Thursday, July 21, 2011

What The Big XII Needs To Guard Against

The Big XII has lost two programs to other conferences. One is a major player in the D1 game and the other is not. I am of course speaking of Colorado and Nebraska. From a strictly won/loss standpoint I suppose it was a good move on their part. Nebraska will most years dominate the Big X (with 12 teams) and Colorado may at least be competitive in the PAC 10 (now PAC 12).
The Big XII (with 10 teams, this is getting confusing) now is down to two "tier 1" teams: Oklahoma and Texas. The Longhorns were down last year and Oklahoma has had some pretty lean years in the not so distant past, but both of these programs are considered among the elite of the college game. Oklahoma State and probably Texas Tech make make up the "tier 2" group in the conference. Other schools no doubt have good years here and there. KSU has made some noise in the past and even KU and Mizzou for that matter. Texas A&M may be the best team in conference this year and even Baylor seems to be on track for a decent year but these programs are in no way to be considered elite or even tier 2 in big time college ball.

The Big XII needs to guard against irrelevance. Remember the old Southwest Conference? The problem there was a lack of relevance. There was Texas and everyone else. Of course sometimes another program made some noise. Houston and SMU come to mind. But the Southwest Conference, especially after Arkansas moved east, was no longer considered a premier conference in the latter years of its' history.

The new format for the Big XII has each conference member playing, well, each conference member. I like that format frankly. The problem though is that there are likely only to be three or four programs in the entire ten team league that are considered to be "good teams" in any given year. The conference as a whole must "schedule up" with their games out of conference to add a bit of lustre to the league. This, for the most part, does not appear to be the case with the upcoming season. For instance; Texas should be able to pad their record with some non conference wins, but victories over Rice, BYU, and UCLA are not the prescription. At least Baylor meets TCU and KSU meets with Miami (FL). Other teams play at least one tier 1 or tier 2 opponent with the exception of Kansas and perhaps Mizzou. Under no circumstances should any program in this conference schedule a IAA (I still call it that) opponent. They should perhaps also stay away from Sun Belt, Mid American, and WAC schools. The risks (scheduling these schools) are fairly high for an embarrassing upset and that type thing does not bode well for a league that may have already have some credibility problems.

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