Some harsh realities for some, but very sweet for BYU and others
The Big 12 looked like it might die after Oklahoma and Texas, their two flagship schools decided to go to the SEC.
But what happened? Competent leadership. They invited 4 solid schools (3 that were no brainers imo and then Houston) and the conference is in a very good place. The future conference members had a great football year (had a playoff team, 2 top 5 teams, 3 top 7) and then won their 2nd consecutive basketball title. Heck in football the new Big 12 teams (not including Oklahoma) had 5 top 20 teams. The SEC had 4 (5 with Oklahoma), the Big 10 3, the ACC 4 (although no top 12 teams) and the PAC had 1.
Recent indications are that the next Big 12 media deal would eclipse that of the Pac 12. Now the Pac 12 lost its flagship school and UCLA. It lost the 2nd biggest market in the country. According to a recent report it takes the annual revenue for the conference from $500 million to $300 million. So a lost of 40% media revenue. This a year after the PAC distributed by far the least amount of any major conference at $19.8 million (yes Covid was a factor).
So why are the Pac 12 schools not jumping to join the Big 12? Two really obvious answers. The first is that they consider themselves academic elitists that wouldn't want to be involved with Texas and midwest schools. The 2nd is that the bigger schools, the ones that the Big 12 would actually want are trying to make a play for one of the two biggest conferences.
But the real question becomes; do any of those schools bring anything to the Big 12.
Other than Utah, all of those schools are in blue states that are increasingly focused on social issues and seem to care less about sports. Almost every one of those schools has attendance problems as the fan base that watches games at their school is decreasing. The 43,865 average attendance among Pac 12 schools was the lowest ever in the conference's history. Even with paying attendance way down for the Pac 12, actual physical attendance is worse. Fans are simply not coming to watch Pac 12 teams play and are growing more and more apathetic to their teams.
Teams that I think add value? Oregon and Washington. Both have had solid attendance (at least pre-covid) and have large fan bases. I would add both to the Big 12 given the opportunity as I think they are value adds. The problem is those two are holding out for better offers (even though I doubt they come).
Arizona St I figure as at least revenue neutral. Their 5 year average attendance pre-Covid was 49,000+ which is not bad (not great, but not bad). They fit very well into the Big 12 geography.
One school I would think would be chomping at the bit to join the conference is Arizona. Not only more dollars for football, but joining a basketball conference that is elite. The best of the best. It seems like a no brainer. Football wise they have been pretty horrible though. I guess every conference needs a whipping boy. 🙂
I think both Colorado and Utah do not bring enough to the table to warrant an invitation. Not large fan bases, although you could at least argue that Utah's has increased. But just not enough eyes to warrant an invitation. Colorado has a good basketball program, but they are too big a pain in the butt to work with in my opinion.
Stanford is interesting, but again other than academic prestige what do they bring? Great other sports I suppose. The overall athletic program is solid even if the football/basketball one is not great. I would probably pass though if I were the Big 12. Nobody likes the stuck up Stanford group. Not to mention this would help BYU in recruiting.
Cal, WSU and Oregon St should be in the MWC at best. They have been given P12 money, but their fan support has never been large enough to thrive. They bring very little to a new conference.
Bottom line: If I am the Big 12 I ask about Oregon, Washington and Arizona St. Other than that I am good to grow my conference. I think it has the potential to get even better and it did quite well a year ago.