Big 12 and Big East: Best Scenarios For Conference Realignment

Tom DohertyCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2011

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head Coach Mack Brown of the Texas Longhorns celebrates a touchdown against the UCLA Bruins during the second quarter at Rose Bowl on September 17, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Lost in the cross-hairs of conference realignment are the members of the Big 12 and Big East conferences.

The Big 12 was brought back from the dead for the second time in over a year following Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's announcement of non-expansion for his conference. That puts Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State in an awkward position with the Big 12.

As for the Big East, instead of plucking a few teams from the aforementioned Big 12, they lost two of their longest running partners. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are headed to the ACC and UConn is more than willing to join if they get the chance.

Things appear bleak for Big East survival at the moment. But as Larry Scott just proved, tides can turn quickly and unexpectedly in the world of conference realignment. 

So where does this leave these two conferences? What is the best situation, or more pertinently, the more likely scenario for both leagues?

The answer lies in the history of the schools involved.

The main culprit behind the Big 12 madness has been Texas. They have their own television network and earn more revenue than any other team in the conference. That didn't sit well with Texas A&M, who is now headed for greener pastures in the SEC.

Lately, Texas has tried to save face despite their obvious selfishness. They've championed the Big 12 and want to keep it together.

But they also tried to jump ship to the Pac-12 and ended up with egg on their faces.

Fortunately for Texas, many of the teams in the Big 12 have no place else to go and will put up with them. Now that the Pac-12 has closed their doors, the Big 12 has new life.

Missouri reportedly has an offer to join the SEC as the 14th member of the conference. Will they bolt from that offer now that their conference could survive?

They wouldn't confirm nor deny their commitment to the Big 12 in a press conference a few days ago.

The best scenario for the Big 12 is to add a tenth school like BYU or SMU and generate a new revenue plan that distributes money amongst everyone equally.

There's been a lot of criticism toward the Longhorn Network's plans to televise high school games, so Texas will need to cancel those plans to make everyone happy.

In the Big East, Pittsburgh and Syracuse's departure is a crushing blow to the league. It effects basketball strongly, but even more so for a football league with only eight programs. 

East Carolina has applied for membership to the conference, which is good news for the Big East, but it won't mean much if UConn bolts to the ACC. TCU is slated to join next season, but without UConn's rising program it's just another step backward.

The best scenario for the Big East would be keeping UConn and accepting East Carolina into the fold. Beggars can't be choosers, and if the conference wants to exist next season it will have to consider any school that is interested.

Of course, all of this could change following the next shocking turn in the soap opera of conference realignment.

Last week, no one thought the Pac-12 would reject Oklahoma and company into their conference. The ACC went from prey to predator and robbed two quality schools from left field.

So for now, Big 12 schools will have to get along and work out a real long-term agreement or face execution again. The Big East, meanwhile, needs to act quickly and add some programs to keep UConn from leaving.

Get your popcorn ready because this hoopla is far from over.