For those challenged by the numeric nonsense of college athletic conferences these days, here’s a quick calculation as of Tuesday:
✔ Big 10: Has 12 teams.
✔ Big 12: Has 10 teams.
✔ Pac-10: Has 11 teams.
Of course, those who have been following the seismic shifts in college athletics of late know the arithmetic is still in flux.
The Pac-10, which added the University of Colorado to its roster last week, is expected to invite the University of Utah to join this week. And Utah will likely accept, enlarging the Pac-10 to 12 teams and allowing for an annual conference championship in football.
The Big 12, which lost both Colorado and Nebraska last week, is rumored to be considering inviting a number of other universities to return its roster to an even dozen.
But the biggest news of the past couple weeks is what didn’t happen: The University of Texas did not abandon the Big 12 — and take with it at least five other schools — for the Pac-10. That move would have created a super-sized Pac-16. But it would have destroyed the Big 12 and it would have left a handful of Midwestern schools scrambling to find athletic conferences to call home.
The Big 12 held together in large part because Commissioner Dan Beebe convinced Texas and other remaining members they could boost their revenue with lucrative television contracts if they remained united.
We still can’t fault the University of Colorado for taking action last week — when it looked like the Big 12 might disintegrate and it, too, might be scurrying to find a new conference to join.
Even so, we’re pleased to see that the Big 12 will survive. It is a storied athletic conference, dating back to when it was only the Big 6. Furthermore, its teams are geographically aligned in the heart of the Great Plains, and most share a cultural identity, as well.
Whatever the final number of schools the conference ends up with, college athletics are enhanced with the Big 12 as part of the equation.