The charter member returns in hopes of finding more football success and more revenue from their media rights deals. PIC: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports
The worst kept secret in the world was only outed more this week; the Big 12 is actively adding members.
Enter Colorado, who announced they'd be returning to the very conference they helped found almost 30 years ago. When the Big 8 announced they'd take on the four Texas universities in 1994, the Big 12 formed when Texas Tech took on Kansas State in the conference's first-ever football game between two conference opponents in 1996.
For nearly two decades, the conference did well to retain most of its charter members. Nebraska and Colorado were the first to abandon it, leaving for the Big Ten and Pac 12 respectively in 2011. Then came Texas A&M and Missouri, both departing for the SEC in 2012. When Oklahoma and Texas announced their intention to leave the league for the SEC this past season, it sparked a nationwide debate on how conferences will re-organize in the future. A "Mega Big Ten" is certainly in the cards, as prominent schools have expressed interest in making the jump.
Unfortunately enough for the Pac 12, it comes at their expense. With Colorado's departure, that marks yet another prominent institution to leave the West's marquee conference. USC and UCLA will depart for the Big Ten at the turn of the year, marking multiple decades of championships and national success among the three schools.
Spencer McLaughlin, who hosted today's segment on 750 The Game, had a lot to say about the Pac 12's perceived indifference on the situation. "In college sports, the perception is far more than professional sports," he said. "It's why the Pac 12's decision to just forego a PR strategy, to just not play the game, to not try and paint your league in the best way that they can, let others talk about your conference in a way that was sometime excessively negative, and sometimes accurately negative...to just never push back, it seems to have come back and bitten them in the rear end."
For the Big Twelve, although they've lost Texas and Oklahoma, they've made some quality changes to their conference by adding five institutions in the last year. In additional to Colorado, the league voted to add four other schools, three from the American Athletic Confernece. Central Florida, Houston, and Cincinnati will all join the Big 12 this year, while BYU finally lands back into a Power Five conference after being fully independent in football and holding WCC membership in everything else.
BIG TWELVE CHANGES THIS PAST YEAR
IN (as of July 1, 2023, starts competition this year): BYU, UCF, Houston, Cincinnati, Colorado
OUT (as of June 30, 2024): Texas, Oklahoma