If the addition of TCU wasn’t enough evidence to prove that the Big 12 is here to stay, the planned addition of the West Virginia Mountaineers should be the topping evidence that the Big 12 is ready to rumble in the wilderness of conference expansion.
The status of the Big 12 has been shrouded in rumors and questions since Nebraska and Colorado announced their departures from the conference two summers ago.
After the Cornhuskers and the Buffaloes left to their respective new conference homes, it appeared that Texas and Oklahoma would leave the conference to join the Pac-12 to create the first collegiate super-conference. Following a brief moment of stability and serenity, Texas A&M kick-started the realignment game again as it defected to the Southeastern Conference. A second round of Pac-12 talks came again from the powerhouses of the Big 12 only to go back into a state of tentative peace.
Even when this tentative peace came about, the Big 12 was down to only nine members, and Missouri began giving a clear message that it wanted to get into the SEC.
Instead of hunkering down and waiting for the worst, the Big 12 dove into the realignment game and made a great move by picking up TCU.
Now, the Big 12 has made another great move by working with West Virginia.
The Mountaineers will make a great fit in the Big 12. In terms of competition, West Virginia has been a proven winner. In the past five years, West Virginia has finished in the BCS Top 25 four times.
The West Virginia basketball program, another coveted thing for the Big 12, has reached the NCAA tournament six out of the past seven years, including many Sweet 16 appearances and one Final Four appearance.
On top of that, West Virginia brings great numbers in both fans and money. Last year, West Virginia home football games saw an average attendance of more than 55,500 fans per game, according to West Virginia’s official athletics statistics site.
West Virginia also sports an athletic budget of $56.6 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education. This would make its athletic budget the fifth largest in the Big 12, outdone by only Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas.
If that wasn’t already enough, one other thing that West Virginia brings is an all-new media market for the Big 12. While some critics will argue about West Virginia’s location, there’s no denying that the Big 12 will finally have a solid presence in the East Coast. West Virginia brings the Big 12 a coveted TV market, and games on the East Coast will lead to a wider recruitment pool for all members of the Big 12.
Most importantly in this move, however, beyond bringing in a great program that bolsters the Big 12’s competition, a stadium that will be packed for home games and a new media market, this move helps stabilize the conference as a whole.
With the realignment game of college football — at this point akin to musical chairs — the Big 12 once looked like a conference that would be swallowed up by outer conferences. Just three months ago, it was arguable that the end was near for the Big 12. Instead, with the addition of TCU and the planned addition of West Virginia, the Big 12 is looking like a solid and predatory conference.
With the addition of West Virginia, the evidence shows that the Big 12 is here to stay.
J.D. Moore is a sophomore journalism major from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is also the host of the Fort Worth Four show on 88.7 The Choice.