The Top 10 Conference Shake-Ups

Real Clear Sports compiled a top 10 ranking of the biggest conference shakeups in college sports. At No. 1 is the conference that has been talked about the most recently, the Big 12.

The existence of the Big 12 is now in jeopardy because other conferences can offer more money through television deals. The irony is that that is why the Big 12 was formed in the first place.

The Southwest Conference was in trouble due to greed and the fact that one-time power Southern Methodist University had never recovered after receiving the “Death Penalty” from the NCAA in 1986. The Big Eight saw the opportunity to swoop in and expand its television audience into the state of Texas, with huge markets in Dallas and Houston. In 1994 the Big Eight cannibalized half of the old SWC (adding Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor) and became the Big 12.

But in reality it was Texas that really swooped in to form the Big 12. The headquarters for the conference not only moved from Kansas City to Dallas, with a Texan at the helm, but it considered itself a new conference, leaving all the history of the former Big Eight behind. A lopsided deal favoring the University of Texas left traditional power Nebraska feeling jilted, triggering the latest round of conference realignment that the Big 12 nearly did not survive.

You can check out the rest of the site’s top 10 here.

It’s easy to forget how conferences came to be, so it’s interesting to take a walk down memory lane. How quickly we forget that Penn State and Florida State used to be independents, Miami used to be in the Big East and most of the current Mountain West used to be in the WAC (which once again was robbed by the MWC when Boise State recently decided to bolt).

Speaking of the Mountain West, the addition of Boise State will only help them gain full BCS privileges soon, including an automatic bid for the conference champion and a greater share of the bowl payout. The conference has been held back due to how the average computer rank of every team in the conference at the end of the regular season has been so low. But assuming the Broncos don’t drop off the face of the earth with their play, that won’t be a problem soon enough. (TCU, Utah and BYU will also have to stay competitive too, of course.)


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