frogs in the PAC 16 projections. playing the latest conference realignment rocked the college football world just over a decade ago is also fueling rumors of Texas Tech landing in PAC 12. In fact, the PAC 12 commissioner of the At the time, Larry Scott even came to Lubbock for a clandestine meeting with Texas Tech officials. So, there’s reason to believe that Tech and the PAC 12 could rekindle their flirtations with each other and this time around it could end in a wedding rather than a one-night stand.
But what if the PAC 12 decides, as it did ten years ago, to hold on? It would be a worst-case scenario for Texas Tech football. In such an apocalyptic situation, Tech and Oklahoma State would likely join with TCU and Baylor in trying to keep the Big 12 viable.
However, what if West Virginia finds refuge in the ACC and the state of Kansas and Iowa finds refuge in the Big 10? That would leave the remnants of the Big 12 looking to add five teams just to come down to ten. And which four interested teams would move the TV needle? In short… none.
A big fish like Notre Dame doesn’t come in the Big 12. The Irish are already contractually affiliated with the ACC and they even played in this league last season on a COVID-19-induced single basis. So make no mistake, if Norte Dame joins a league, it will be the ACC.
Plus, no sane university would leave the safety of another Power Five conference to join a Big 12 taking on the water at Titanic rates. This would let the conference choose from the best options in conferences like Mountain West, AAC, and other less than sexy conferences. No, replacing Texas and OU with Houston and SMU would certainly not be enough to prevent the Big 12 from falling into the realm of second-class citizens, but it would be the league’s only option for “survival.”
Worse yet, what if the merry-go-round stopped and Iowa State, Kansas, and WVU all found comfortable new homes at a large conference as Texas schools were left outside to watch. inside? This worst-case scenario, in which there is no Big 12 and no PAC 16, would decimate the Red Raider football schedule and send Tech scrambling for a spot in a mid-major conference. It would take the 60+ year program back to the days of the Borders Conference and it’s a nightmare that no Red Raider wants to face.
So, through all the madness that’s sure to happen in the coming days, weeks, and months, there is a point of light on the horizon that Tech and their fans must look to for hope. And it emanates from the west coast.