The Pac 12 Isn’t Expanding and Texas Tech Is Fine
The latest breaking news in the ongoing conference realignment saga is that the Pac 12 has finally confirmed that they will not be expanding, at this time. The initial reaction from a lot of Texas Tech fans is that the lifeboat is gone for the Red Raiders and athletics, as we know it in Lubbock, is dead.
I've been saying this for weeks, but I'll say it again for anyone who hasn't heard me.
TEXAS TECH WAS NEVER GOING TO THE PAC 12.
I know when the immediate news hit that the Longhorns and Sooners were heading to the SEC the easiest solution for Texas Tech was to survive was to head west to the Pac 16. It was novel, fun and I bought it for about two days. Then I thought, strictly from a sports fan perspective, "Why go to a conference that puts academics first?" I continued talking to myself, "Why join a conference that has a TV partner like FOX whose first priority will always be the NFL, thinks noon eastern is prime time, and has thought they were better than they are for a decade?"
To me, the Pac 12 is heading in a downward trajectory. Granted, so is the Big 12. I get it.
But at least the Big 12 knows it. They brought in Oliver Luck as a special advisor. They know the importance of media markets and can think to a future where the playoff is expanded and schools like Cincinnati, UCF, and Memphis would all have had legitimate playoff seasons in the recent past.
The Big 12 now has the opportunity to expand and replace the Pac 12 in the pecking order of College Football. Yes, even without Texas and Oklahoma. Adding schools like BYU or schools from the American Athletic Conference and getting stronger as a conference sounds counter-intuitive but I believe that's the right long-term play.
If the "Big American", a merger of the Big 12 with the best of the AAC, can keep its ESPN contracts and form a tight bond with the SEC you'll be in a much better place than any conference in the alliance. Maybe not now or next year, but the road college athletics is heading down, it's much better to be forward-thinking than stuck in your ways.
This offseason has proven two things. The conferences that think college sports is good enough formed "the alliance" with a handshake and a wink. The SEC poached two of the biggest brands from another conference and shocked the world all while looking forward to an expanded playoff where they could potentially get four or five participants.
It's checkers and chess.
I want Texas Tech and the Big 12 to play chess which is the long-term play of calling the AAC members that can provide new markets and geography and stay the course. Bonus points if you can find some friends near West Virginia.