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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Big 12 left with work to try and save face

by Wally Hall | August 8, 2021 at 3:54 a.m.

Football is finally back.

College, high school, NFL and maybe even the pee-wee leagues that start too soon and too seriously at times are practicing.

For now, at least today, Texas and Oklahoma and their epic move from the Big 12 to the SEC and how much that truly affects the changing landscape of college football is seemingly on the back burner.

The initial shock and reactions are no longer headlines.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who somehow got blindsided by 20% of his league leaving, lashed out that ESPN and the American Athletic Conference were tampering with the remaining eight teams in the Big 12.

ACC Commissioner Michael Areseco has denied that.

Bowlsby is trying to save his league, but that warning shot over the bow may have ricocheted and hit him in the behind.

How happy will ESPN be to negotiate with him in the future? Not very.

His best shot is a long shot and the Big 12 gets invited to join the Pac-12, but more than likely, the thinking on the West Coast is more like when the Big Eight and Southwest Conference merged in 1994.

The Big Eight had the power and cherry picked the SWC, initially taking only Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.

Baylor and Oklahoma State should be at the top of the Pac-12's list of schools who might fit. Texas Tech fits as much as Arizona, but that decision will made at a high pay grade.

TCU is a private school (as is Baylor, the defending national basketball champions), K-State isn't at the end of the world but you can see it from there.

Football is the prime motivator behind any expansion and Kansas has great basketball, but football doesn't rock chalk Jayhawk. It hasn't had a winning season since 2008 and is 26-115 since then. It also had some collateral damage from the Les Miles-Jeff Long fiasco.

Iowa State is a good program, but geographically has always been a better fit for the Big Ten who hasn't seemed interested, but should be on the SEC's list if it isn't finished at 16 teams.

West Virginia is in the footprint of the Big 10 or ACC but somehow is in a league where its closest conference opponent is 1,100 miles away.

All it is going to take is for one of those schools to jump and there will be no Big 12. One of them will make a move and Texas and Oklahoma will join the SEC before 2025.

The realignment of college football is not over, probably far from it. One guess is when all is said and done that there will be 64 Power Four schools in four conferences.

The bold move by the SEC, UT and OU, was just the first move in a masters chess game.

We aren't hearing much from the back burner, but the flame is on and simmering could turn to boiling in a hurry.

Right now, coaches are worried about conditioning, injuries and leadership.

Athletic directors and commissioners are turning more of their attention to what almost derailed college football last year: The big ugly coronavirus.

There is some talk that fans will have to produce proof of vaccination before being allowed to attend games and also wear masks.

Everyone is watching what they had hoped would be a brushfire grow into a dangerous blaze as the number of people getting the virus is rising fast again.

A few weeks ago Arkansas was No. 13 in the country in infections per 100,000 and now it is No. 6, and our legislators won't protect children who are too young for the vaccination by mandating masks in public schools.

A year ago football was a welcome relief from the daily reports on the virus and it will be again.

Print Headline: Big 12 left with work to try and save face

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