The New York Times, not claiming to have conducted a scientific study, used various data to calculate an estimate on the size of each of the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools fan bases.
Reading the compelling results confirms the belief of any sane, unbiased spectator of the conference realignment mosh pit: Texas and Oklahoma are better off staying together in the Big 12 than they would be departing together to form a Pac-16.
According to the estimates made by the Times, the Big 12 has seven of the biggest 41 football fan bases, six if Texas A&M is subtracted: 5. Texas, 6. Texas A&M, 19. Oklahoma, 23. Missouri, 33. Texas Tech, 40. Kansas, 41. Oklahoma State. The Pac-12 has three ranked in the top 41: 17. USC, 25. UCLA, 31. California.
Staying in the Big 12 means better rivalries and more sensible travel for OU and UT student-athletes and fans. It also would mean being in a conference that has two-thirds of its members in the top 41 largest fan bases. Why defect to a conference that would have 44 percent in the top 41?
Remember, when Oklahoma and Texas met to discuss ways to keep the Big 12 together, they couldn’t agree on how to share revenue, so they’re going to move halfway across the country to be in a conference together there? Move from a football-crazed region to one considerably more laid-back about college football? On what planet does this makes sense?
The Longhorns swing a bigger bat in the Big 12 than they could in any other conference. So surrender a little of the power and revenue share to Oklahoma, and the Longhorns and Sooners can swing their big bats together in the Big 12.
Fantasies of the Big 12 staying together hinge on Texas and Oklahoma realizing that once the honeymoon of heading west wears off, they’ll pine for the good old days of Big 12 football. The Pac-12 also could help the Big 12 stay together by refusing to let Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in.
It’s interesting that Connecticut, very public about its desire to join the ACC, hasn’t been invited yet. Neither has Rutgers. Might the ACC be waiting for Texas to find a permanent landing spot, and could Texas insist on bringing Kansas with it?
In the world of last-minute flights, anything’s possible, even Texas and Notre Dame expanding the Big Ten.
Just in case, the Big East and Big 12 already have started merger discussions.
And isn’t it interesting that the Longhorn Network, identified by some as the No. 1 culprit in Big 12 chaos, has gained so little traction that a move to the Pac-12 could mean the network downsizes to just another regional network. So little traction, yet such a remarkably destructive force for so many people in so many states, people now in such an angry emotional state.
Fans and student-athletes lose if the Big 12 blows up. The biggest winner? Attorneys. Lawsuits could fly from Ames to Waco.